Due in part to climate change, the extreme weather events we’ve experienced across the Americas this past year (which may have once been considered historically atypical) are now becoming a regular occurrence. The impacts have ranged from a mega drought across the U.S. Southwest and Mexico; historic flood conditions in the U.S Southeast; and wildfires along Argentina’s Parana River waterway as well as the recent hurricanes impacting coastal residents from as far north as Canada’s Atlantic Provinces to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Q1 – 2023
President & CEO’s Column
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, the geo-political fault lines continue to have ripple effects across the Americas. Besides the irreparable harm inflicted on the lives of millions of Ukrainians and their homeland, the on-going war has resulted in a growing number migrating to the U.S. through our southern border with Mexico. Additionally, global commodity markets have been destabilized, in particular for basic food commodities like grains as well as oil and natural gas.
Last month, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion with 141 countries calling for the immediate withdrawal of their military forces from Ukraine. The resolution also highlighted the need for Russia to be held accountable for war crimes. While Nicaragua’s vote against the resolution was predictable, there were 32 other countries that abstained from voting including China as well as three countries in our Hemisphere, notably Bolivia, Cuba and El Salvador.
ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY
We began 2023 with our traditional start-of-the-year compilation of essays prepared by our Non-Resident Fellows. The 2023 Energy Landscape and Outlook report sets forth a high-level overview and insights.
January also featured a new chapter and avenue of engagement with our neighbors at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy (GPS). In a virtual meeting with our Non-Resident Fellows and several GPS graduate students, we convened a discussion around the future of the energy sector not just in Latin America, but globally. We are also pleased to count on having five GPS students with us in Madrid to attend and serve as rapporteurs for the conference and report.
2023 Energy Outlook Report
The holidays offer a unique time to disconnect from the daily grind. Our roster of Non-Resident Fellows prepared short essays and a high-level overview and insights based upon two principal organizing themes: things I did not expect in 2022, and things I do expect in 2023, in the world of energy. The perspectives from thought leaders based across the Western Hemisphere and in the UK, considered the long tail of COVID, inflation, China, supply chains, but especially the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how it has roiled already temperamental energy markets and reaffirmed the importance of energy security.
Testing Resiliency – Latin America and the Caribbean Energy Outlook
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resiliency of Latin America and the Caribbean has been on display. The dramatic health and safety issues compounded ongoing economic and political challenges translating to volatility and upheaval in the energy sector.
But the region has emerged with positive signs in the upstream in major markets and increased focus on hydrogen and decarbonization efforts in select countries. The webinar offered a wide-ranging discussion of the region and key evolving trends, including natural gas, CCS and geothermal. Debate over whether the region was more apt to fragment or reinvigorate integration brought nuanced answers.
Curtain Raiser Interview with Panama’s Deputy Secretary of Energy, Rosilena Lindo
This year’s Madrid Energy Conference will delve into what is known as the energy trilemma – affordability, reliability and sustainability, with the implicit imperative of inclusion. Cutting across many of the topics and panels is the question of the opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean in the new industrial revolution, with increased deployment of renewables, hydrogen and sustainable fuels as principal components.
To kick off the debate and discussion on these topics we spoke to Panama’s Deputy Secretary of Energy, Rosilena Lindo for our first MadridEnergy2023 Curtain Raiser interview.
ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE (EC2)
This year started with big wins for biodiversity and oceans, as the world signed on March 4th the first United Nations High Seas Treaty, after 20 years of negotiations, in which 193 nations agreed to put in place a legal framework for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of biodiversity and share the genetic resources of the deep seas. We can expect this development to help advance in important ways the agreement reached in late 2022 during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in which the world agreed to protect and conserve 30% of land and oceans by 2030.
Along these lines, in early March, Panama hosted the 8th Our Oceans Conference (OOC) with the theme Our Ocean, Our Connection. Started by the U.S. Department of State and sustained by a growing community of international hosts and global commitments to action, the OOC brings together governments and non-state actors to make concrete commitments to protect ocean health and security. This edition brought along 341 commitments on MPAs, climate change, security, sustainable fisheries, and marine pollution, backed by almost 20 billion USD in funding.
The Institute of the Americas’ Environment and Climate Change Director Tania Miranda participated at an OOC panel hosted by the Charles Darwin Foundation, where she talked about shipping pollution through incidental discharges and their tight connection to biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, biosecurity threats, and climate change.
Continuing with the biodiversity theme, the EC2 program published a report in late February, co-authored by non-resident fellow Soffia Alarcón, analyzing the importance and the future path of biodiversity risk assessment and disclosures by the private sector. A World Economic Forum report found that nature-positive solutions will create US$10.1 trillion in business opportunities and 395 million jobs through key sector transitions. However, challenges for businesses to assess and disclose nature-related risks are significant and require time and capacity building. This brief report touches upon the basics of how this can look like moving forward.
