Walter Vergara and René Zamora Cristales of the Initiative 20x20 Secretariat participated in the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Council of Ministries of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) from Decemeber 4 to 5. The meeting was chaired by Omar Figueroa, Minister of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change of Belize. CCAD is developing a common agenda of international environmental policy, strategy, technical and research issues for its Central American members. The meeting was attended by representatives from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic.
The Initiative 20x20 team at World Resources Institute (WRI) was invited to a discussion on climate finance instruments to support future restoration work in the region. The presentation made by WRI included a review of the status, immediate plans, and further progress of Initiative 20x20 and its partners in the implementation of restoration programs and projects throughout Latin America.
The core of the presentation and ensuing discussion was tapping into the Global Environmental Facility, (GEF), the Adaptation Fund (AF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to finance restoration projects. Restoration and other natural climate solutions could provide up to one-third of the total solution to climate change, but only receive 2% of public climate financing. With that in mind, Initiative 20x20 presented the potential benefits of applying for the GEF's Food, Land Use and Restoration Impact Program. Initiative 20x20 also presented a concept to structure a new "project preparation facility" that would support the pre-investment studies and project preparation necessary for applying for international climate financing. All of this work is in support of El Salvador’s campaign to declare a U.N. Decade of Ecosystem Restoration that would last from 2020 to 2030. A side discussion was also held with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre on advancing restoration as a key adaptation to the impact of climate change on the Caribbean region.
Government representatives expressed interest in a regional GEF proposal centered around removing barriers to restoration and supporting restoration policies and actions on the ground to meet countries' Paris Agreement goals and Aichi biodiversity targets. Figueroa of Belize indicated a keen interest to have WRI and Initiative 20x20 support the process, leading to the eventual submission of a GEF concept by a suitable implementing agency. In January 2019, countries will decide if they want to work with WRI to develop a regional GEF proposal.