As preparations intensify for the Third Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, the Energy Working Group of the Americas Business Dialogue offers a private sector perspective on the opportunities for the region’s energy development.
The Americas Business Dialogue (ABD)—a private sector-driven initiative facilitated by the Inter-American Development Bank—seeks to foster a high-level, public-private policy dialogue among business and government leaders on priorities, challenges, and opportunities for economic growth and development. Some of the most important business associations in every country in the region actively participate in the ABD, along with leading companies from various sectors of the economy.
At the last Summit of the Americas (Panama, 2015), the ABD presented the heads of state and government with a series of recommendations and public-private partnership proposals to improve infrastructure and strengthen trade; facilitate financial resources to spur growth and development; stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship and develop our human capital; and maximize the potential of the region’s energy and natural resources.
Within the ABD, the Energy Working Group aims to promote interaction between the public and private sectors to capitalize on the region’s energy potential, improve competitiveness, promote integration, and strengthen economic development. To that end, the Working Group has established four energy priorities:
- Harnessing the potential of renewable energy
While Latin America has one of the world’s highest rates of renewable energy consumption, that region and the Caribbean can do much more to harness the full potential of renewable energy sources. The benefits of renewable energy are numerous, and include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting countries from fuel price volatility, and decreasing the pressure on the balance of payments for countries that rely primarily on energy imports.
- Spreading the benefits of energy abundance across the region
Despite the region’s wealth of natural resources, some countries face energy deficits and must rely on expensive, less environmentally friendly sources of energy. Having greater access to cleaner, more affordable energy would translate into lower costs for businesses and consumers, spur economic growth, and ameliorate socioeconomic problems.
To get energy to the countries that need it most, one major challenge will be how to create the necessary infrastructure, encourage energy integration, and develop viable energy markets that can bridge the energy gap.
- Utilizing technology to promote energy efficiency
Energy efficiency has an essential role to play, as it can help make businesses more productive and competitive, generate more employment, increase the reliability of the energy sector, and mitigate the effects of climate change. It is cheaper to save a unit of energy than it is to produce it, and in Latin America and the Caribbean the opportunities for energy savings are significant.
- Sharing best practices
There is a plethora of energy knowledge and experience that can and should be shared regionally. Having a regional mechanism that formalizes the sharing of best practices and technical capability for various energy sectors, for example, would allow all countries (energy producers and consumers) to have access to the most advanced thinking related to energy management.
In 2016, the ABD Energy Working Group discussed its recommendations with heads of state and government in the context of the U.S.-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit, and at the Regional Dialogue on the Water-Energy Nexus organized by the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).
In September of this year, meanwhile, the Third ECPA Ministerial Meeting will take place in Viña del Mar, where energy ministers from the region will work to advance the energy transition in the Americas. Making the transition to renewable energy sources is a major, long-term effort that will take the combined efforts of the public and private sectors.
Toward this end, the ABD Energy Working Group will interact with governments of the region during the preparatory process for the ministerial meeting, offering private sector expertise to advise the countries as they seek to develop reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable access to energy by implementing policies and regulatory frameworks that facilitate financing and investment in the energy sector and the use of more modern, efficient, and cleaner technologies.
Secretariat of the Americas Business Dialogue