Lastly, as businesses move to seize the opportunities stemming from the net-zero wave, specifically those from sustainable supply chains and the energy transition, we co-hosted a webinar with BBA Deals entitled “ESG as an investment driver in North America”. It featured Evan Van Hook, Chief Sustainability Officer at Honeywell; Claudia de la Vega, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Walmart Mexico and Central America, and Gabriel Bustamante, Senior Partner at Bustamante + Freyre.
What transpired from our conversation was, most importantly, that the transition to a decarbonized economy is creating new opportunities for businesses, for instance by investing in R&D, and selling new technology and products that help with the transition. And even though governments have for decades been behind in the ESG space, they are starting to catch up and regulations and initiatives such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, and the recently released Sustainable Taxonomy in Mexico, will certainly incentivize more investments in sustainable and environmental projects in the region. Watch recording
The Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP)
completed data analysis for the annual Rocky Reef monitoring program, adding to the 22 years of data allowing scientists to track the health of these ecosystems in the Gulf of California. The latest results show that, while some reefs communities remain stable with healthy biomass levels, others are showing signs of stress. In collaboration with dataMares, we developed a website where everyone can learn about the research and access the data generated by scientists.
USMCA Deputies Meeting held at IOA
On January 25-26, the U.S. Trade Representative Office served as host of the 2nd USMCA Deputies Meeting at the Institute of the Americas in La Jolla where trade negotiators from the US, Mexico and Canada met to discuss plans towards fostering expanded economic competitiveness and also highlighted the need to upskill the workforce in our three countries. A joint statement was issued at the conclusion of the meeting. (See version in Spanish). Additional bilateral meetings were held at IOA between the US-Canada, the US & Mexico, and Canada and Mexico.
As a compliment to the Deputies Meeting, IOA hosted a reception for trade negotiators with representatives of the trade community in Southern California. The reception was made possible thanks to the generous support of SENTRE and the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and in collaboration with the District Export Councils for both San Diego & Imperial and Inland Empire.
Since 2005, the NAF has sought to bring together its members to explore the interactions among the mutually reinforcing goals of security, prosperity and enhanced quality of life for Canada, Mexico and the United States. In 2022, IOA and the UC San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy assumed the role as the U.S. Coordinators for the NAF.
Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and an IOA board member assumed the role as U.S. NAF Chairman. The NAF’s 2022 La Jolla meeting was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Alumbra Innovations Foundation, Sempra and the Burnham Foundation.
U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Francisco Mora highlights Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S as the Inter-American System”
On March 7, the Institute of the Americas was honored to welcome U.S. Ambassador OAS Francisco O. Mora as the first speaker of our 2023 Distinguished Lecture Series. A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere under the Obama Administration (2009–2013) and more recently a Professor and Research Director of Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, Mora was confirmed as OAS Ambassador by the U.S. State in late December and formally presented his credentials at the OAS on January 18th.
During his remarks, Amb. Mora highlighted that the OAS, “continues to demonstrate its relevance and commitment to its core values of as set forth in its key documents and instruments, such as the OAS Charter, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, Declaration on Security in the Americas, and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. He also observed, that “the OAS has a unique role. and mandate in the Americas for promoting a hemispheric commitment to these values.” That said, he also highlighted some of the challenges faced as some countries in region have begun pushing back against some of the core principles of the OAS’s original Bogota Charter. Read more
Madrid Energy Conference
April 18-20, 2023 | Madrid, Spain
Geothermal Part III – Energy Systems of the Future
May 5, 2023 | Virtual
Brazil Energy & Sustainability Roundtable
June 27-28, 2023 | Rio de Janeiro
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
NEW ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBER
NEW EC2 NON-RESIDENT FELLOW
IOA In The News
China Influence Growing in Latin America; California Maintains Strong Trade Presence
Alert by CalCham: March 17, 2023
La “invisible” contaminación del tráfico marino
El Universal: March 2, 2023
Venezuela’s Oil Industry, Reopening to Investors, Is Major Polluter
Wall Street Journal: February 22, 2023
Las lecciones de la vaquita marina y la totoaba
El Universal: February 16, 2023
US-Mexico Natural Gas and LNG Collaboration
The Wilson Quarterly: February 3, 2023
10 voces en la Semana de la Energía
IDB: January 23, 2023
¿Pico del petróleo?
El Heradol de México: January 17, 2023
Joe Biden en México: IP ‘urge’ a AMLO resolver diferencias del T-MEC
El Financiero: January 9, 2023
Energy matters – Out of shape?
Anzmex: January 2, 2023