Policy Newsletter: El Salvador at a crossroads; plus news, analysis articles, and upcoming events.

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Region360.org Policy Newsletter

May 8 · Issue #9 · View online

We monitor hundreds of bilingual publications and organizations from across the sustainability and climate policy sectors in Latin America. Our human editors vet this content for quality and hand-pick the most stimulating and pertinent policy-related content. We have strong interests on climate adaptation and mitigation, SDG's, water and climate justice, indigenous rights, and gender equity.


Our new bilingual newsletter includes analysis and summaries of articles, events, and informational content we are curating for you bi-weekly . Our aim is to guide our reader’s through ongoing developments on sustainability and climate change policy in Latin America. Send us your comments at [email protected]

In This Issue: El Salvador in crisis, articles and events.
In this issue we take a closer look at a single country, El Salvador, where the party of President Nayib Bukele won a landslide victory in legislative elections in February this year. Bukele himself won the presidency with an ample margin in 2019, and his popularity placed him in an advantageous position to advance an agenda tackling the crises of corruption, poverty, and violence that have plagued the young democracy since it ended a bitter civil war in 1992. In addition to these challenges, however, El Salvador is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the hemisphere, as are all the small countries in the isthmus. 
The environmental challenges the country faces are staggering. We examine some recent analysis and coverage of the environmental situation in El Salvador, giving an overview of the scale of the crisis and proposed approaches to tackle it. A recent editorial by the Central American University (UCA) news service, titled “At the Edge of the Abyss,” depicts a country with the highest levels of environmental deterioration on the continent: loss of coastline at a rate of three meters per year due to rising sea level that has decimated important mangrove ecosystems and rising temperatures in an already warm tropical country. In addition, droughts, hurricanes, and damaged soils have triggered a crisis of agriculture and food security. According to the FAO, food insecurity is expected to reach over 1 million people in El Salvador in 2021. Covid-19 has only exacerbated the crisis and, according to World Food Program officials, may trigger more waves of migration during what will be a long recovery. Of all the ecological problems however, nothing is more pressing in El Salvador than the problem of water. In spite of the landmark ban on water-polluting mining in the country, El Salvador is one of the worst ranked countries on the continent when it comes to water justice indicators. For a superb overview of the struggles around water, we encourage you to read Jorge Cuellar’s article “El Salvador’s Hydrosocial Crisis” in NACLA, which is one of the most comprehensive overviews available for understanding the water crisis in El Salvador. 
Bukele and his party’s congressional majority, both elected with broad support by a hopeful electorate, have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enact transformative changes through a sustainable agenda focused on developing effective adaptation and mitigation strategies for resilience against the effects of environmental disaster and climate change. A clear, strong commitment and investments to fulfill the SDGs would have transformative consequences for the country given the dire status quo. Bukele has not shown a discernible interest in addressing sustainable development and climate change issues however. In his first UN address in 2019, he squandered his opportunity at the podium to speak, not of his commitment to the global 2030 Agenda, but to criticize the UN itself for the “inefficient” use of social media. As soon as his new congressional supermajority sat in the legislature on May 1st, they set about consolidating power for their leader (Bukele himself), taking over the judicial branch in a fashion that has sparked broad condemnation and alarm internally and abroad. Bukele has shown disregard for transparency and previous initiatives for access to information have been shelved during his tenure; his unwillingness to ratify the Escazú Agreement, a landmark regional treaty for environmental governance (which includes a commitment to access to information and protections for civil society actors working on environmental protection) is one of the most glaring examples of his political vision vis-à-vis the country’s environmental crisis. Moreover, Bukele has shown blatant disdain for organized civil society groups, NGOs, academia and journalists, all of which he claims are his opposition, rendering the prospects for multi-sectoral collaboration for a sustainability agenda non-existent. 
As with the rest of Latin America, we observe growing evidence of mobilization for climate justice in El Salvador from civil society groups, especially around water, mainly gathered in the Mesa Nacional del Agua (Water Board). Governmental institutions such as the Ministry for Natural Resources (MARN) and the National Council for Energy have inherited a cadre of well-trained technicians and the country recently inaugurated solar and wind farms. International cooperation is also increasingly tied to sustainability outcomes. These are some of the bright spots that give us hope for a change of direction in the country. At Region360, we are committed to monitoring progress in policy and action toward a sustainable future in the country; in particular, we will monitor the work of the civil society sector as it struggles to shape and influence the government’s agenda, and we will curate and analyze content from the country to help policymakers and all those interested in the country’s environmental situation remain informed. 
Happy Reading, 
The Editors, Region360 
Additional Events and Reports  
  • See below the recordings of a recent series seminars about Central American reality and prospects for a sustainable future.
  • You can also find the recordings of the Solve Climate by 2030 conversations held over the last few months.
Articles and reports…
El Salvador, SDG13: al borde del precipicio
Battered by Climate Shocks and Bruised by Economic Crisis Millions More in Central America Face Hunger
Full article: El Salvador’s Hydrosocial Crisis
Gobierno salvadoreño no firmará Acuerdo de Escazú
US-Central America: Mixed Reviews for First 100 Days of Biden’s Policies towards Central America
Chile, SDG 13: el dramático futuro de Chile ante el cambio climático
Open Access Booklet, SDG's 2,13: Una nueva guía para promover el derecho a las semillas Open Access Booklet, SDG's 2,13: Una nueva guía para promover el derecho a las semillas
Chile: country looks to repurpose its coal-fired power plants Chile: country looks to repurpose its coal-fired power plants
Upcoming and ongoing events…
Ongoing seminars: conversatorio permanente 2021-el hacer socioambiental durante y post pandemia Ongoing seminars: conversatorio permanente 2021-el hacer socioambiental durante y post pandemia
Upcoming online course, climate justice: resistencias descoloniales por la justicia socioambiental en nuestra América Upcoming online course, climate justice: resistencias descoloniales por la justicia socioambiental en nuestra América
Past event recaps, recordings, and summaries…
Event Recap: más de 6.400 latinoamericanos se unieron al Solve Climate by 2030 Event Recap: más de 6.400 latinoamericanos se unieron al Solve Climate by 2030
Event Recap: impacto de la infodemia en tiempos de COVID-19.
Event recording: Central America--un ciclo de seminarios que recorre la realidad centroamericana desde la perspectiva del enfoque regional del desarrollo Event recording: Central America--un ciclo de seminarios que recorre la realidad centroamericana desde la perspectiva del enfoque regional del desarrollo
Event recording: Argentina’s lithium industry and its role in the global renewable energy rransformation
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