On February 11, the Institute of the Americas formally launched our report, “China Stakes Its Claim in Latin American Energy: What It Means for the Region, the U.S. and Beijing”. The launch event and webinar was co-hosted by University of California TV (UCTV) and is now being rebroadcast on their network. Partial funding for the report and launch event was provided by Alumbra Innovations Foundation.
At the launch event, Cecilia Aguillon, Energy Transition Initiative Director and Jeremy M. Martin, Vice President, Energy & Sustainability presented key report findings and highlights. They detailed the many facets as to how and where China is broadening its presence in Latin America’s energy and strategic minerals sectors, posing challenges to the regional countries themselves as well as to the United States. A robust discussion panel followed the presentation of the report and featured Matt Ferchen, Head of Global China Research at Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and Michael Davidson, Assistant Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) at UCSD.
China has clearly, as our report title notes, staked a claim in LAC’s energy sector. In 2020, Chinese M&A deals in LAC energy reached $7.7 billion, according to Bloomberg, or 25% of Chinese acquisitions worldwide. Between 2000-2019, China made investments and loans of more than $58 billion in regional energy sectors, with most going to oil and natural gas projects, followed by renewable energy.
With the contours of the global energy transition and increased attention on reducing emissions and climate action spurring huge growth in renewable energy, China has flexed its muscles in that segment of the global energy sector and in LAC.
China’s growing presence in Latin America presents challenges to U.S.-LAC relations, which the new Biden administration must address. A new administration together with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress provides an opportune moment to reset. The new administration has an opportunity to counter China and strengthen US-Latin America relations by encouraging private investment, particularly in mining, clean energy and infrastructure projects and centered on the climate imperative. To read the full report, click here
Early this year, the Institute formally launched its Environment & Climate Change (EC2) program to support and promote the private sector’s role across a wide range of activities ranging from: sustainable financing, green bond project funding, establishing measurable commitments for CO2 emission reductions and/or debt for nature swaps to protect the region’s biodiverse rich marine and terrestrial habitats from destruction or degradation. The Institute’s strategic priorities will be in the following key areas:
Sustainable financing (green, blue and social bonds, impact investments, and debt for nature swaps) for renewable energy, clean public transport, green buildings and protection of critical marine and terrestrial habitats in Latin America;
Reviving regional coastal economies in Latin America tied to environmentally responsible tourism;
Promote expanded exports of environmentally-friendly products by Latin American small and medium sized (SME) companies embracing the circular economy;
Coastal climate resiliency
Key priorities will be addressed through the following goals and objectives:
Expand the sustainability leadership capacity in Latin America by educating, informing and empowering sub-national governments and companies in the region in the areas of sustainable financing, ESG competitiveness, renewable energy and climate resiliency;
Develop public programs and undertake inter-disciplinary research leveraging the collective expertise of practitioners in business, government, civil society and academia to focus on emerging environmental, human health and climate change issues facing the region with a focus on with a focus on environment & business, marine and coastal eco-systems, energy transitions & renewable energy and climate change resiliency;
Share knowledge on emerging trends, innovations, solutions and best practices from around the world to help communities across Latin America better respond to emerging environment, health & climate change challenges;
Facilitate collaboration and dialogue among key private, public and nonprofit stakeholders through public programs focused on the region’s emerging environment, health & climate change challenges.
Among the Institute’s first programmatic initiatives will be undertaking work to determine the feasibility of blue carbon tied nature-based solutions for carbon sequestration in the Californias. A forthcoming study and forum is expected in late Summer 2021.
Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the STEAM Initiative held its first webinar Mujeres en STEAM, Thursday, February 11 in Spanish with 80 Latina girls from the U.S., Mexico, Peru, and Argentina participating.
Three panelists served as speakers and role models including: Laura Almodóvar, Ecology Ph.D. Candidate, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Sabina López, Food Industry Engineer, ALFA Laboratory, Mexico; and Anaí Novoa, Marine Biology Ph.D. Candidate, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Panelists explained their work, education, and fielded questions from the audience. During the webinar, attendees were also asked questions about their goals. One girl, stated, “I am greatly interested in science and getting a STEAM degree is one of my aspirations. In addition, I would love to pave the way for many other women who do not feel encouraged to pursue these careers because they may think that they are only for men.” Another stated, “I would recommend this webinar. These types of sessions provide us with opportunities to find out that we can, in fact, reach our goals. That being said, [the panelists] have become part of what inspires us so that one day, we can be like them.” By the close of the webinar, 91% of the girls reported feeling capable of being a scientist one day.
