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Barranquilla in Colombia
Until June 10, France is celebrating the tenth edition of Latin America and Caribbean Weeks. On this occasion, AFD Group is organizing a series of events aimed at deepening the links between the two regions and promoting projects launched with our partner countries and civil society organizations. We catch up with Marie-Pierre Bourzai, Director of AFD Group's Latin America Department.

Originally published in June 2022, this article was updated on 26 May, 2023. 

What are AFD Group's priorities for action in Latin America?

Marie-Pierre Bourzai: They revolve around climate change, the erosion of biodiversity and social and gender inequalities. In fact, Latin America is one of the most unequal regions in the world. It is also severely exposed to the effects of climate change (with 2023 marking the return of El Niño, which affects many Andean countries). What makes it all the more vulnerable, is a significant part of the world's biodiversity is concentrated there. Yet the economy is linked to the exploitation of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. That’s why we’re supporting our partners in their quest to initiate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

We focus on the main sectors where greenhouse gas emissions are created, such as agriculture and transport, where we promote public transport, electric vehicles and sustainable agriculture. On a more global scale, we also support States in the development and implementation of their long-term low-carbon strategies, via various financing instruments.

Latin America is also one of the most unequal areas in the world. Our action supports the protection of human rights, access to quality public services, access to employment and the promotion of citizen participation, with a particular effort on gender. For example, we are working on the implementation of budgets sensitive to gender issues in local authorities in Argentina.

To this end, we regularly forge partnerships with regional banks, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Our presence there is relatively recent, but today we are the second largest bilateral donor there. Our goal is to be present in all the countries in the region – we have excellent relations with the national authorities. AFD Group is more Latin American than you might think!

What flagship projects does AFD Group support in the region?

M-P. B.: The year 2023 marks the resumption of our activities in Argentina, where AFD is supporting the strengthening of the energy transport system in several provinces of the country, co-financing with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Investment Bank. This project will integrate various renewable energy sources (148 MW in total), reforest 1,320 hectares, and green the country's energy mix. The objective is to improve access to quality, carbon-free electricity for 3.5 million people.

In Colombia, the agency is supporting the implementation of the Bogotá City Hall's development plan through financing of €150 million which will make it possible to meet two major challenges of the territory: reducing gender inequalities and supporting the mainstreaming of sexual diversity on one hand, and the mitigation and adaptation to climate change through investments in the field of sustainable mobility, waste management and increasing the city's vegetation cover on the other.

In the Amazon, we supplemented our interventions in the region (TerrAmaz project) and support for indigenous populations (TerrIndigena) with financing of up to €100 million in 2022. The first project concerns the bio-economy in Ecuador and support for an Amazonian public bank in Brazil. 

We also wanted to support the Latin American States in their initiative concerning environmental and climate justice, in particular the application of the so-called Escazú agreement and this in several countries such as Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico. The objective here is, faced with the need to provide a more effective framework for ecological transition, to protect the rights of everyone (rights defenders, whistleblowers, etc.) by acting on the environmental rule of law.

How does AFD participate in Latin America and the Caribbean Week?

M-P. B.: For this 2023 edition we wanted to highlight Brazil where we are celebrating this year the 15th anniversary of the start of our activities. Recent events having been marked by the Brazilian presidential election, we are organizing a conference on June 5 which will allow us to question the political, economic and environmental issues of President Lula's third term of office and the lines of balance between domestic and international politics.

We are taking part in the colloquium on the contemporary challenges of commodity trading, in partnership with the Institute of the Americas, the EU-LAC Foundation and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, a colloquium held on May 25 and 26 in Paris at AFD's headquarters. We will also be present on June 9 in Paris at the International Economic Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by the OECD and the IDB, which will focus on new partnerships for sustainable development.

Read the full AFD program here

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