The eighth annual Americas Society and Council of the Americas Lima conference (AS/COA,) in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, has brought about new issues concerning clean water in Latin America. According to the Council of the Americas Society, Peruvian access to clean water is now one of the main issues for the Council of the Americas conference. Peru is known to have some of the largest fresh water reserves in the world. However, the freshwater in Peru is not potable. In order to address this issue, leaders at the Council of the Americas hope to find an innovative way to bring the people of Peru clean, drinkable water. According to the AS/COA, the conference will take place November 8. The conference “will examine the challenges and outlook of water management in Peru and how they will affect economic growth, social inclusion, and competitiveness.”

While Peru accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s annual renewable water resources, the coastal area of Peru—which hosts about two-thirds of its population—receives less than 2 percent of the national freshwater resources. In addition, Lima- the nation’s capital-is the second most populated desert city in the world. Here, “water management affects the operation of cities, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and public health.” As a result, the Peruvian public sector, and Peruvian companies, must strive to “develop innovative strategies and technologies to address this pressing issue.”

In this conference, various notable figures will be present. According to the AS/COA, business leaders, government officials, economists, and experts in water management will lead the conference. Some include:

–        Eda Rivas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru

–        René Cornejo, Minister of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation of Peru

–        José Giancarlo Gasha Tamashiro, Vice Minister of Economy and Finance of Peru

–        Erich Arispe, Director, Sovereign Group, Fitch Ratings

–        Anders Berntell, Executive Director of the 2030 Water Resources Group

–        José Carrera, Corporate Vice President of Social Development, CAF

–         Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Livable Cities, Ministry of National Development, Singapore

–        Todd Gartner, Senior Associate, Conservation Incentives & Markets, World Resources Institute

–        Luis Montoya, President, Latin America Beverages, PepsiCo, Inc.

–        Gabriel Quijandria, Vice Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources of Peru

–        Luis Rivases, Vice President, Andean Region Debt Capital Markets, Citigroup

–        Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

–        Julia Torreblanca, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde SAA

–        Gonzalo Zegarra, Director, Semana Económica

For more information on the meeting, please visit

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: Americas Society, Americas Society, Americas Society
Photo: Flickr

According to a recent report presented to the UN General Assembly by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, Latin America is leading the way in the establishment of laws related to promotion and protection of the right to food. De Schutter praised the region for its remarkable progress over the past 10 years.

Most recently, in January 2013, Mexico established the National Crusade Against Hunger to solve Mexico’s food insecurity issues. In fact, 25 percent of the Mexican population is dealing with food insecurity, in a country where more than seven million live in conditions of extreme poverty. Other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Guatemala are creating similar initiatives to tackle hunger in their own countries.

According to De Schutter report, the right to food is not solely about hunger as an issue of supply and demand, but also as a problem of the limited access to resources such as land, water and seeds for small-scale farmers, not to mention a lack of economic opportunities for the poor and a failure to provide living wages and social security.

In an article by The Guardian, De Schutter said that “treating food as a human right brings coherence and accountability. It helps to close the gaps by putting food security of all citizens at the top of the decision-making hierarchy, and making these decision-making processes participatory and accountable.”

Besides food policy, there are other issues that affect countries’ abilities to attain the right to food. For example, capital flight weakens states’ capacities to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs). States need capital to invest in their agricultural industry and decrease poverty in both rural and urban areas. Additionally, a country’s failure to implement taxation greatly affects the government’s capability to provide for its citizens in many ways, including the provision of food.

With these issues in mind, De Schutter’s report makes it clear that progress in attaining the right to food comes hand in hand with a developing country’s government’s commitment, involvement in civil society, and coordinated initiatives in the realms of education, gender, sanitation, foreign direct investment, and economic development. For instance, countries such as Brazil, whose government was fully committed to the implementation of its “zero hunger policy,” succeeded in improving the right to food with a structure of good governance.

Another common characteristic that De Schutter pointed to was the importance of human rights institutions and civil society in monitoring government’s accountability to promises of decreasing hunger levels in their country.

In the Guardian article, De Schutter was quoted as saying, “The poor may experience considerable difficulties in accessing judicial redress mechanisms, which is why social audits matter. The role of other actors, national human rights institutions and civil society, is therefore essential.”

