Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are highly exposed to natural hazards and climate-related shocks. The human and economic costs of disasters have been increasing due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, climate change impacts, among other causes. The adverse effects of climate change could worsen the impact of extreme events, resulting in significant fiscal and social impacts.
Disasters and climate change have the potential to reduce the recent gains in poverty reduction in the region. In the last fifteen years, the LAC region has made considerable progress in reducing poverty and consolidating the middle class. However, the high frequency of disasters can increase transitory poverty as households use negative coping strategies such as reduction of spending and consumption or the sale of family and productive assets.
LAC countries pioneered the development of non-contributory social protection systems targeted to the poorest and economically vulnerable population. Despite the potential of these systems as vehicles to increase the resilience of poor and vulnerable populations in the face of adverse natural events, many of them have been underutilized. In recent years, the region has seen many examples of countries using their social protection systems to respond to disasters and protect the poorest as well as to increase prevention and rapid response to recover from disaster. The World Bank, World Food Program and other international organizations have been working jointly with countries in LAC to strengthen their social protection systems to incorporate disaster risk management into their design. As part of this technical dialogue, there is a growing consensus on the importance of promoting the exchange of experiences in this area among the countries of the region.
The objective of the Forum is to share recent experiences from LAC countries on the use of social protection programs, services, and instruments to build resilience to, and respond to climate-related risks and shocks. The Forum will create spaces to deepen dialogue and knowledge sharing on this topic and explore how social protection programs and instruments can be adapted and strengthened based on the risk profile and social protection system characteristics among countries in the region.
The Forum builds on recent knowledge-sharing events on this important topic, including the World Bank’s South-South Learning Forum (SSLF) which took place in Frankfurt Germany in February, 2018, which brought over 70 countries from across the globe to discuss Adaptive Social Protection and its applicability to different shock types. It also builds on agreements made by LAC countries during the World Food Program’s Regional Seminar on Shock-responsive Social Protection in Latin America and the Caribbean which took place in Lima, Peru in October, 2017. As such, this event will help continue capacity building, knowledge-sharing, and cross-country learning to ensure that SP systems in LAC are better prepared to address the impacts of climate-related risks and shocks.