Cities take on climate change in Latin America

Buenos Aires, Recife and Campinas have several things in common. They are all large cities in Latin America dealing with the impacts of climate change. They face drought and intense periods of rains and flooding.

They also share a strong commitment to take climate action. These cities is committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which means they are part of an international alliance of cities and local governments taking voluntary action to build a low emission, resilient society. These three cities were together at COP23 in Bonn to tell their stories and how cities committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors are advancing climate action and sustainability in Latin America.

Buenos Aires, Argentina is taking action on multiple fronts to achieve their goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest. The city has created its first energy agency and put forward concrete policies and measures for energy efficiency. At the same time, Buenos Aires has set a zero garbage law with concrete goals to recover recyclable materials. In doing so, the city has not only brought about a radical change in the way waste is managed in the city, but also created new employment opportunities.

At this point, traffic in Buenos Aires remains a problem, but the city is making strides to improve cycling routes and sustainable transport, ensuring that there is a strong bus and metro system that bring commuters to the city center.

Recife, Brazil is advancing on climate action through a combination of political instruments, civil society engagement and technical interventions. The city is improving its water systems, reducing surface temperature and emphasizing green infrastructure projects to transform the area. These actions stem from a political realization several years back that the city could transform and plan for the reality of climate change.

Campinas, Brazil is undertaking comprehensive changes. The city is planting new vegetation and improving water and sanitation systems. They are also creating 189 kilometers of bike routes, and have already implemented 30. This comes in addition to new parks and green space they are developing throughout the city. They also have plans to improve sanitation in the city, providing universal access as well as a system for sludgewater management and treatment.

These cities are doing their fair share to advance their goals, but more could be done with better access to finance. It is, for many cities, one of the biggest challenges the face when it comes to implementing public policy.