Latin America bets on the circular economy to solve its environmental problems | Science and ecology

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the face and the cross of the same reality live: while 47 million people suffer from hunger, each year more than a third of what is produced is wasted, which is equivalent to about 127 million tons of food. Likewise, despite the fact that the region concentrates 40% of the Earth’s biodiversity and 60% of the world’s terrestrial life, since 1975 these figures have considerably decreased. In addition, the region has 9 of the world’s 24 fronts of deforestation due to agricultural, livestock and mining activities, as well as transport infrastructure and fires.

Faced with all these environmental and social challenges, the circular economy has been proposed as a way to solve some of them. For this reason, the Alliance for the Circular Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, formed in 2021, launched the publication “Circular Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Common Vision”.

“It is important to reach a common understanding of what the circular economy is and what it is not, the specific opportunities it brings to the region and how to address its challenges as well” , explains Vanessa Esslinger, coordinator of the Circular Economy Alliance for Latin. America and the Caribbean. Thus, “this document aims to align the players and generate joint business,” he adds..

Building on three axes – eliminating waste and pollution, bringing products and materials to market at the highest level and rejuvenating nature – the initiative aims to foster a post-COVID-19 recovery that moves away from an economic model. extractive. “A common denominator has been sought for all countries, the priority issues that each seeks to promote: plastics, e-waste, food and agriculture, tourism, cities, construction, we all have opportunities for improvement and we can contribute Rolando Castro Cordoba, vice minister of energy in Costa Rica, told DW that along with Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Peru, he was part of the alliance’s steering committee.

Regarding Colombia’s work on the circular economy, Gadeira Vivanco, coordinator of Latitude R for Colombia and Central America, a platform that promotes inclusive recycling in the region, told DW that this South American country ” has been dynamic in generating policies that foster this new model economy.” he also recalls that Colombia was the first country in the region to issue a circular economy strategy.

The region has 9 of the 24 global deforestation fronts causing one of the largest biodiversity losses on the planet.

joint work

Castro Cordoba highlights the collaborative work that went into developing the publication. “The vision was built jointly with representatives of member states and party organizations, who are subject matter experts,” he says. These include the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), co-founder of the initiative, the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), among others.

Since 2019, we have seen an increase in public and private initiatives in the region. Therefore, the idea was born to meet the relevant actors in an alliance to create more synergies and work together so that the region evolves towards resilience”, recalls Nicole Stober, director of the regional program for energy security and climate change. in America. (KAS) who asserts that the post It presents a realistic panorama of our performance and at the same time shows the opportunities and obstacles linked to the reality of Latin America.

In the case of Costa Rica, “This vision helps to define early actions on environmental issues that we have better implemented, such as neutral branding in terms of social responsibility, cleaner production agreements, tourism sustainability certificates, awards such as the eco-blue flag and actions within the framework of OECD membership, among others”, details the deputy energy minister of the Central American country who presented its national decarbonization plan three years ago.

The extraction of resources from the linear economy deteriorates the Latin American environment.

Inclusive approach and participation of all sectors

A feature of this guide is its holistic approach, “the pivot that will be necessary to be able to achieve the objectives set for the circular economy”, according to Vivenko. “Mass recycling represents an evolution of the economy around recycling, there are associated environmental benefits which can also be expressed in resources and there is clearly a social development component which allows job creation. It is essential to understand that the recycling value chain will be more efficient with formal and valued recycling,” he asserts, recalling his primary role.

“We must realize that they are the ones who continue to be at the center of material recovery so that many of them can embark on their path to recycling, if recyclers do not save this waste, it will be impossible to achieve this objective,” he stressed, calling for technical support in infrastructure and raising awareness among the population to improve the working conditions of this union.

As Vanessa Esslinger, Circular Economy Alliance Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, says, “The Alliance will complement this work by strengthening training that will help establish a baseline and track progress. of the transition to a circular economy”.

However, to achieve this, it is necessary to involve all sectors of society: governments, businesses and citizens. “All parties have a responsibility to ensure compliance with proposed activities and support their implementation,” Castro recalls. In this sense, the Alliance is meant to compile and present good practices in the region.


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