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: The Guardian1,The Guardian2,The Hunger Project
Photo: San Diego Red

IDB Inter American Development Bank Project Central America Caribbean
Many have heard of the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the two major financial institutions when talking about development. However, there is a bank that exists to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty and inequality specifically in Latin America and the Caribbean–the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Established in 1959, the IDB is the leading source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Bank originally started as a partnership between 19 countries in Latin America and the United States. However, over the next few decades the Bank’s membership grew throughout the Western Hemisphere and later outside of the region and now includes a total of 48 member countries.

The Bank is headed by the Board of Governors, which is made up of one representative for each member country. The Board of Governors is the Bank’s organizational body that votes and implements the major policy decisions. Each member country’s voting power in the IDB’s Board of Governors is determined by the amount of capital that it provides the Bank. The Bank also consists of a Board of Executive Directors, which takes care of loan approvals, administrative budget, as well as other financial matters.

Out of the 48 countries that call themselves members of the IDB, 26 are located in Latin America and the Caribbean and are “borrowing members.” Together, these 26 members hold 50.02 percent of the vote. The other 22 members are non-borrowing members, such as the United States, Canada, and China. They too have significant voting power in the Bank’s Board of Governors. For instance, the United States alone holds 30.01 percent of the vote. Using their relationship with the Bank, these non-borrowing members are able to reach a greater number of beneficiary countries and promote trade and investment opportunities to Latin American and Caribbean countries by financing IDB development projects.

In order to eradicate poverty and inequality, while sponsoring sustainable economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Bank funds development projects headed by clients such as national governments, public institutions, as well as NGOs and the private sector. Not only does the bank provide loans and grants, but it also offers technical assistance to its clients in order to address the needs of the more vulnerable countries in the region.

Using its “Country Strategies” portfolios, the IDB works with borrowing members to direct specific attention to particular needs of the different countries that it helps, giving it a more personal approach to development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Bank also boasts a “Sector Strategies” approach where it identifies sectors, such as “protection of the environment” or “response to climate change,” and generally analyzes the best ways to achieve these goals in the region. Other areas which the Bank emphasizes are regional cooperation and integration, and food security.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: IDB, Latin Times
Photo: Tico Times

Yes, donkeys.

Largely neglected from mainstream discourse, donkeys have been sorely underrated as significant contributors to the process of development. There are currently about 44 million donkeys across the world, with half in Asia, about a quarter in Africa and the rest mainly in Latin America. Within these countries, donkeys are most often used for transport and agriculture, yet their social and economic benefits frequently go without recognition.

The donkey is a multi-purpose animal, able to carry out a wide variety of tasks under very limited circumstances. Donkeys are fast learners, surprisingly strong (they can carry loads about half their body weight), resistant to many diseases, have a long working life, require little water, and are easy to manage. Most importantly to many animal owners in developing countries, donkeys are much cheaper to purchase than oxen, horses and other animals used for working purposes. Further, donkeys are able to withstand heat and dry conditions, but find difficulty with cold and wet climates, making clear their relevance to developing nations.

While traditional agricultural practices in the global South have changed considerably as a result of modernization and globalization, donkeys still play a central role in providing for the livelihoods of many small-scale farmers. Their roles differ from country to country and farm to farm, but in general, donkeys help increase farmers’ productive potential and positively contribute to their well-being.

In addition, there has been growing global awareness of the role of donkeys in changing gender power relations. Women have experienced increasing access to ownership of donkeys, which they often use to fulfill household needs that are otherwise more difficult to accomplish. Since women are able to contribute more to the family unit, they are experiencing increasing status within traditional family structures. Read: donkeys are helping to empower women.

Yet despite the donkey’s vital economic importance to people in developing nations, these animals are still looked upon as indicators of backwardness and underdevelopment. This devaluation of donkeys by the process of modernization has sorely limited the donkey’s potential, all in the name of keeping up to date in a globalized world. Will the day of the donkey ever come?

– Tara Young

Sources: Animal Traction, Agricultures Network
Photo: Kiva Fellows

Poorest Region in Latin America
Latin America has made great strides in its efforts to reduce extreme poverty. Since 2000, poverty levels have been cut in half and in 2011 the middle class surpassed the amount of the impoverished for the first time. However, Central America and Mexico seem to be falling behind.

It’s estimated that Central America and Mexico have the most people living in extreme poverty, an average of 16 percent, and have the smallest number of people in middle class per capita.