We hope this first webinar leads to webinar series bringing Latinx scientists, technologists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians together with the next generation of young people to encourage and inspire them to become 21st Century scientists and innovators.
Mr. Grijalva has been a student of U.S.-Latin American legal and political interactions for over 30 years. A UCSD graduate with a bachelor of Arts in Political Science and with a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law, his entire professional career has been focused on U.S.-Latin America business interactions.
The Law Offices of J. Ernesto Grijalva served clients with U.S.-Mexico cross-border business transactions and litigation. In the early 1990’s he became the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s principal spokesperson on NAFTA and International trade issues. In the mid-1990’s he joined the Chamber as VP Legal/International Trade.
In 1998, Ernie was invited to join PriceSmart, Inc., a progeny of Price-Costco. As Sr. VP Legal Affairs Latin America/Caribbean and Chief FCPA Compliance Officer, he was charged with shepherding the legal aspects of PriceSmart’s expansion throughout Central America and then supervising legal matters throughout the Latin America/Caribbean region. In his 20 years with PriceSmart, it grew from operations in 1 country to 13, about 300 employees to 9,000 and about $60 million in annual revenues to over $3 billion. He personally trained thousands of employees on a variety of legal compliance related matters. He served as the Legal Representative of over 30 corporations, serving as President of over 20 PriceSmart subsidiaries and as Secretary or General Manager of a dozen more. He was regularly responsible for subsidiaries corporate/government relations.
His work led to being recognized as a GC Powerlist – The Legal 500 – Most Influential Corporate Counsel in Central America. He is also rated Pre-eminent attorney by Martindale-Hubbell and a certified a Corporate Ethics and Compliance Professional – International.
The Institute of the Americas diverse Board of Directors is composed of 22-member and includes respected business and civic leaders with on-going professional and personal ties across Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2021, we welcome the establishment of a new Hemispheric Advisory Board that will support a broader view of issues in the region. The three founding members are:
Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow
During his thirty-four-year career with the Department of State, Ambassador Davidow served both in Washington D.C. and overseas. He was the U.S. ambassador to Zambia, Venezuela and Mexico, and the Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. His years in Mexico coincided with the advent of a functioning multiparty system. He wrote about his experiences there and the nature of the U.S.-Mexico relationship in The Bear and the Porcupine, the U.S. and Mexico which highlights the complex and often difficult interaction of the two countries. After leaving the Foreign Service, he served as President of the Institute of the Americas for eight years. He is currently a Senior Counselor of the Cohen Group, a consultancy involved in international business strategies, headed by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
Mr. García serves as President Council of International Relations of Latin America (RIAL). He aims to ensure compliance with the objectives that the Council states: to prepare proposals and recommendations to improve the ability to analyze and provide relevant inputs for discussion and implementation of foeign policy in the region.
Former Executive President CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) Bolivia. He joined this role in 1991 and is currently a visiting professor in practice of the Department of International Relations at London School of Economics. Prior to his position with CAF, he was head of Bolivia’s economic and social cabinet, acting on behalf of his country as governor at the World Bank. He has also served as a member of the development committee of the IBRD and the IMF.
Mr. Sotero is a Distinguished Fellow and Former Director Brazil Institute Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2006-2020). He is a current member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of the Americas. Mr. Sotero is an award winning journalist, from 1989 to 2006 he was the Washington correspondent for Estado de S.Paulo, a leading Brazilian daily newspaper. Sotero began his career at Veja in the late 1960s and worked for the magazine in São Paulo, Recife, Brasília, and Paris. He has been in Washington, D.C., since 1980, where he has been a correspondent for Istoé weekly magazine and the financial newspaper Gazeta Mecantil. He is a frequent guest commentator for the BBC, CNN, AlJazeera, Voice of America, National Public Radio, Globo News Television and the Brazilian Radio Network – CBN. He is originally from the state of São Paulo. Mr. Sotero holds a bachelor’s degree in History from the Catholic University of Pernambuco, and a Master’s in Journalism and Public Affairs from the American University, in Washington, D.C.
