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Opportunities and Challenges of Green Economy in Latin America

On 14 November 2016, the Center for Business in the Americas invited several experts to the Swiss Green Economy Symposium Forum to discuss market prospects and successes in Latin America.

The Paris Agreement of 2015 on the global reduction of CO2 emissions has set new targets for both industrialized nations and emerging markets. Latin American governments are currently implementing new laws to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and support the production of clean energy and reduced consumption. Swiss companies are leaders in clean technology and are increasingly exploring the Latin American market. At the Swiss Green Economy Symposium (SGES) Forum on Latin American market opportunities on 14 November 2016, hosted by the Center for Business in the Americas, experts from different companies and organizations discussed market prospects and successes in Latin America.

Not yet There – but Dynamic
Ronal Gainza, Program Officer of the Economy and Trade Branch at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), gave an overview of the greening of the economy and trade in Latin America. According to him, an improvement in human well-being and the reduction of environmental risk and ecological scarcities can be seen as major benefits of the ‘greening’ process. Nevertheless, countries in Latin America still lag behind in air pollution control and access to clean water. Several countries have come up with policy frameworks such as the Law for the Use of Renewable Energy in Mexico, the National Action Plan for Environmental Protection in Peru, or the National Green Growth Strategy in Chile. In a nutshell, Latin America is in a phase of dynamic growth and considered an excellent market for environmental goods and services, which are a vital factor in the achievement of social inclusion and the resolution of environmental issues. Waste, for example, can be turned into important resources for development in Colombia. This case was presented by Mathias Schluep from the World Resources Forum (WRF). Partner countries of its Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) program, such as Brazil, Peru, and Colombia benefit from the Swiss technology transfer on e-waste recycling. This program facilitates institutionalized multi-stakeholder action, supports the legislative process, and professionalizes recycling industries.

Case Studies from Established Players
Cornelius Torkuhl, Project Manager at Walo International AG, described how bituminous concrete, an innovative and environmentally friendly sealing material successfully entered the Latin American market due to an increasing demand for renewable hydroelectricity. He emphasized that quality control has long been more than just a luxury and has already become standard in Latin America. The only way to maintain a high standard of quality control is by investing in human capital and creating skilled staff. Bernhard Mathieu, Head of Sustainable Development, explained how LafargeHolcim is making construction more sustainable as well as affordable. By differentiating the products and making operations more efficient, the company has decreased its CO2 emissions by 26.1% from 1990 to 2015. Ueli Frei, President of Fundes International presented a business approach on how sustainable value chains are created by the collaboration of large corporations and governments with micro, small and medium enterprises. As a result of such collaborations managed by Fundes International, 20,000 ‘mom & pop stores’ in Latin America have so far received support, and five Colombian milk associations, with already 275 members, have been opened. Rainer Zah, Managing Director at Quantis International, gave interesting insights into how his company supports companies’ sustainability in Latin America. A so-called ‘life cycle thinking (LCT)’ process maps the life cycle of a product or service, from resource extraction to consumption, and assesses the impact each stage has on the environment.

Ronny Siev (middle) hosted the panel discussion with all the speakers.

Ronny Siev (middle) hosted the panel discussion with all the speakers.

Excellent Opportunities
The conference ended with a panel discussion led by Ronny Siev, Senior Project Manager at the Center of Business in the Americas. It discussed the future challenges of green economy in Latin America. Green economy is likely to benefit from technology, which is seen as a major driver, both economically and ecologically. The experts agreed that challenges for the future lie in maintaining and upholding the policy frameworks. The new mindset and policy frameworks on sustainability in Latin America represent excellent opportunities for Swiss companies with experience in this field.

Contact: Ronny Siev , Center of Business in the Americas


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