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Climate Change and the Social Question in a Post-Pandemic World: Views from Latin America

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Time: 1.00pm - 3.30pm
Price: free
Speaker(s): Various

Climate Change and the Social Question in a Post-Pandemic World: Views from Latin America

Join us online for this conference discussing policies and challenges facing Latin America and Caribbean due to the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This conference will be held in Spanish and English. Interpretation will be available via the Interactio App (available from the Apple Store or Google Play store) or access the web app from your laptop Google Chrome browser

Date: 15 October 2021

Time: 14h to 16:30h BST / 15h to 17:30h CET / 10h to 12:30h Santiago time

Organised by Dr Mauro Pucheta, Kingston University London with the support of the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London


Dr César Álvarez Alonso, Adjunct Professor of Public International Law, Administrative Law and Economic Regulations, IE Law School. IE University, Spain

Dr Pedro Pablo Silva Sánchez, Head of International Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Chile with the support of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile.

This event is on International Science Council COP26 knowledge portal:

Opening Remarks:

Frank Tressler, Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva

Dr Mauro Pucheta, Lecturer in Law at Kingston University.

Panel 1 - Labour Market Policies and the Green Agenda in Latin America: Challenges


Dr César Álvarez Alonso, IE Law School


Dr Andrea Lucas Garín, Universidad Autónoma de Chile

Dr Pedro Pablo Silva SánchezHead of International Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Chile

Oscar Andres Quesada Mora, Development Projects Coordinator, Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade, Costa Rica

Laila Brandy, Chief of Staff, Secretary of Employment, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, Argentina.

Panel 2 - The Green Transition and Latin American Workers: Opportunities for a new Social Contract

Chair :

Dr Mauro Pucheta, Kingston University London


Dr Belén Olmos GiupponiAssociate Professor in Law, Kingston University London

Laura Martín Murillo, Head of the Just Transition Institute, Ministry of Ecological Transition, Spain

Ana Belén Sánchez López, Former Regional Green Jobs Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean at the ILO.

Closing Remarks:

Moustapha Kamal Gueye, Global Coordinator, Green Jobs Programme, International Labour Organization.

Background: Latin America accounts for around 20% of COVID-19 cases worldwide. This has resulted in the implementation of policies that have implemented confinement, closing borders and slowing down, in some cases drastically, economic activity. As Latin America and Caribbean are facing serious challenges due to the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, as the World Bank has pointed out, many countries suffer additional impacts from the rapid environmental changes. It points out that ‘heat extremes and changing precipitation patterns are already adversely affecting urban areas, agricultural productivity, hydrological regimes, and biodiversity, with impacts on the Amazon rainforest particularly pronounced and devastating. Ocean acidification, sea level rise, tropical cyclones, and temperature changes are expected to negatively impact coastal livelihoods, tourism, health, and food and water security, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean'. This is largely due to factors such as the strong dependence on natural resources. The economic growth and thus labour market in the region, heavily relies upon the exploitation and exportation of raw materials, such as metal, hydrocarbons and food. This remains one of the biggest challenges of the region where some countries have already entered into the ‘fourth-generation' of extractivist processes, such as Argentina that are linked to the production of unconventional hydrocarbons via fracking.

Climate change has been presented as an opportunity for the region to renegotiate the existing social contract in order to reduce the unacceptable poverty and inequality that affects the continent, and to protect the planet. It has been argued that clean energy and clean transport are key sectors in the region's agenda to rebuild better. However, in a post-pandemic world, countries in the Global South, which are engulfed in economic and sanitary crises, are probably more concerned about economic recovery than the protection of the environment. Therefore, Latin American and Caribbean countries may feel tempted to focus on fossil-fuel energies as well as less eco-friendly measures in their COVID-19 recovery programmes.

The transition towards greener economies implies significant structural changes whose immediate impact on labour can be severe. That being said, it may also present several opportunities for labour markets of the region. Here is where just transition and green jobs become relevant, as guiding notions for environmental and employment policy makers. If measures like the closure of coal-fired power plants or mining plants are implemented along with these mechanisms, those possible negative impacts may be reduced. This is not an easy task, particularly given the complexities of the Latin American and Caribbean region. However, the transition to net-zero economies could be an opportunity for the region. The International Labour Organisation predicts that the energy decarbonisation processes have the potential to create 15 million new green jobs (net) for the region by 2030.

The climate crisis requires urgent action to ensure that disadvantaged workers and communities, which are usually hit the hardest, are protected. Recent studies demonstrate that there is a link between the increase of CO2 emissions and inequality in society. It is crucial to provide alternative solutions for workers in fossil fuel-dependent regions; otherwise, there is a high risk that these regions could witness serious economic turmoil that might result in political unrest and degradation of the social order. Therefore, decisive adaptation measures must be taken to reduce damages. Their cost will be only a fraction of the long-term cost of inaction. In this context, green job creation and just transition will play a crucial role in developing and strengthening the synergies between labour and nature.

Although the fight against climate change is a global enterprise, national solutions are usually preferred to ensure the safety of the planet. However, countries have different economic, social, political and cultural realities. Therefore, a Global South perspective, which includes Latin America and the Caribbean, is deemed to be necessary and unavoidable. The protection of workers' rights needs to consider the particular challenges of the region, such as the high rates of informality and precariousness make it extremely challenging the adoption of just transition measures that encompass everybody.

Booking is essential to attend this event.

For further information about this event:

Contact: Faculty of Business and Social Sciences