The Institute of the Americas is proud to welcome our two new members of the Board of Directors. Ms. Molina and Ms. MacDermott, based in Mexico City and New York City accordingly will bring their expertise to support our key programs in Energy and Sustainability, Environment and Climate Change and will support organization-wise strategic thinking to assure the Institute’s mission of “To be a catalyst for promoting economic development and integration, emphasizing the role of the private sector, as a means to improve the economic and social well-being of the people of the Americas.”
Manuela (Nelly) Molina Peralta
Ms. Molina is a Senior Executive with 23 years of experience in energy with roles in IEnova, a Sempra Company, and previously at Kinder Morgan, Inc (Mexico), and El Paso Corp (Mexico). Currently, she serves as Vice President of Investor Relations of Sempra Energy since September 2020. Previously, she was Chief Financial Officer of IEnova where she launched the IPO of the company seven years ago to become the first energy company listed in the Mexican Stock Exchange in 2013. The company is one of the largest issuers of the BMV/S&P Index and ranks among the top 10 companies in the BMV/S&P ESG Index. Her current business oversight experience is about US$10 billion of total assets, US$1.3 billion of revenues, and US$11 billion in financing transactions in the capital and bank markets for the first Mexico’s energy company listed in the Mexican Stock Exchange.
Some of her current Corporate Board Service and Committees include: President (First woman President), Security Issuers Committee at the Mexican Stock Exchange; Vice President, International Chamber of Commerce México; Independent board member, Mexico New International Airport (Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de México – NAIM); Founder investor and board member, NatGas Queretaro, S.A.P.I. de C.V.; Board member, Infraestructura Marina del Golfo, S. de R.L. de C.V. (formerly TransCanada); Board member, Ramones Norte Gas Pipeline joint venture; Board member, Energia Sierra Juarez Wind (joint venture of IEnova and Saavi); President, Mexican Institute of Finance Executives (Instituto Mexicano de Ejecutivos en Finanzas – IMEF); Independent board advisor, “Antes de Partir, A.C.”; Member, Women Corporate Directors organization; and Member, Corporate Governance Committee, Consejo CoordinadorEmpresarial (Business Council) in Mexico.
She holds a Masters in Finance (2009) from EGADE Business School at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and a bachelors Degree in Accounting (1995), Graduated with honors from Universidad de Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico. Ms. Molina with her new seat at the Institute of the Americas’ board of directors will add value by sharing her executive level expertise in finance and operations in the energy and infrastructure sector.
Siobhan M. MacDermott, Global Managing Partner, Tata Consultancy Services
Ms. MacDermott serves as Global Managing Partner at Tata Consultancy Services. Before her current role, she served as vice chairman in Global Corporate & Investment Banking, focused on global technology at Bank of America as well as head of the Global Cyber Public Policy team at Bank of America ensuring to improve cyber resiliency of the global financial system. Ms. MacDermott joined Bank of America in July 2016 after leading the Cyber Economics practice at EY (Ernst & Young), and consulting to Fortune 500 boards on geopolitics and cybersecurity. Her international experience includes her serving as Chief Investment Officer for AVG Technologies in the Czech Republic, London and Netherlands and spent over 20 years working in Silicon Valley, running several IPOs and M&A deals. She has helped direct strategy for a number of financial services and technology companies around the globe. In addition, she’s an accomplished author, having just published her sixth book.
Some of her current Board Seats include: Vice Chair, Fund for Peace, Washington DC; Advisory Board Member, Free Trade Europa, Stockholm, Sweden; Associate Fellow, Global Fellowship Initiative, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Geneva, Switzerland; Board Member, Edward R. Murrieta Center for a Digital World, Tufts University, Boston, MA; Member, Advisory Council of the Global Master of Arts Program, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Boston, MA; Board Member, Center for Global Risk and Security, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA; Fellow, 2018 class, Finance Leaders Fellowship, Aspen, CO; Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN), Aspen, CO. She graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Literature. She holds a Master of Business Administration in International Business and Economics from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Global Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She has worked in eight countries and speaks five languages.