There are many reasons why these countries remain the poorest and struggle to catch up with the rest of the Latin American countries. Issues include:

  • Drug Trafficking: Drug trafficking has plagued the region with violence and corruption making it extremely difficult to allow for further growth and stability. The fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world only serves to accentuate this issue.
  • Government Rivalries: From shores to waterways, El Salvador and Honduras argue over property rights constantly. Guatemala and Belize cannot come to an agreement on border control. Also, many countries are angry that Honduras and Guatemala receive more foreign aid than the others.
  • Security and Trust: National security seems to be an issue for every country, including the United States. As drug consumption and trafficking are at an all time high, the Central American governments feel that the United States should be taking on more responsibility in fighting the drug cartels. Also, countries are not cooperating well due to lack of trust and corruption. An idea arose to create a database to control and track drug cartels, but the lack of trust among officials rendered it inoperable because they could not find people to run the program.

Central America needs to resolve its issues if the region wants to create and maintain economic growth and stability. It is important that the region strives to strengthen the economy, give youths hope for education, and provide opportunities to prevent them from engaging in drug trading. Also, each country must facilitate trade agreements and have better communication with one another. These changes could inevitably translate into more jobs and investments for each state.

Taylor Schaefer

Sources: Huffington Post, Tico Times

Pro Mujer International is a development and microfinance organization helping women in Latin America. They provide financial, health, and human development services to help women break the cycle of poverty. Pro Mujer equips women with the tools and resources necessary to build their own livelihoods through microfinance, business training, and health care support.

Pro Mujer is motivated to affect change in Latin American society. They understand the conditions of income disparity and gender inequality. They believe that when women are given the tools to lift themselves out of poverty, they will also lift their families too. According to Pro Mujer, women are more likely to reinvest in their families to provide education, healthcare and to improve living conditions.

The organization is committed to a client-focused approach that actively seeks results. They strive for integrity, transparency, solidarity and they work to maintain commitment to human development. Pro Mujer was founded by Lynne Patterson and Carmen Velasco in 1990 in Bolivia. Their vision for an organization to help lift women from poverty has today become one of Latin America’s premiere development and microfinance organizations for women. Pro Mujer has since been able to allocate over $1 billion in small loans and services including empowerment training, preventive health education and primary healthcare services.

Examples of the financial services provided by Pro Mujer include small business loans, education and housing loans, savings accounts, and life insurance. Their business and empowerment training programs teach women to be more economically independent and informed decision makers as well as teaching basic financial literacy, and empowerment training on domestic violence, communication and leadership skills. Additionally, Pro Mujer is able to provide healthcare assistance including pre and post natal monitoring, family planning, and sexual and reproductive health services to name a few.

Pro Mujer’s current CEO is Rosario Perez. Perez began her career in private banking where she was charged with leading multinational businesses and teams and executing organizational transformations. She is now responsible for Pro Mujer’s portfolio of more than US $100 million and 1,700 employees. Her employees serve more than 2,547,000 clients in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.

– Caitlin Zusy

Sources: Pro Mujer, Mastercard Worldwide

The New Stars of Emerging Markets
As the economy continues to expand, the stories of economic growth and development are shifting.  The new stars of emerging markets are beginning to rise and take the spotlight in the story of development.  Over the past decade, the most well-known stories of rising nations within emerging markets have been that of BRIC nations-Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Reporting double-digit growth numbers over the past several years has catapulted them to the top of the emerging markets.  However, their growth is starting to level off and has fallen back into single digits.  They are more stable and sustainable in their growth and have paved the way for new stars to take the spotlight.

Head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investments Ruchir Sharma believes the BRIC nations are beginning a period of slow-down and their slower growth will leave room for other nations to take center stage.  The stories of the BRIC nations are remarkable. China’s double-digit growth has turned the nation into a sustainable nation with a growing middle class.  This is a huge step in overall country development. The creation of a middle class provides additional opportunities for advancement and brings in outside investors to the nation who are interested in the increasing consumer spending capacity.

Who are the new stars?  Sharma says the nations to watch for are the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as parts of Latin America such as Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Political leaders in these countries are stable and have a strong understanding of economic reform. These nations have great potential to be the new emerging markets and double-digit growth-producing countries.

The Philippines is one of the most cost-competitive destinations of technology and business service centers. While India used to dominate the call-center world, the Philippines is fast becoming a strong competitor.  Indonesia has a strong commodity business to build economic strength and Thailand’s manufacturing sector continues to expand.

