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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.

Q2 – 2023

President’s Column

In April the United States hosted the first Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver, Colorado with an agenda to promote expanded regional cooperation across the Western Hemisphere.   The meeting was attended by over 4,000 subnational governmental leaders as well as representatives of government, civil society, business, academia, youth, culture and the arts, and indigenous and underrepresented groups.  At the Cities Summit, the Institute of the Americas  (IOA) played an active role.

 

In partnership with CAF-the Latin American Development Bank (CAF), IOA organized a panel discussion on e-mobility for public & private transport.  Just prior to the Summit, CAF and IOA also co-organized an e-mobility & sustainable transportation focused site visit of Latin American Mayors and transportation leaders to San Diego.

 

At the Cities Summit, CAF and IOA also formalized a strategic partnership with the signing of an MOU and with a focus on expanding our collaboration in the areas of energy transition and decarbonization, sustainable mobility, regional integration, the fight against climate change, sustainable urban development, trade and economic inclusion.

Features

IOA and CAF join forces to promote cooperation in the Americas

During the Cities Summit of the Americas, held in Denver in late April, CAF – Latin American Development Bank and the IOA signed a collaboration agreement to promote sustainable and green development in the Americas and encourage greater cooperation between the West Coast region of the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agreement will support projects that accelerate the energy transition and decarbonization, sustainable mobility, regional integration, the fight against climate change, sustainable urban development, trade and expanded economic inclusion.

IOA’s collaboration with CAF will include the support of joint research and publications, cross-border professional exchange courses, conferences and events.   Most recently, IOA and CAF partnered in organizing a panel discussion at the Cities Summit and pre-Summit site visit in San Diego.  Stay tuned!

IOA and CAF co-host an “E-Mobility in Public and Private Transport” panel at the Cities Summit of the Americas

At the Cities Summit of the Americas, IOA and CAF joined forces to organize a panel discussion on e-mobility in public and private transport.   The panel brought together municipal and subnational leaders, e-mobility experts and project developers from across the Americas including from the binational region of San Diego, CA/Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico; the State of California; Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; Denver, Colorado and San Jose, Costa Rica. Panelists examined e-mobility regulatory best practices and lessons learned related to market adoption, infrastructure, approaches to public and private financing and social equity.  The session was attended by over 100 subnational leaders interested in learning about emerging e-mobility trends and interested in implementing their own e-mobility initiatives over the coming years.

Latin American mayors and officials visit San Diego for an E-Mobility and Sustainable Transportation site tour

In advance of the Cities Summit of the Americas, IOA and CAF organized a two-day e-mobility and sustainable transportation focused site visit in San Diego, California. The site visit convened mayors and sub-national officials from various cities including Hermosillo, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; Salvador de Bahía and Sobral, Brazil; Pilar, Paraguay; and Flores, Uruguay.  Mayors and sub-national officials had the opportunity to meet and learn from sustainable transportation focused experts from the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, SANDAG, Port of San Diego, SDG&E, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), UC San Diego, Southwestern College, Pedal Ahead Electric Bike Program, and Circulate San Diego. The site visit featured a special presentation by San Diego County Board Chair Nora Vargas who, together with SANDAG senior management, highlighted many of the innovative sustainable transportation initiatives becoming undertaken across San Diego County.   A reception was also organized by San Diego and Baja California regional leaders co-hosted by the Burnham Center of Community Advancement.

The site visit provided Latin American subnational leaders with a better appreciation of the e-mobility related regulatory issues, challenges and lessons learned from across the state of California and, in particular, the San Diego region including approaches to addressing issues such as e-mobility social equity, and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) workforce development and vocational training. Watch videos and photo gallery

IOA partners with ICLEI USA and Resilient Cities Catalyst to lead the Department of State’s Cities Forward Initiative

Announced at the IX Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles by President Biden last June, the Cities Forward program is a peer-to-peer exchange, capacity building, and diplomatic engagement focused on implementing projects and solutions that solve critical urban issues ranging from sustainability to inclusion to climate resiliency.   IECLI together with Resilient Cities Catalyst and the Institute of the Americas were jointly selected to co-administer the Cities Forward program with their selection formally announced at the Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver on April 27th.

 

This municipality-focused program seeks to work with up to 12 cities from Latin America assisting in the development of sustainability action plans aimed to help catalyze future financing and investment in the areas of sustainable transportation, pollution control, strengthened climate resilience in the built environment, and improvements in the health and welfare of under-served communities in climate vulnerable regions of the Americas.  Selected cities will be paired with U.S. cities sharing similar sustainability goals and objectives.  An announcement of selected cities is expected in Fall 2023.

Programs

ENERGY & SUSTAINABILITY

The second quarter began with the Madrid Energy Conference, held in collaboration with IPD Latin America on April 18-20 in Spain.

