A Letter from our Policy Director
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latin America is experiencing the biggest economic contraction in its modern history, bringing with it a wide range of socio-economic challenges, including rising unemployment, growing levels of poverty and, in some cases, sovereign debt default. At the same time, land pressures, environmental risks and emerging climate-related challenges and extreme weather events are on the rise across Latin America, putting the region’s rich natural capital and biodiversity at peril. This translates into a latent risk to the entire region’s economic growth.
In spite of these challenges, Latin America has a unique opportunity to grow its way out of the current situation by better leveraging the green and blue economies, including exporting renewable energy (e.g., hydrogen), reviving regional coastal economies tied to environmentally responsible tourism and sustainable fisheries, and through the production and exports of environmentally friendly products.
Established in early 2021, the Institute of the Americas’ Environment & Climate Change (EC2) program looks to catalyze private sector-led sustainable financing, expanded exports, and responsible tourism and investment in Latin America by pro-actively working to empower a future generation of Latin business, public sector and civil society leaders committed to seizing the current COVID-19 moment to position their respective institutions and communities towards a more sustainable future.
Over the past several months, the EC2 program has established a strong partnership with UC San Diego’s Center for US-Mexican Studies to collaborate on different initiatives. It has also created strong ties with climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, through the Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP) that was merged into the IOA in June 2021. Our EC2 program also works closely with IOA’s Energy & Sustainability (E&S) program, through research and public programming on issues related to the energy transition.
A little over a year after our Program’s inception, we wish to reach your inbox once every two months through a brief e-newsletter, to let you know about our work and publications, future events, related news, and tools and articles that can be of interest. We’d love to hear from you as well; feel free to send us ideas, comments, and suggestions. This first edition is a bit long, as I have to introduce the program, and our great (albeit small) team. But bear with me, as the next ones will be shorter. I really hope you find our work interesting and please stayed tuned!
Our Recent Work
Together with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Pronatura Noroeste, the UC San Diego Center for U.S-Mexican Studies, Defensa Ambiental del Noroeste, and Wilcoast/Costasalvaje, the Las California Blue Carbon Initiative explores innovative finance mechanisms and cross-border, nature-based market solutions to protect coastal ecosystems shared by California and the Baja California Peninsula, that at the same time provide options for binational climate action. An interactive story map and complimentary reports are included for further background on both the Mexican and Californian perspectives of key species, sites, and potential sources of funding.
Launched in 2021, alongside Brookings Institution, the Initiative on Sustainable Development Goals at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, and the UC San Diego Center for U.S-Mexican Studies, the US-Mexico Climate Change Working Group brings together Mexican and U.S. experts to identify areas of cooperation and propose concrete recommendations to advance pressing climate issues ranging from energy efficiency to climate adaptation. You can read our Final Report in both English and Spanish here.
The EC2 program is currently working on dual white papers on air emissions and marine pollution created by Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) washwater from cruise ships. The first of these papers, A Hemispheric Regulatory Analysis of Scrubber Discharge Marine Pollution in Countries of the Americas, explores what different nations in the Western Hemisphere are doing to mitigate this problem through legislation and bans. The second study, Emissions and Effluents from Cruise Ships in the Bay of La Paz, Mexico From January 2020 to June 2021, quantifies the emissions and effluents from ten cruise ships that stayed during extended periods of time in the Bay of La Paz during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authored by the EC2 program’s non-resident fellow, Soffia Alarcón-Díaz, with contributions from Tania Miranda, a 3-part series of short documents discussing hot topics on sustainability and ESG issues is set to be published beginning this month! The first one, recently published, focuses on Scope 3 Emissions disclosure, the new proposed regulation by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), and its potential effect on exporting Small and Medium Enterprises from Latin America. You can download it here!