Latin America and the Caribbean today launched the “Circular Economy Coalition”, a regional initiative to drive the transition to a sustainable economic system as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery.
The coalition was announced during a virtual event parallel to the XXII Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of the Environment Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by the Government of Barbados with the support of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
The initiative, coordinated by UNEP, will be headed by a steering committee made up of four high-level government representatives that will be renewed every two years, starting with Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and the Dominican Republic for the period 2021-2022.
“The planet can no longer support our way of extracting, using and wasting resources. It is urgent to build a common regional vision on the circular economy. The Coalition we launched today will help do just that and implement concrete and measurable practices,” said Colombia’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development and coalition President Carlos Correa.
Correa participated in the event together with Mariano Castro, Vice Minister of Environmental Management of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru, Rolando Castro, Vice Minister of Energy and Environmental Quality of the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, and Walter Verri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry, Uruguay Energy and Mining.
Resilient economic model
The circular economy proposes a resilient, diverse and inclusive economic model that creates opportunities for sustainable growth contrary to the “take, make and throw away” mentality. It fosters long-term economic productivity and green jobs, while tackling global challenges such as climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
The Coalition will support governments and the private sector – in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – to access adequate financing, in order to promote the mobilization of resources for innovation and the implementation of specific projects in the region.
The initiative has eight permanent strategic partners: the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), the Platform to Accelerate the Circular Economy (PACE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and UNEP.
In the circular economy based on eco-design all products and materials are kept in use, even those that could be considered waste, thereby eliminating pollution and allowing the regeneration of natural systems. Adopting these principles can reduce the use of raw materials by up to 99% and thereby help protect biodiversity, according to UNEP’s International Resource Panel.
Current climate discussions focus on the transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will help reduce 55% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The circular economy can eliminate the remaining 45% of GHGs that are generated by the way we make and use goods, and produce our food, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The Coalition aims to implement a circular economy approach through collaborative work between governments, companies and society as a whole.
“The creation of this coalition reaffirms the region’s commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with special emphasis on SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production, through the promotion of innovation, sustainable infrastructure and an inclusive economy and circular,” said Leo Heileman, UNEP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It is time to recognize that production and consumption patterns are the root cause of the triple global crisis of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and pollution. Let’s seize this unique opportunity to rethink our linear economy and reconfigure those unsustainable patterns,” Heileman concluded.