NicaNotes: Nicaragua, COP26, Climate Justice, and Reparations

By Helen Yuill

[This article was first published by the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign of the UK on February 2, 2021.]

In the lead up to COP26 [the 26th meeting in Nov. 2021 of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], the Nicaraguan representative Dr Paul Oquist, argues that the high level of social and economic destruction caused by Covid-19 and its impact on humanity will be ‘small, transient and recoverable’ compared with the potential total, irreversible destruction of the climate crisis.

This is now a view shared by millions across the globe.

Paul Oquist argues for climate change reparations for poor countries.

Climate injustice is inseparable from social and economic injustice

Countries of the Global South, such as Nicaragua, have been impoverished by colonialism and centuries of subjugation to the needs and wants of the North.  The resulting climate injustice is therefore inseparable from the multiple forms of social and economic injustice and inequality between and within nations.

In the case of the climate crisis, countries of the Global South – such as Nicaragua – and their most marginalised citizens suffer the most severe consequences of climate extremes for which they bear the least responsibility. These countries also lack the resources to confront the violence of poverty, the violence of Covid-19 and the violence of the climate crisis.

Climate Justice and reparations for loss and damage

COP13 in Warsaw agreed to the ‘Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage’ which acknowledges that ‘loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change includes, and in some cases involves, more than that which can be reduced by adaptation.’

Massive Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Nicaragua in November 2020.

An Alliance of Small Island States and Least Developed countries argued a long standing claim for reparations for the disproportionate loss and damage they had suffered.  However, this was strongly resisted by developed countries and the final agreement focuses on ‘enhancing knowledge and understanding’ and ‘strengthening dialogue and coordination’, and ‘capacity building’.

The Paris Agreement 2015 (COP21) fudges on loss and damage

Nicaragua initially refused to sign the *Paris Agreement arguing that ‘doing so would mean being complicit in an Agreement that would lead to a catastrophic three degree increase in global warming because ‘the largest polluters lack the political will and ambition’ to address the most pressing issue facing the planet and humanity. Five years on, millions of people around the world would strongly agree with this view.

The Paris Agreement provides for the continuation of the Warsaw International Mechanism but explicitly states that its inclusion ‘does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation’. The inclusion of this clause was the condition on which developed countries, particularly the United States, agreed to a reference to loss and damage.

This meant that there was no apportioning of blame on the largest polluters, including the UK, historically responsible for the highest levels of emissions. In effect this means forcing countries of the Global South to bear the cost of climate extremes through loss of lives, livelihoods and environmental destruction.

After COP21 Paul Oquist stated: ‘The Paris outcome is similar to the rescue by governments of the banks that caused the 2008 financial and economic crisis, passing the bill for the crisis on to workers, pensioners and taxpayers. In Paris, the rescue was by the COP21 governments of the countries which have caused global warming, passing the cost to those least responsible who will die in the largest numbers unable to make good their losses, much less adapt to a change in climate increasing in intensity as the century wears on.’

COP26 in Glasgow, November 2021

In the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, the Nicaraguan government and other countries in the Global South will continue to call on COP26 leaders to address the question of climate justice by accepting the historical blame of developed countries and agreeing the principle of reparations.

*Nicaragua ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017 after finding itself – for completely opposite reasons – in a club of two with the Trump administration.

 

Briefs

By Nan McCurdy

 

Technical Education for Rural Youth Expanding

The Special Plan for Technical Education in the Countryside will be promoted through the National Technological Institute INATEC where 36,717 students will study 61 technical careers at 45 centers around the nation. The government is investing nearly US$3 million in improving centers in Bilwi, San Carlos, Somoto, Estelí, Rivas, Diriamba and others. (Informe Pastran, 8 February, 2021)

 

School Improvements in Caribbean Region

US$571,428 was invested for rehabilitation, expansion and equipping of the San Luis School in Rosita municipality, Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region, affected by hurricanes Iota and Eta. The renovated facility ensures continuity of access to free and quality education for 200 students. (Nicaragua News, 8 February, 2021)

 

Nicaragua Receives Safe Travel Stamp

The Latin American Travel Association of the United Kingdom (LATA) announced that Nicaragua received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travel Seal. LATA highlighted the safety of Nicaragua, the reactivation of its tourism industry and more. The note signed by Colin Stewart, president of LATA and director of Air Europa, said Nicaragua received the Safe Travels Stamp of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC “Safe Travels Stamp”) for its effective biosecurity measures, and for being a nation with the lowest number of cases and deaths due to Covid-19. (La Voz del Sandinismo, 4 February 2021)

 

More Protection for Consumers and Users of Financial Services

The National Assembly approved a Reform and Addition to Law No. 842 on Protection of Rights of Consumers and Users. The Reform establishes that users of financial services have the right to appeal for review when they feel that their rights have been violated or if they experienced discrimination on the part of a financial institution. Deputy Wálmaro Gutiérrez, President of the Production, Economy and Budget Commission said that “the reform establishes that it is the obligation of the State to guarantee the protection of the rights of the users and consumers of financial services in the country.” (Nicaragua News, 4 February 2021)

 

