Latin America produces 44% of the world's copper, 49% of its silver and 65% of its lithium. It hosts 20% of the world's oil reserves, 33% of its fresh water and 20% of the planet’s native woodland. Clearly, the region has a unique potential in terms of natural resources.
Existing manufacturing processes take raw materials and turn them into products that, too often, are only briefly used and then discarded. We consume natural resources 50% faster than they can be replaced. We use an unsustainable, linear production model.
But it is not too late to change. The circular economy approach proposes a new paradigm to how developing countries can industrialize in an inclusive and sustainable way. It challenges the outdated conception of manufacturing, proposing a system where products are designed for durability, reuse and recyclability, where materials for new products come from old ones.
“Latin America can strongly benefit from a circular economy approach”, confirms Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO’s representative in the regional office in Uruguay. For him, “the region combines the natural endowments, private sector capabilities and institutions to nurture a balanced industrialization path that generates growth and jobs in an environmentally-friendly manner”.