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The critical need for all countries to work on low emission strategies – Andrea Guerrero, winner of our Leadership Award, on her work

Andrea Guerrero of the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) and winner of the LEDS GP Leadership Award for ‘acting on implementing’ speaks to Cathryn Poff on her work with Colombia’s low emission development planning and the heightening awareness of climate change across country governments.

Andrea Guerrero’s work for the Colombian government has taken her deep into the realities of her country facing climate change. She started the Colombian Low Carbon Development Strategy, helping create capacity for mitigation actions, a process that has been emulated by many countries. And for her, it’s all part of the job. “I started in the Ministry of Environment so that’s the place where people are thinking about [climate change],” she says. “And I come from biological sciences. So it was a natural thing … and trying to think how that could become appealing and interesting to sectors, and sort of take the green label off of it and try to get people to think about it as an efficiency and productivity issue and a co-benefit issue. So that’s been kind of my inspiration.”

The Colombian government started taking low emission strategies seriously after the Cancun Conference of the Parties (COP16). “We suddenly started seeing that many developing countries were putting commitments… on the table,” explains Guerrero. “We saw that we were terribly unprepared to because we hadn’t analyzed which were smart actions for the country to take to lower emissions and at the same time gain more efficiency, productivity, etcetera. So we started working on the low carbon development strategy.”

Guerrero’s work has figured prominently in her country’s low emission development planning. And she sees the work of her team as one element of a heightened awareness in government and the general public about climate change in Colombia. “Before, they didn’t know what it was or they thought it was a tree-hugger thing, a green issue,” Guerrero says. “And now more and more they’re realizing that it’s an economic issue, something that can be to their advantage as well. And you see ministers of mines and energy, ministers of transport, talking about it and mentioning it in their speeches and including climate change issues in their planning, so I think it’s had a great impact.”

She believes it’s critical for all countries to work on low emission strategies. “I think it needs to be the path that countries take,” she says. “Because if we don’t all do it, it becomes a race to the bottom instead of to the top. Because if your neighbor’s not doing it, you’re kind of saying why do I have to do it if they don’t have to do it? And then competitively it doesn’t make sense. And so it all kind of tumbles down if there’s not a worldwide commitment to this.”

Guerrero and her colleagues believe a critical part of their work comes in the aftermath, sharing their experiences with other governments to assist them in their planning. They have imparted their lessons learned to governments as diverse as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. “We shared experiences, the things that went well and the things that didn’t so much,” she remarks. “We’ve shared them with quite a few countries.”

Winning the LEDS GP award was a pleasant surprise for Guerrero. “It was very moving for me that people thought I contributed. It wasn’t of course just me [who did the work]. It was the team we had at the ministry and the people that have worked on it from [other] programs and from all the ministries have been amazing, people who are completely devoted to this. So that they considered that I helped build it is really special to me. So I was very happy.”

The other categories for the LEDS Leadership Awards were as follows:

For more information on our LEDS GP Leadership Awards, please see here.

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Cathryn Poff


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