As part of the preparations for the Madrid Energy Conference, we spoke to Panama’s Deputy Secretary of Energy, Rosilena Lindo, for a Curtain Raiser interview as well as Camilo Serrano of Atlas Renewable Energy. Our colleague John Padilla, Managing Director at IPD Latin America, our Madrid Energy Conference co-host, spoke to Jose Vicente Zapata of Holland & Knight.

In April, we hosted David Kovach, Director of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Policy and Diplomacy at the National Security Council at the White House, for a virtual Energy & Sustainability Steering Committee briefing and discussion. It was a timely and insightful conversation given that the IRA’s passage and now ongoing implementation have triggered a wide range of debate and discussion, particularly in terms of what the new landscape signifies for the US’s allies and trading partners.  

Spotlight Report: The Key Role of Seafarers in National Economies in a Net-Zero World

Seafarers and the maritime industry, in general, clearly play a vital role in national and global economies. And as the global economy continues to rebound from the Covid pandemic, the industry will grow. By 2050:

  • 32,500 new vessels will be needed;
  • 875,000 new jobs will be created;
  • 5,500 mt of goods will be moved.

Meanwhile, the shipping sector is actively seeking to reduce its environmental footprint. It needs to up those efforts significantly. The sector needs a zero-emissions business model that addresses the “function of travel demand, travel mode, transport technology, GHG intensity of fuels, and energy efficiency.” 

Brazil Energy & Sustainability Roundtable

 

 

This edition is being composed fresh off our Brazil Energy & Sustainability Roundtable in Rio de Janeiro organized in collaboration with the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI).

Our discussions featuring representatives from industry, government and the private sector assessed and debated the mosaic of the Brazilian energy sector and role as a key stakeholder for global energy security across a wide range of energy sources, as well as Nature Based Solutions for emissions reduction. Add to Brazil’s legacy low carbon electric matrix and prolific offshore oil and gas the potential for lithium, hydrogen, offshore and onshore wind, and the upside is clear. But doubts around legal and regulatory certainty remain as key energy legislation has yet to pass Congress since President Lula took office in January.

Further, Petrobras’ pivot to embrace energy transition is also in early stages and how and to what extent hydrogen, advanced biofuels and offshore wind become commercialized by the NOC remains to be seen. Nature-based solutions are Brazil’s greatest opportunity to take the lead in a more sustainable development model. Such way shall be paved with incentives for bioeconomy, industry decar-bonization, and environmentally responsible agribusiness not connected with deforestation.

In addition, Brazil still needs to improve technology for the forest-standing/low-carbon economy to equate it with the advanced technology the country already has for traditional land use. Most passionately debated was the need to further leverage the country’s immense talent for the workforce of the future, a workforce that more truly reflects Brazilian society in a more equitable way?

Summary report: Madrid Energy Conference

The annual Madrid Energy Conference was launched in 2019 with a clear objective: Foster cross-continental energy transition and investment discussions. Representatives from over 20 countries in the Americas and Europe, and more than 80 companies and institutions, met in Madrid this past April. Participants explored opportunities and challenges associated with hydrogen, natural gas, and how to balance energy security and climate change goals.

 

Throughout the event, speakers issued a resounding call to action—accelerate cooperation to support the energy transition and reliable, affordable energy solutions. We were also very fortunate to be joined by a group of graduate students from the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) (Daisy Alfaro, Ezra Kraus, Gordon M. Magne, Maykent Salazar, and Ana Zapata). Their efforts to summarize the panels form the basis of the report.

Webinar recording: Part III: Geothermal – Energy Systems of the Future

In early May, we hosted the third and final webinar as part of our series on “Geothermal in the Americas” in collaboration with the Geothermal Energy Advancement Association (GEAA).  The series concluded with a dive into where geothermal fits and its role in a world of decarbonization and electrification. Our dynamic panel featured Ann Robertson-Tait, President, GeothermEx; Floris Veeger, Managing Director, Geothermal, Sproule; and, Chris Sladen, Chair/Founding Members, Geothermal Energy Advancement Association.

They assessed not only geothermal energy but also the potential for heat and cooling uses, with interesting cases from Europe. Special thanks to our Non-Resident Fellow, Chris Sladen, for his thought leadership and efforts on this series. Watch recording

ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE (EC2)

As part of World Oceans Day, which we celebrate on June 8th of every year, we pause to reflect on the imperative importance of this immense body of water for life on our planet and the survival of the human species. With this in mind, the EC2 program worked on different fronts to bring our ocean’s health and biodiversity crisis front and center of our stakeholders’ agenda, from publishing science and opinion columns, to bringing actors together in a one-day forum to discuss what different sectors should be doing to protect our greatest climate regulator.