Beyond the potential new stars of emerging markets are several economies that have the ability to follow behind in the coming years. Nations like  Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are beginning steps towards economic reform. According to Sharma, the winners of one decade are rarely winners in the next, but the emerging markets continue to be a strong factor in the global economy and a strong place for foreign investment. It will be a fascinating story to watch as the decade unfolds.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Avid Investor Group

USAID and Syngenta Sign Collaborative Agreement
To continue to advance U.S. efforts to fight hunger, USAID has signed an agreement with global company Syngenta International AG. The agreement will seek to increase food security and reduce hunger in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  The agreement will go to support farmers.  According to USAID, each night, around 870 million people around the world go to bed hungry and Syngenta is joining the fight to reduce those numbers.  Their partnership in the fight will help to increase the adoption of innovative technologies and create mechanisms for crop insurance.

The USAID and Syngenta agreement will allow both groups to reach the impoverished and malnourished across three different continents in joint efforts to end global poverty.  USAID and Syngenta will work together in research and development and capacity building. They will work together and with scientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other donors. This commitment advances the goals set by Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

As previously announced, Syngenta will invest over $500 million in Africa alone to help farmers adopt new technology to increase their yields. With 27,000 employees in 90 countries, Syngenta is truly a global company that is making a global impact. Part of their mission is to bring plant potential to life through science while protecting the environment and improving health and quality of life. Syngenta hopes to ignite change in farm productivity worldwide through the partnership.

Feed the Future is part of this global effort and supports countries as they develop their own agriculture sectors to increase economic growth and trade. In 2012, more than 7 million food producers were helped through Feed the Future. The USAID and Syngenta partnership will continue to grow agricultural development and promote the goals of Feed the Future.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: allAfrica
Photo: USAID

U.S. Solar Company Expands International Development to Latin America
SolarReserve, a U.S.-based solar company, has announced its expansion into Latin America for international development purposes. The company opened up an additional office in Santiago, Chile, as part of an effort to “provide cost-effective, clean energy solutions worldwide.”

SolarReserve plans to focus primarily on solar energy opportunities in the growing mining sector throughout the region, and will also be developing large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) projects, as well as photovoltaic projects.

Company CEO, Kevin Smith, stated that the move to Latin America was a logical next step considering the benefits of clean energy development in the region, including the abundant solar insulation, inclusionary energy policies, and the expanding mining sector. He also said that although hydropower and wind power are already established sources of clean energy in Latin America, solar is only more recently gaining a foothold.

Smith also stated that SolarReserve hopes the installation of solar energy will help provide a more consistent and reliable energy source to the region, along with a cleaner source of power from an environmental standpoint.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Power Engineering

Colon Misses Out on Panama's Economic Growth
The Panama Canal is framed by Panama’s two largest cities. At one end is Panama City, a vibrant, bustling metropolitan center that is currently experiencing some of Latin America’s greatest growth. At the Canal’s other end, just forty miles away, lies the city of Colon, where potable water, electricity, structurally sound buildings, and meaningful work are all in short supply for the city’s 220,000 residents.

Panama has had an average economic growth of nine percent every year for the last five years. This is due in large part to foreign investment and development in Panama City, where Central America’s first subway is currently under construction. The tallest building in Latin America, a 70-story Trump hotel and condominium, is not out of place among newly constructed skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants.

But Colon has not enjoyed the same booming industrial and commercial development. The city has the largest duty-free trade zone in the Western hemisphere, which has long been a point of contention between residents and developers. Recent development within the zone has benefited businesses there, but not the city at large. The duty-free zone caused social unrest last year when Panama’s president passed a law allowing sale of land in and near the zone. Residents feared this would displace them from their homes and hurt their incomes. Several were killed in the protests.

The economic inequality between Colon and Panama City stems in part from racial segregation and discrimination. Racism is a long-standing problem in many Latin American countries, and Panama is no exception. Those with light skin are often viewed more favorably than those with dark skin in terms of wealth, attractiveness, and ability.

Colon is predominantly black, while Panama City has a larger percentage of European descendants. Many believe that racial discrimination has played a role in Colon’s economic depression.

The stark disparity between Panama City and Colon is an example of the unequal economic growth occurring all over the world. In many places, wealth remains concentrated where it is already abundant, while the poor remain poor, and grow poorer. Correcting this imbalance will require a multifaceted, in-depth, strategic approach that the world’s poor are unable to implement themselves. Therefore, those who have the means to do so are responsible for working to make humane living conditions and economic security realities for every person on the planet.

Kat Henrichs

Source: NY Times
Photo: AP