Speaking on Tuesday to the Conference of the Secretariat General Iberoamericana in Madrid, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said that the agreements from last year's conference in Cancun, Mexico, "signified what was a big step forward for the community of nations, but a small step for the planet."
The agreements formalized pledges to mitigate emissions, set up the foundation for a technology transfer mechanism, and improved the Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) system, which aims to place financial value on the carbon stored in the world's forests.
Figueres explained that at Cancun, the REDD system was augmented by the creation of REDD-Plus, which will help with conservation of forests and their sustainable management.
"Latin American countries need to seize this opportunity and craft forest-related policies on the national level that go hand- in-hand with the Cancun Agreements so that the greatest benefits can be achieved," Figueres said.
She also pointed out that Latin America could invest in renewable energy, noting favorable wind conditions and geothermal resources in many countries throughout the region, said the officials.
"The use of renewable energy needs to be expanded and go much further through the appropriate policies, incentives and government support at the national level," she said. "The Cancun Agreements provide many incentives that need to be utilized towards this."