Latin America is calling for its position at the UN Food Systems Summit in September-October 2021. At the preliminary meeting in Rome, the Ministers of Agriculture of Latin America and the Caribbean endorsed a common position prepared by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) 1. It is the result of a gigantic effort to demonstrate the region’s commitment to the principles and objectives of sustainable development through 5 central themes:
- Guarantee sufficient, nutritious and safe food to achieve Zero Hunger
- Transition to healthy and sustainable consumption habits
- Boost large-scale nature-positive production
- Eliminate poverty and generate income and employment
- Build resilience to vulnerabilities such as pandemics and natural disasters
After all, we are addressing the problem to 800 million hungry world citizens and more than 1.7 billion obese people out of a population of 7.8 billion.
To the 5 challenges mentioned above, LAC presents itself as a builder of solutions and not as a focus of problems. From food importer in 1970 to the world’s largest exporter in 2021, due to the gigantic agricultural revolution in productivity and sustainability, applying technologies, innovations and social inclusion.
Productivity indices improved exponentially, without necessarily increasing the productive land in these proportions, using new knowledge and sustainable technological applications through research and development in the area of genetics, biochemistry and knowledge of biomes and climate.
Agroindustry, in its extension from production to the consumer’s table, working from the beginning to the consumer in the protection of critical ecosystems, maintaining diversity, protecting water and land, reducing waste and using sustainable energy. LAC today presents itself as an agro-energy-mineral power in the world.
In addition to food, it offers the most sustainable energy matrix. In the transformation of its products, the electrical energy used in various regions offers more than two-thirds of sustainable energy, used in food, animal and vegetable products. The decarbonization implicit in the large-scale process occurs today not only in agro-industrial areas, it offers the world a unique opportunity to take advantage of this attribute, still unknown to many.
More than 50% of the world’s GDP is currently produced in services, and the digitization and electrification of mobility will increase the consumption of electricity per capita.
LAC’s experience in poverty reduction has proven effective in applying minimum income systems to high-risk populations, promoting local economies, reducing dependence on harmful subsidy policies, and reducing corruption. In the pandemic, LAC presented indicators that reduced the impact on poverty due to the strong and immediate reaction of many governments to reduce local hunger, even negatively increasing their public debt.
It is perhaps the first time in the history of Latin America that unanimity has been achieved on issues as complex and sensitive as the contribution to the fight against hunger and in favor of healthy and sustainable food worldwide. As citizens of the world, LAC is, beyond all its difficulties, much more part of the solution than of the problems.
In October 2021, we will have the World BioEconomic Forum, held for the first time outside the European axis, in Belém do Pará, in the center of the Amazon biome. A great opportunity for Latin America to show its route from the fossil economy to the BioEconomy, including, in addition to the agenda of products of plant and animal origin, the water economy, the circular economy and bioenergy. The largest reserves of native forest, fresh water and diversity are found in Latin America and it is a privilege to carry out this event in our continent.
The most sensitive and thorny topic will be COP26 in Glasgow on global climate change in November. The world, after the failure of Kyoto, an inconclusive Paris Agreement, seeks a common effort to reach a consensus on reducing the temperature increase to a maximum of 1.5 ° C by 2050. Latin America has solid positions to contribute. Even in the pandemic, the agendas of Latin American societies are in a heated debate about their contributions. But something crystallizes, like:
- The goal for 2050 is too far away! Latin America will be completely carbon neutral before this date. We must not delegate this responsibility to two generations if we can bring this date forward! Mainly Europe, USA, Japan and China must pursue more ambitious goals and anticipate them before 2050!
- The most relevant source of emissions resides in the consumption of energy and raw materials consumed. If all the inhabitants of the planet had the habits of the North Americans we would need 5 planets, and the Europeans 3, which we do not have! LAC has one of the most sustainable matrices in power generation, and although it does not have the best GDP per capita indices, it needs to seek social and economic sustainability to strengthen its performance in the environmental area. ESGs and other support vehicles must also focus on social and managerial issues.
- Chapter 6, on the modalities of the carbon market, which will be the focus of the discussions, in the description of the Paris Rolebook, is disappointing because of the principles mentioned so far. We make the same mistakes that led to the failure of Kyoto. Placing the principle of voluntariness as an eligibility criterion for carbon credits means that countries whose societies have adopted strict laws to promote sustainability are punished and those who have not done their homework are rewarded! Latin America will not be able to accept this again.
The non-tropical northern hemisphere focuses on environmental liabilities, which affect the increase in the planet’s temperature (greenhouse gases, for example), but does not consider environmental assets that reduce temperature such as photosynthesis (endothermic process) of forests and perennial agriculture in preserved and productive environments. And, therefore, the agenda once again has a European predominance of imposing its “Green Deal” on others, through autonomous initiatives, such as the regulation of the decarbonization of global production chains, placing the responsibility of achieving your overall goals.
The effect for Europe will be reversed in the long term as it will find in other blocs and countries similar actions of non-harmonized principles, leading the world to have local and not global environmental barriers. Certainly, if in this game Latin America manages to put the minimum agenda of its potentials in its favor, it will establish in its territory the largest market for social and environmental certificates, reverting liabilities into assets.
Today the stock exchanges of the region are showing their possibilities and if Europe does not understand, Latin America and the U.S. will form a different market for negotiable ESG certificates, among others.
We must not forget that the largest fiduciary agents are the financial institutions that operate in all the countries of the continent and the world. More business will be done where the barriers will be lower. This does not mean an incentive to become lax in control, on the contrary, governance with the best principles will be affirmed, through transparency and compliance, but it will not follow criteria that go beyond logic and the market.
We need to speed up actions, not wait for 2050, and do what is really necessary, being fair, more altruistic and reducing the enormous differences between us, in favor of those who are hungry, and putting resources where we can really expect significant changes in favor of the Humanity and the Planet, reducing privileges and unhealthy styles.