Hydrogen Potential in Latin America

Hydrogen Potential in Latin America

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The topic of hydrogen and issues surrounding it as a potential building block for the energy transition have coursed through policy, regulatory and investment debates across the globe. Given its important markets and developments, Latin America has begun to figure prominently in the hydrogen conversation.

Following up on discussions at Institute of the Americas’ Steering Committee meetings over the last several weeks, we have engaged with government officials, investors, regulators and consultants to analyze the sector and render our view on the current landscape for hydrogen in Latin America. Through 10 questions, we assessed the landscape for hydrogen development and potential in five key markets in Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. Out analysis is represented in our infographic that is the first in a series.

We will periodically produce similar infographics analyzing additional countries’ hydrogen potential across the Americas. Stay tuned for those editions.

Institute study highlights China’s expanding presence in Latin America’s energy sector

Institute study highlights China’s expanding presence in Latin America’s energy sector

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

Environment & Climate Change Program launched

Environment & Climate Change Program launched

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.

Learn more about the Institute’s Environment & Climate Change program.

International Women’s Day in Science: “Mujeres en STEAM” 

International Women’s Day in Science: “Mujeres en STEAM” 

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.

Ernesto Grijalva appointed as Institute’s Practitioner in Residence

Ernesto Grijalva appointed as Institute’s Practitioner in Residence

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.

Hemispheric Advisory Board Established, Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow, Enrique García, Paulo Sotero Named as Founding Members

Hemispheric Advisory Board Established, Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow, Enrique García, Paulo Sotero Named as Founding Members

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.


Enrique García

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.

Paulo Sotero

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.