Challenges for a climate compatible development. How to strengthen agricultural, livestock and forestry public policies



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The impacts of climate change in Latin America are of an increasing concern; particularly, those impacts that involve the agricultural, livestock and forestry areas, due to their high dependence on climatic conditions. This leads to a situation of economic, social, environmental and political vulnerability, putting at risk food safety, human security and the basic conditions necessary to reduce poverty. 

The agricultural, livestock and forestry areas have a great relevance for the countries of our region, because of their contribution to Gross Domestic Product, to the employment generation and to exports (Ryan, 2012), as well as their key role in food production for the whole word, among other things. Thus, the climate impacts affect the contribution of these areas to the national and regional economic growth, reducing in turn the capacity of the State to support sustainable development policies. Moreover, climate impacts may bring inflationary consequences in the food markets, influencing negatively the human security standards in the region and in the world.

The regional, national and sub-national policies aimed to the climate issue have been rarely effective in reverting the present situation and the discouraging projected scenarios. Although improvements have been carried out in policy-making, particularly in those policies regarding the creation and development of a specific institutional framework in the area, there is still a strong deficit in achieving the effective implementation of those policies.

This situation poses different challenges and questions for decision-makers. For example: Which are the necessary conditions for the development of effective climate change policies? How can a State encourage the technical quality and the legitimacy of these policies to maximize the opportunities and avoid potential conflicts? How can progressive damages associated with the lack of coordination between development policies and climate change policies be decreased, enhancing, in turn, the population quality of life and reducing poverty? How can efforts to include climate change policies be capitalized in a development perspective? How can resources be used more efficiently to face the budgetary demands to which the States are subjected to? Finally, how should circumstantial urgencies be faced without leaving behind the important issues for the medium and long term? 

In that scenario, the reinforcement of the State’s capacity to face these challenges becomes crucial. The present document seeks to provide key arguments and guidelines for decisionmakers to develop urgent and effective policies for climate compatible development2. Accordingly, it is necessary to adopt consensual climate policies resulting from broad and multisectoral processes of dialogue covering the whole life-cycle of policies in order to achieve a sustained political and social support. In this context, it is relevant to harmonize the objectives with those of other development policies; to prefer the preventive to the reactive approach; to allocate enough budget resources; and to enhance the relevance of the multilevel multi-actor work; in short, to promote the legitimacy, sustainability and real impact of the policies.