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Event Focuses on Latin American Leadership Ahead of COP 20

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary16 April 2014: An event titled ‘Governing Climate Change: New Ideas and Latin American Leadership as Peru Prepares to Host the 2014 UN Climate Negotiations' and hosted by Brown University in Providence, US, was chaired by former Chilean President Richard Lagos, who also previously served as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Participants included former Mexican President and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Felipe Calderón and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, via videolink. The event provided an opportunity to explore how Latin American leadership and innovative ideas are changing the climate change discourse and governance, and focused in particular on Peru's role as incoming president of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP 20 will convene in Lima, Peru, in December 2014.

In her statement, Figueres urged academic institutions to show leadership towards making 2014 the "Year of Ambition for climate action," including by divesting from coal. She noted that a number of large financial institutions and several universities have been divesting—or are considering divesting—coal and other fossil fuels from pension, endowment and other related investment funds. Figueres underlined the importance of using the power of capital to promote climate change solutions, noting "the irreversible path we are on toward low carbon," where high carbon assets will lose their value and “become stranded in the new economy.” She noted financial benefits in engaging in this transition, particularly given the increasing opportunities for investing in clean technology. She called on academic institutions still vested in fossil fuels to ask themselves “whether they are in breach of their social responsibility to serve the community, the nation and the world.” [Event Website] [Event Webcast] [UNFCCC Press Release]