Consumer Defense Institute Supports Reform to the Law

Marvin Pomares, president of the Institute of Consumer Defense (INDEC) said the Institute supports the reform to Law 842 “because it reinforces the rights of consumers” so that banks can’t do whatever they want.” According to Pomares, in the last ten years the percentage of remittances sent to the country through private banks went from 25% to more than 60%, forcing the closure of a number of remittance companies that existed before. “No one among the people has said that this reform is bad, those who are against it are the bank magnates who want to keep all the cake. The people applauded the fact that the Central Bank is the regulator of the sector,” he said. He added that, before the reform, banks could close accounts for lack of movement, now they have to consult the account holder. (Informe Pastran, 5 February, 2021)

 

New Survey Shows Approval for all Aspects of the Government

Sixty-nine percent of the population approves the performance of President Daniel Ortega’s administration and 66.6% say the country is headed in the right direction, according to the latest survey released on Feb. 9 by the firm M&R Consultores. Seventy-six percent say that the government’s management generates hope for them. Nicaraguans overwhelmingly (93.4%) approve of the president’s call for unity, dialogue and consensus. The majority of respondents reaffirm their will for peace and stability by rejecting once again roadblocks [such as those used in the attempted coup of 2018] as mechanisms to solve political problems. They agree that roadblocks caused damage to the country’s economy and development. The FSLN surpasses 50% of sympathizers, once again located in the band between 50.0% and 58.7% where it was during the period 2011 – 2017. As a result of the violent events of 2018 it had dropped to 28.9% but has now rebounded, marking 51.5% in this survey. In comparison with14 years ago, 82.2% feel that Nicaragua has progressed and 69.8% say that Nicaragua’s future is one of stability, security and economic progress. Positive ratings of different institutions are as follows: The Army – 91.9%; the Health Ministry’s approach to combat Covid 19 – 89.2%; Education – 87.9%; Police – 90.7%; State of the roads – 90.7%; transportation service – 90.3%; electricity service – 89.7; potable water service – 85.8%; sewage service – 68.6%; and job opportunities – 57.9%. (Radio La Primerisima, 9 February, 2021)

 

Commitment to Affordable Housing

Vice President Rosario Murillo announced that the government is building 24,000 social housing units, part of which will be built this year. They also expect to turn over 50,000 lots with the Bismarck Martinez program. Murillo highlighted the delivery of 750 new property titles to families who will be able to enjoy legal security. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 February 2021)

 

Cervical Cancer Deaths on the Decline

There has been a 34% decrease in the mortality rate from Cervical Cancer, from 2007 to 2020. The government has made significant investments in infrastructure and other means to improve the care of cancer patients and reduce the cervical cancer mortality rate. Among these actions is the creation of the National Cytology Center to guarantee early diagnosis of cervical cancer. Currently there are two Linear Accelerators for cancer treatment. The Dr. Clemente Guido Oncology Center for Chemotherapy and Palliative Care was created in Managua. Investments have been made in modernization of equipment for cancer treatment, such as: Iodotherapy, Gammagraphy and other Nuclear Medicine equipment. Many more specialists have been trained in Radio-Oncology and Cyto-Technology. Free chemotherapy is guaranteed in seven hospitals: Estelí, León, Chinandega, Managua, Juigalpa, Chontales, Matagalpa and Bluefields-RACCS. Early detection and care clinics for Cervical-Uterine Cancer were also set up in the 19 SILAIS medical centers. Hospitals are now equipped with Cytotechnology laboratories. The number of women who receive Pap smears has increased from 181,491 in 2007 to 880,907 in 2020. Mammograms have increased from 151 in 2010 to 27,415 in 2020. For the early detection of cancer, technology has improved in Pathology Laboratories. (Radio La Primerisima, 4 February 2021)

 

Advances in Women and Children’s Health Recognized

Nicaragua was recognized for actions promoted by the Sandinista government in the health sector for women, children and adolescents. The award was granted by the Regional Interagency Coordination Movement EVERY WOMAN EVERY CHILD in Latin America and the Caribbean (EWEC-LAC), composed of different organizations like UNAIDS, UN Women, UNFPA, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, IDB and USAID. These organizations value the strategy of reducing maternal and perinatal mortality. Since 2007, the number of maternity wait homes (casas maternas) has increased from 50 in 2007 to 178 in 2020. Likewise, the number of pregnant women entering maternity wait homes has increased from 9,205 in 2007 to 67,222 in 2020. Maternal mortality has been reduced from 93 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007 to 37 deaths in 2020. Neonatal mortality has also been reduced by more than half. (Radio La Primerisima, 6 February 2021)

 

Investment in Small Enterprises Creates Employment

In 2020, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) disbursed US$37.9 million to intermediary financial institutions, directly benefiting 240 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which meant employment for 6,446 people. CABEI’s resources were allocated to three private financial institutions. According to CABEI’s Executive President, Dr. Dante Mossi “MSMEs in our region are a productive engine of great importance, most of them were affected by the health crisis and the good news is that this year in 2021 we will continue to promote the Financial Sector Support Facility for MSME Financing for our partner countries.” The resources were used for the expansion and modification of businesses, working capital and payment of obligations, consolidation or readjustment of debts, new enterprises, all with the aim of contributing to economic reactivation. (Informe Pastran, 5 February 2021)

 

Covid-19 Report February 9

The week of Feb. 2 to 8 there were 37 new registered cases of Covid, 34 people recuperated and one death. Since March 2020 there have been 5,064 registered cases of Covid, 4,845 recuperated and 171 deaths. (Radio La Primerisima, 9 February 2021)