Webinar on the ecological footprint of the maritime industry – Recording

 

Last May, the EC2 program organized and co-hosted a 2-hour workshop on the ecological footprint of the maritime industry along with the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) and Cómo Vamos La Paz (CVLP). With more than 35 attendees from civil society and press members from Baja California Sur—from La Paz, Loreto, and Los Cabos—they learned about ship’s scrubbers

 

scrubbers and their impacts on marine ecosystems, as well as from emissions and atmospheric pollution, and the role of ports and the community in helping tackle these issues. You can watch the recording (in Spanish) here.

Fisheries and Tourism – The Value of Ecosystem Services in Bahía Magdalena, México

 

IOA’s Gulf of California Marine rogram (GCMP) has been collaborating with artisanal fishermen in Bahía Magdalena since 2012 and has compiled data to produce a comprehensive report on the importance of fishing and ecotourism activities for the economy of the region. Over the past 10-year period, we have monitored over 7,500 fishing trips and collected data on 85 target species. With an estimated 701,439 tons of seafood produced, these species generated about $38,919,777 pesos during that time (or about $2,278,662 USD). The assessment also found that for some fishermen and their families, tourism has become a complement to their income. For example, blue-water snorkeling with marlin alone generates an estimated $7,312,500 pesos (about $428,129 USD) each season, while whale-watching activities can bring in an estimated one million pesos to a permit holder each season. The full report will be available soon.

North America’s largest marine reserve does not harm industrial fishing

 

On May 31st, Science Advances released a groundbreaking study showcasing the vital role of fully protected marine areas, known as MPAs, in safeguarding biodiversity while ensuring the fishing industry and food security remain unaffected. The study presented scientific evidence based on the evaluation of Mexico’s Revillagigedo National Park’s impact on the industrial fishing sector. A collaborative effort between American and Mexican scientists, the research team found that five years after the park’s establishment, the fishing sector has not encountered economic losses.

Q&A with Catalina López-Sagástegui, co-author of study and Director of the Gulf of California Marine Program

Why is the Revillagigedo National Park important? The Revillagigedo archipelago has long been recognized as an ecologically important region. Offshore islands are characterized by their productivity and usually their pristine state. It is common to see large schools of sharks, manta rays, cetaceans like humpback whales and orcas, sea turtles and big schooling fish like tuna and jacks. Terrestrial biodiversity is equally diverse and unique in these islands. For the GCMP this has been a priority research area and whenever we get the opportunity to visit, we make sure to take advantage of it.  Read full Q&A

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Francisco Mora highlights challenges and opportunities for the U.S. as the Inter-American System

The Institute of the Americas was delighted to host U.S. Ambassador OAS Francisco O. Mora as part of our Distinguished Lecture Series.   In his speech, Amb. Mora emphasized on the threats to the Inter-American System due to the rise of populist leaders with autocratic.  He also noted that the growing influence of China and Russia in the region is impacting the cohesiveness of the original signers of the OAS’s Bogota Charter.  His keynote address was recorded by IOA’s media partner, UC-TV and can be viewed here

Upcoming Events

Argentina Energy Roundtable

August 22, 2023 | Buenos Aires

XXXII La Jolla Energy Conference

October 11-12 | La Jolla, California

Announcements

NEW NON-RESIDENT FELLOW | China-Latin America Relations

Thiago de Aragão CEO Arko International

TEAM MEMBER PROMOTION

Francesca Carrillo-Díaz New Director of Facilities Management & Assistant Director, Public Programs

IOA In The News

President Marcos Jr uses Shipping Summit to reiterate his directive to prepare seafarers for a decarbonised future

International Chamber of Shipping: June 30, 2023

BNDES e governo analisam subsídios para transição energética

Canal Energia: June 28, 2023

How Can Honduras Strengthen its Electricity System?

Latin America Advisor: June 23, 2023

Energy matters – What the tech!

ANZMEX: June 19, 2023

Contaminación de mares, otro factor que acelera el cambio climático; especialistas exigen reglas más duras para embarcaciones

Animal Político: June 15, 2023

Un día por los mares del mundo

El Universal: June 8, 2023

How Well Is Brazil Handling an Influx of Venezuelans?

Latin America Advisor: June 1, 2023

IOA, CAF Team for Green Future

San Diego Business Journal: May-June edition

Peces más grandes y mejor pesca en Revillagigedo: lo que ha dejado la mayor área marina protegida de México

El País: May 31, 2023

Large ocean sanctuaries do not impact regional fishing industries

Earth: May 31, 2023

Ven trampa del gobierno para cumplir meta de energía limpia

El Economista: May 25, 2023

Empresas con visión más allá de las utilidades

El Universal: May 11, 2023

What Will a New Chief Executive Bring to Ecopetrol?

Latin American Advisor: April 26, 2023

Llegan alcaldes de Latinoamérica a analizar movilidad en frontera San Diego-Tijuana

Telemundo : April 25, 2023

Ciudades verdes: ¿Es posible la utopía sostenible?

El Universal : April 25, 2023

Insight: Jeremy Martin – Latin America’s important role in the Global Energy Market

Latin Counsel : April 5, 2023