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Q2 – 2022

President & CEO’s Column

Earlier this month, the United States hosted the IX Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles with a focus on Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for our hemisphere.   The Summit was attended by 23 heads of state from across the region and was complimented by three parallel convenings — IV CEO Summit of the Americas, IX Civil Society Forum and VI Young Americas Forum.   At the Summit, the Institute of the Americas (IOA) was represented by board members, Rolando González-Buster, Manuel Estrella, Advisory Council member, Richard Feinberg and IOA’s Energy & Sustainability Vice President, Jeremy Martin and me. 

Much of the Summit’s media attention was focused on the authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua (CVN trio) that were not invited to Los Angeles as well as the heads of state of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that opted out of the triennial convening due to the exclusion of the CVN trio.  Given the growing polarization and weakening of democratic institutions across the Americas, such disagreements were to be expected.


IOA partners with UCSD to organize Pacific Climate Forum of the Americas

The Institute of the Americas (IOA) partnered with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD’s School for Global Policy and Strategy to organize virtually the Pacific Climate Forum of the Americas on June 1-3, 2022, in the context of the 9th Summit of the Americas. Through more than 10 sessions and four scientific briefings, we hosted over 30 experts from multiple countries— including Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the United Sates—who shared their experiences, research, and lessons learned

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Policies toward Authoritarian States in the America

During two half-days of rich dialogue on May 12-13, 2022, the Institute of the Americas convened a virtual forum to discuss “U.S. Policies toward Authoritarian States in the Americas: Fresh Thinking Amidst Changing Geo-Politics.”  The forum was organized in an effort to examine U.S. policy vis-à-vis Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua (CVN) in anticipation of the IX Summit of the Americas hosted by the United States in Los Angeles earlier this month.

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IOA Signs MOU with Baja Energy Commission to promote expanded energy access in Baja California

In May, the Institute of the Americas (IOA) and the State Energy Commission of Baja California signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a project aimed at eradicating energy poverty throughout the state.

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As leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean descended upon Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas in mid-June, we released a first-of-its-kind project assessing energy transition workforce readiness in several Latin American countries. The Latin America Energy Transition Workforce Readiness Barometer and Energy Transition Snap Shots for each of the eight countries, as well as a detailed report, are now available via this dedicated web site.

The quarter saw the return of our in-person events. First in Spain and later in Buenos Aires. In April, we relaunched the Madrid Energy Conference: Where Europe and Latin America meet for energy dialogue. Our next in person event took place in Buenos Aires in mid-May.

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Colombia elects Gustavo Petro: Rapid Response Briefing on Economy, Energy and International Relations

A panel featuring our Non-Resident Fellow, Roger Tissot, and John Padilla of IPD Latin America, was convened just after Gustavo Petro claimed victory in second round presidential voting in Colombia. The panel assessed whether Petro arrives in Casa de Nariño in August with a clear mandate. Petro’s efforts to build coalitions in congress and implement economic and energy policies, as well as how the new administration will reset international relations with neighboring Venezuela and the United States, were key discussion themes.

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Geothermal Across the Americas – Part I: Geothermal as a Game Changer

The panel discussion in the first installment of our new webinar series focused on the enormous potential derived from a variety of sources, ranging from traditional development to shallow low grade (low enthalpy) heat available everywhere, but also repurposing of oil & gas wells to extract heat. Perhaps most exciting and potentially game-changing is the potential to extract lithium from geothermal brine. Pilot projects are underway as the panel discussed and proof of concept and scale is pending.

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Latin American Energy Transition Workforce Readiness Assessment and Barometer

Countries across Latin America have long faced challenges with regards to fostering sustained economic development, specifically in creating economic opportunities that translate to jobs. It is crucial to understand the role of the energy transition as a policy objective and overall economic framework for the region’s governments, as well as within the private sector and academia. A deeper understanding of the current context can allow for a more informed sense of the potential employment opportunities related to the energy transition, along with the extent to which the region is prepared to obtain them.

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Argentina Energy Roundtable

Across two days, speakers shared key insights on a wide range of issues from how to define energy transition in Argentina, the role of renewables as viewed by the current administration, nuclear energy, hydrogen, lithium and the ongoing effort to truly leverage Vaca Muerta including resetting regional integration and LNG. Above all, the element of macroeconomic stability and how to manage financing – particularly against the current global backdrop – cut across all the sessions.  There was a noticeable level of optimism in the formal remarks of speakers, but also in the foyer during the coffee breaks and cocktail.

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Easter and Electricity in Mexico – The Electric Sector Reform Debate, Congressional Vote and What Comes Next

Our compilation of essays focused on the electric sector in Mexico. Following up on the historic vote in Congress on Easter, our Mexico team shared their thoughts and insights: Easter and Electricity in Mexico – The Electric Sector Reform Debate, Congressional Vote and What Comes Next

Desafíos y Oportunidades para el Sector Productivo de México

We also issued a report based upon discussions and the proceedings at a forum we supported that was hosted by the Mexican Congress assessing the country’s economic competitiveness:  Desafíos y Oportunidades para el Sector Productivo de México

Madrid Energy Conference

The importance of how to balance energy security and climate action cut across all our panels and discussions. The relaunch solidified the Madrid Energy Conference as the nexus for Latin American and European energy leaders to discuss energy transition solutions and clean energy advances. This year was also particularly sensitive as participants debated how to navigate challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 and unfolding from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly in terms of finance and fiscal stability in Latin America.

