Circular Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean Declaration gains momentum in the region and calls for action.

Published on Tuesday, 28 June 2022

The event called 'The Transition Towards Circular Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean: The challenge of decarbonization and electrification' took place at the headquarters of ECLAC in Santiago on May 5. The event was attended by institutions, experts and companies from all over Latin America and was an opportunity to take stock of ongoing activities and to reflect on future courses of action to take.

The event, jointly organized by ECLAC, the Italian Embassy in Santiago, the British Embassy in Santiago and Enel, focused in particular on the theme of the urban transition to a circular economy.

A key focus was put on the challenges and opportunities for urban transition in Latin America and the Caribbean. For several years, cities have been facing both domestic challenges, which we can collectively define as the quality of life they offer their residents - which is the very raison d'être of living in a city - and global challenges, such as their role in addressing the climate crisis. The social and economic impact of the pandemic has expedited this thought process, further challenging the current urban model. Through sharing global, and in particular Latin American, best practices, the event aimed to encourage reflection and discussion of the theme of how cities have to rethink their future development in order to remain the powerhouses of innovation and opportunity for a country’s population.

The event was inaugurated by ECLAC's Acting Executive Secretary Mario Cimoli, Chile's Housing and Urbanism Minister, Carlos Montes, the Italian Ambassador to Chile, Mauro Battocchi, the British Ambassador to Chile, Louise de Sousa, the Governor of Chile's Metropolitan Region Claudio Orrego, and the Latin American Director of Enel, Maurizio Bezzeccheri.

Other dignitaries in attendance who shared their experiences and who contributed to the objectives of the final declaration included: Chile's Transport and Telecommunications Minister, Juan Carlos Muñoz, Energy Minister, Claudio Huepe, representatives from the Italian and British governments, local authorities from Italy's Lombardy region, and representatives from the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Bogotá (Colombia), and Angra do Reis (Brazil). Also present were delegates from international organizations such as ECLAC, the IDB and the UN, Professor Pablo Allard from Chile's Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD), and executives from Britain's ARUP Group and Enel.

Mr. Mario Címoli commented that the largest economies of scale are realized in an urban setting which is also where there is the largest concentration of people. These are key elements for growth and sustainable development in a region where inequality, poverty, an informal labor market and environmental hazards are widespread. He extended the invitation to authorities from cities across the region to join the Circular Cities Declaration, which was signed on October 25, 2021 by nine cities in Latin America and the Caribbean which demonstrated their commitment to fostering and accelerating the transition towards greater circularity.

Italy's Ambassador to Chile Mauro Battocchi said that the major environmental challenges that cities face are: the reduction of carbon emissions, the intensity of use of energy and natural resources, the reduction of pollution and other impacts that human activities have on nature. He also mentioned the need to alleviate the stress of living in large urban areas and to improve mental health.

Enel's Director for Latin America Maurizio Bezzeccheri stressed that setting clear targets and regularly measuring progress is of fundamental importance for successfully transitioning to circularity. He added that the circular economy is a relatively new idea and that Latin America and the Caribbean could take a leading role in its development and that Enel wants to play a major part.

During the UN Global Compact event on 4 May, a Multi-stakeholder Energy Compact was also unveiled by the government of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, Enel, and the Universidad del Desarrollo. The initiative encompasses Santiago's vision for 2030 and includes increasing the use of electricity for transport and heating, moving away from more polluting fuels and expanding the use of solar as an energy source in the region. The plan also involves reaching 100% electric buses on the public transport system by 2030, expanding the network of electric charging stations as well as taking other measures to accelerate the shift to electric transport.

The event confirmed a firm interest and commitment to cities and to the transition to a circular economy in the region. It underscored the importance of sharing best practices and collaboration between institutions, cities and private companies. The ECLAC Declaration of October 2021 undoubtedly represents an option to accelerate this transformation.




Here you can watch the whole event: Hacia las ciudades circulares en América Latina y el Caribe.