Circular Economy Opportunities for Building Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean Post-COVID

The circular economy, as an approach for sustainable development, has been gaining importance in LAC in recent years. New policies, public initiatives and circular economy roadmaps and programmes are already in place or emerging in many LAC countries.

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have unveiled shortcomings in the linear economy – the vulnerability of global value chains, the depletion of natural resources and the exacerbation of social inequalities.

In the context of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to bring about the largest economic and social crisis in decades exacerbating existing issues of inequality and poverty.

The circular economy, as an approach for sustainable development, has been gaining importance in LAC in recent years. New policies, public initiatives and circular economy roadmaps and programmes are already in place or emerging in many LAC countries. The discussion and policy approach to the circular economy in LAC is distinctive from other regions such as the EU and China due to the region’s special social and economic contexts as well as many LAC countries relying on natural resource exports.

The circular economy offers an attractive framework to adopt a more resilient and inclusive economic model for LAC countries that supports well-being, increases resilience and benefits business. A successful transition to an inclusive circular economy requires widespread adoption of ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies, consideration of social and environmental justice aspects and a stable investing framework beyond waste management supported by good governance and institutions.

Mining and extractives, waste management and recycling as well as sustainable food systems and agriculture are key sectors where the application of circular economy practices can offer major benefits for LAC countries.

As Chatham House is launching a new research paper The Circular Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Opportunities for Building Resilience, in this event the authors of the paper together with Latin American circular economy frontrunners discuss these themes and how building an inclusive circular economy in Latin America could support resilience in the region and globally in a post-COVID-19 world.

This WCEF online side-event is part of the World Circular Economy Forum Online 29-30 September 2020 that brought together circular economy changemakers from around the world as they share practical examples that will help us rebuild our economies stronger, greener and better.

Participants

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay
Pía Alonso Ribas, UNIDO Consultant
Guillermo González Caballero, Head of Circular Economy Office, Ministry of Environment Chile

Chairs:
Patrick Schröder, Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, Chatham House
Melissa MacEwen, Programme Manager, Energy, Environment and Resources, Chatham House