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Pacific Climate of the Americas Forum

The IOA, along with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD’s School for Global Policy and Strategy, organized virtually on June 1-3, 2022 the Pacific Climate Forum of the Americas. Thanks to our world-class line-up of panelists, we reached more than 350 viewers from across the continent, from Canada to Chile. The exchange of knowledge and best practices shared during this three-day forum will hopefully assist policy- and decision-makers in crafting and implementing effective climate and environmental policies in the region, responsive to the needs of coastal communities throughout the Americas. Given that around 25% of the Latin American population lives at or near the coasts, effective strategies for promoting the blue economy, that simultaneously tackle resilience and biodiversity conservation, are of the utmost importance.  You can download the high-level proceedings report here.

Las Californias Blue Carbon Initiative Report

Together with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Pronatura Noroeste, and the UC San Diego Center for U.S-Mexican Studies, the IOA launched the Las California Blue Carbon Initiative to explore 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. The final summary report can be found in English here, and in Spanish here.

U.S. – Mexico Climate Change Working Group

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 titled “A Prosposed Agenda for U.S.-Mexico Climate Change Discussions and Potential Collaboration” in both English and Spanish here.

As part of this initiative, on June 6th, 2022, the Tec de Monterrey, Santa Fe, hosted a hybrid convening to discuss the final report. 

Ship-born Marine Pollution Project

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, Baja California Sur, Mexico, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This analysis can also be consulted in Spanish here. Lastly, we produced a 4-minute video capsule in Spanish surrounding the issue of ship-borne marine pollution and its current regulation. 

Scope 3 Emissions – Decarbonization Across The Supply Chains

Authored by the EC2 program’s non-resident fellow, Soffia Alarcón-Díaz, with contributions from EC2 Policy Director Tania Miranda, this technical briefing note published in April 2022 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.


IOA co-sponsors supply chain forum with US-Mexico Chamber highlighting ESG compliance

On April 29th, 2022, we partnered with the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce-California Chapter to discuss emerging U.S.-Mexico Logistics and Supply Chain Challenges with leaders in the region. Soffia Alarcón-Díaz, IOA non-resident fellow, presented on future challenges and opportunities for supply chains that stem from the new proposed regulation by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission on emissions and climate risk disclosures.



Distinguished Speaker Luis de la Calle on USMCA & the Future of Mexican Economic Competitiveness

On May 23, we were delighted to our first in-person event at the Institute since the pandemic started. It was a pleasure to welcome 85 community stakeholders to the Institute’s meeting facilities. Our guest speaker was Luis de la Calle, Ph.D. Managing Director and Founding Partner of de la Calle, Madrazo, Mancera, S.C., and former undersecretary for international trade negotiations in Mexico’s Ministry of Economy. He spoke on the “USMCA & the Future of Mexican Economic Competitiveness.” We extend our gratitude to The Burnham Foundation and SENTRE for their generous support. Watch recording



Calling All Former and Potential New Institute Members

With the Institute’s launch of Public Programs focused on the communities of Southern California and Baja California as well as our friends across the entire Americas, we are offering opportunities for you to become an Institute supporter receiving exclusive benefits. Your membership in the Institute of the Americas helps underpin both the Institute and its public programming.

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We are thrilled to announce the addition of two new Advisory Council members:

Leslie Bassett completed a 35-year Foreign Service career in 2017. She has served on the City of San Diego’s International Affairs Board, and is currently a lecturer at the University of San Diego and Board President of the San Diego Diplomacy Council.

Former U.S. Diplomat

Zach Rabinor was seduced early on by Latin America’s vibrant cultures, towering peaks, thundering surf and intoxicating cuisine. As the Founder, President and CEO of award-winning travel company Journey Mexico, Zach oversees all aspects of the company’s operation and takes special interest and delight in the details of product development, marketing, and business development.

Founder & CEO, Journey Mexico

In the News:

IX Summit of the Americas: Creative Diplomacy for a Fractured World

What’s Behind American Decline: Domestic Dysfunction

Oportunidad de cooperación México-Estados Unidos

El Instituto de las Américas y la Universidad de California San Diego Organizan Foro Climático del Pacífico

Implementará CEE proyecto piloto para erradicar pobreza energética

Smart grids: the next step for energy in Latin America


La Jolla Conference

Sept 28-29, 2022

This September our hallmark La Jolla Conference resumes in person. The global energy sector is undergoing a major transformation, one confronting government and industry alike.  We have subtitled this year’s Conference “Debating the Future of Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The urgent need to reduce emissions while ensuring energy security is at the core of the debate.