After two years of issuing the Paris Agreement in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), Nicaragua changed its mind about its stance towards the Agreement and signed it only a few weeks before COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

Nicaragua had a very contrasting stance on the Paris Agreement as opposed to that of the U.S.’s. Trump’s administration pulled out of the Agreement because the Trump administration believed that it would negatively affect its economy. Nicaragua, on the other side of the spectrum, thought the Agreement’s framework was too soft, relied heavily on voluntary pledges, and therefore held no country accountable or punished for its greenhouse gas emissions.

“If I told you the laws in your country are voluntary, will you follow them? You won’t,” the delegate from the Nicaragua Alliance on Climate Change specialized in environmental law, Bernis Cunningham, tells Climate Tracker.

But with Trump’s move, Nicaragua was encouraged to sign the Agreement. It didn’t want to be at Trump’s side of history, and wanted to be in solidarity with the affected countries which Nicaragua is one of.

“I really believe that our government signed the Paris Agreement as well because they want to be part of the negotiations,” Cunningham continues. “If we didn’t sign the Paris Agreement it would be really hard to engage in the negotiations now. So, we will fight for more engagement and more ambitions from the big emission countries and how we will finance this adaptation process.”

Nicaragua’s ambitions out of the COP23 is comprised in bringing some solutions and funding for the adaptation, anticipation and recovering in the aftermath of loss and damage caused by climate change; specifically, deforestation and flooding.

IMG_5430Deforestation has eaten up almost 40 percent of the country’s forestry reserves. “We have seen how bad things can be [in result of drought]; not only for small farmers, but for the entire population living in the area,” said Ladislao Rubio, United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development or IFAD’s Country Program Manager for Nicaragua. A phenomenon of the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, known as El Niño, made agriculture almost impossible, leaving more than 3.5 million people in Central America dependent on food aid to survive. “The only way to avoid these food crises is to build small farmers’ resilience to climate change by investing in climate-smart agriculture,” Rubio added. In contrast, heavy rains flooding Nicaragua have both claimed the lives of a dozen citizens and damaged infrastructure in different areas of the countries. Adaptation, loss and damage are some crucial aspects the environmentally vulnerable country is looking forward to tackle this year ahead of the post-Paris Agreement dialogues in 2018.

Leena Eldeeb

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