Tackling Global Challenges: Are We on the Same Page? - An Interview with the Ambassador of Columbia to China on the G20 and COP26 Meetings

November 29, 2021
About the author:

H.E. Luis Diego Monsalve, Ambassador of Columbia to China


TIO: What are the top 3 issues facing your country and region in terms of necessities?
Colombia faces challenges similar to those of other countries in the world.
The first one is the pandemic. Our main current goals are to reach high vaccination rates and achieve economic recovery.
Second, Colombia is working on the consolidation of peace and legality to overcome the persistent challenges in the country after ending a five-decade conflict, seeking lasting peace and sustainable development.
Third, climate change and the protection of biodiversity are crucial for Colombia. Although we only represent 0.6% of global emissions, we are among the countries most affected by the effects of Climate Change. Our NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution), under the Paris Agreement, commits us to a 51% reduction in gas emissions by 2030, including an ambitious and achievable black carbon target that put us on the path to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
TIO: Were the needs of your country addressed at the two meetings?
Both meetings reflected the agreement to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees within reach, to accelerate actions towards net zero emissions by mid-century and a reaffirmation of the climate finance commitment of developed countries that will jointly mobilize USD 100 billion.
Regarding biodiversity, they echoed the COP15 commitment to halt and reverse the loss by 2030 and ensure that at least 30% of the global land and 30% of the global oceans and seas are conserved or protected in the same year. Colombia is committed to achieving this goal by 2022 with the announced planting of 180 million trees in our territory.
With the pandemic, the agreement was to ensure timely access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries and to establish a well-received joint finance and health task force to ensure funding for prevention, preparedness, and response faced with a pandemic, while addressing vulnerable groups such as women, youth, informal and low-skilled workers, and inequality, pledging to continue sustaining recovery and avoiding premature withdrawal of support measures.
We value the benefit of multilateral bank loans and bilateral donations, and we believe that all efforts made for economic recovery are welcomed by all nations.
Colombia has just announced in Glasgow our advances in green hydrogen and the proposal to create a global coalition to obtain fairer prices in the carbon markets. In addition, our President launched the Long-Term Climate Strategy, comprising a 30-year plan to achieve carbon neutrality as a climate-resilient and adapted country by 2050.
In addition, Colombia was chosen together with the EU to lead the COP26 Global Balance negotiations, as a process established in the Paris Agreement to monitor the status of each country's climate commitments. This role represents the will of Colombia to promote the concert of nations towards the achievement of all the agreed goals.
TIO: What needs to happen, to make the global governance system more responsive?
Definitely, there must be a decision to truly strengthen multilateralism. Although the multilateral system may have weaknesses, it has contributed positively to face common goals such as climate change, poverty reduction, peace, and stability, among others. Additionally, it allows countries to hold open discussions and dialogues on successful policies.
Everything can always be improved, and of course it is necessary to implement some reforms to the system and its institutions. For example, in matters of health and recognition and distribution of vaccines. If vaccines distribution is delayed, everyone will remain exposed. During the UN General Assembly this year, our President affirmed that ´´Global immunity requires solidarity and for some countries to not hoard vaccines in the face of the needs of others´´.  
We also have limited fiscal space to maneuver, which can become an obstacle to growing sustainably. Colombia proposed for a period, with the support of the IMF, in which a rule can be established where structural investment on climate is estimated outside the line of measurement of the fiscal deficit, as well as the unconditional application of debt relief or cancellations towards concrete achievements in the field of climate action.
Our region needs to strengthen green financing and the capitalization of the Inter-American Development Bank and CAF, the development bank of Latin America, to attend to urgent investments that should not be subject to political debate or internal conflicts regarding the allocation of resources.
TIO: What should be done and by whom?
The Colombian government has called for a global consensus, led by the IMF and multilateral development banks to establish new criteria for minimum fiscal risk in times of economic reactivation, otherwise, in the short term, the high demand for debt and rising capital costs could lead to a debt crisis with further setbacks.
On the other hand, each country must act decisively on the climate crisis and the search for equality, the adaptability of the market, the creation of policies and the role of society around current needs. Governments, in particular, play a decisive role in this effort.
TIO: What is the priority in which these issues should be addressed?
This needs a holistic approach. There is no economic recovery without action on global health and there is no sustainable and green development without fiscal measures that seek to alleviate debt, but the most important thing is that there is no case if humanity is not on the same page. We should all strive and prosper in a world that recognizes its differences but is capable of addressing common problems.

This article is from the November issue of TI Observer (TIO), which is a monthly publication devoted to bringing China and the rest of the world closer together by facilitating mutual understanding and promoting exchanges of views. If you are interested in knowing more about the November issue, please click here:


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