The EU-LAC Foundation promotes bi-regional cooperation towards ecological recovery through the XII. EU-LAC Reflection Forum

On 19-20 April 2021, a total of 98 participants from 44 EU and LAC delegations met at the XII. Reflection Forum "Contributions of the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership to Shaping a Greener Recovery" to exchange on challenges, national strategies and the potential of international cooperation for a green recovery. The Reflection Forum was organised by the International EU-LAC Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia to provide an informal platform for discussion between senior government officials and experts from international organisations and academia on the relations between the European Union (EU), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) around a systemic green transformation. The objective was to achieve a frank and useful exchange and understanding of different points of view as well as to identify the challenges that both regions are facing and to explore opportunities for cooperation.

Countries on both sides of the Atlantic are committed to the fight against climate change. They adopted the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, both promoted by the United Nations (UN). The President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Leire Pajín, Dr Stansiclav Raščan (State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia), Claudia Gintersdorfer (Head of the Americas Division of the European External Action Service), and Ambassador Mauricio Escanero (Head of the Mexican Mission to the European Union and Representative of the Pro Tempore Presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)) stressed at the opening of the Forum the desire to continue multilateral efforts even though the COVID-19 pandemic provoked a serious crisis in many countries at the economic and social level as well as causing the postponement of key climate change summits.

The XII. Reflection Forum was held over two days and featured interventions by senior officials from the Foundation's Members and invited experts. The first session on Monday addressed lessons learned and institutional capacities to implement green recovery actions and the question of what are the strategies and capacities to be mobilised? Within this framework, the importance of multi-sectoral and multi-level articulation of targets to address inequities was discussed.

During the day, there were keynote presentations by the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, Andrea Meza Murillo, and the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj from the University of Ljubljana. Besides, Dr Allan Lavell (International Consultant and researcher FLASCO Costa Rica), and Jose Javier Gutierrez Blanco-Navarrete (Deputy Director-General of International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain) stimulated with their presentations on the requirements of sustainable governance the debate among the participants who then shared their experiences around activities for ecological recovery and against climate change.

The second session of the Forum focused on the role of international cooperation in the fight against climate change and addressed the question: how can the EU and LAC strengthen their partnership to shape a greener recovery and promote sustainable development? Felice Zaccheo (Head of the EU Directorate-General for International Partnerships), José Luis Samaniego (Director of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), Sebastián Nieto (Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Unit at the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and Adrien Vogt-Schilb (Inter-American Development Bank) opened the second day with concrete investment plans and proposals for a transformation towards a low-carbon economy.

The participants of the XII. Reflection Forum unanimously stressed the importance of close cooperation between the EU and LAC. To this end, a "green partnership" is the main focus of bi-regional work between the two regions, since the challenges of climate change and other global crises cannot be solved unilaterally. The importance of exchanging knowledge and experiences from different countries and regions and the visualisation of common goals between the EU and LAC was emphasised. Furthermore, they underlined the desire to strengthen existing multilateral partnerships and to create alliances to work together on a proactive bi-regional agenda, without losing sight of the individual situation of each country.

Those present also highlighted the fundamental role of the EU-LAC International Foundation in bringing together actors to advance and concretise the strategic relationship between the two regions stemming from important historical, cultural, political, economic and personal ties. The event was closed by Dr Adrian Bonilla, Executive Director of the EU-LAC Foundation and Dr Jernej Müller, Policy Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia.

The XII. EU-LAC Reflection Forum was held in the framework of the International LAC Days of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia which has been held since 2018 to strengthen the European country's bilateral relations with the region.