Advancing sustainable competitiveness in Latin America : WEF

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GAIN Chief Scientist Dr. Ian Noble talks about the GAIN Index at the World Economic Forum April 16-18 in Puerto Vallarta. 

Economic expansion is emerging strongly across Latin American countries where rising demands from an expanding middle class and increasing urbanization are challenging the public and private sectors to maintain sustainable growth.

April 16-18, Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN) Chief Scientist Dr. Ian Noble brought the GAIN Index to the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Puerto Vallarta, México, to illuminate adaptation progress throughout the region.

Decision makers at the event assessed what private sector entrepreneurship, capital investment and innovation opportunities exist to help Latin America tackle adaptation.

Jordy Herrera, Energy Secretary for Mexico, and Martin Senn, Group CEO, Zurich Insurance Group, made opening remarks.

“The private sector will play a central role in tackling adaptation challenges,” Dr. Noble said.  He also noted the leadership of many businesses in setting sustainability goals and in responding to the challenges added by climate change.

“Effort has mostly focused on the mitigation agenda through reductions of emissions – a public good, but also often useful for the bottom line through energy and materials savings,” Dr. Noble said. “But private sector must also look ahead at the adaptation challenge.”

Confronted with the reality of no global agreement, most experts have started to focus on immediate and urgent measures to build resilience, especially in developing nations.

GAIN strives to “measure what matters.” This means identifying solutions to raise the awareness about the urgency to adapt to population growth, urbanization and the effects of climate change. 

Adapting to climate change is a challenge for most businesses as they find the issues complex and appropriate information hard to access.  The GAIN Index (index.gain.org) was designed as a first step in helping the private sector become aware of the threats and opportunities arising from climate change both on a country-by-county and sector-by-sector basis and also as a tool for decision makers to prioritize investments in their countries. Scientists from around the world participated in an open consultation process to provide feedback.

“The next challenge is to assist the private sector in accessing more detailed information relevant to their particular activities and to provide guidance as to how to go about assessing risks and opportunities,” Dr. Noble said.

As an example, the WEF on Latin America host country, México, ranks 60 in the GAIN Index in comparison to other countries in its readiness and vulnerability to adapt to climate change. It shows a positive adaptation trend based on data compiled during the past 15 years. In comparison to other Latin American countries, México is in the top half of countries prepared to deal with climate change (readiness) and the top half of countries with the least vulnerability. This means that adaptation challenges still exist, but that countries such as México – those in the lower, right quadrant of the Readiness Matrix (see México graph) – require the least amount of help in adapting to climate change, urbanization and population growth.


Mexico Readiness Matrix

GAIN will consider these matters at its Annual Meeting & Scientific Convening in May with a forum of business and climate leaders.

WEF on Latin America also focused on the private sector in upcoming major global meetings including Rio+20, the UNFCCC negotiations and the G20. All recognized the need for effective public-private partnerships, but there was a level of frustration that the private sector was not able to establish a stronger and more permanent place at the various negotiating tables.  

World Economic Forum on Latin America 2012

Jeffrey Joerres, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ManpowerGroup, USA seated with Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2012, Martin Senn, Group Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Group, Switzerland. (courtesy WEF, Creative Commons)