Huge potential for further sustainable economic and industrial development: UNIDO Director General tours Latin America

Huge potential for further sustainable economic and industrial development: UNIDO Director General tours Latin America
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Fecha de publicación: 
21 May 2024
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UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller engaged in ten day visit to the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, his second visit to the region in the past six months following his trip to Costa Rica and Mexico in September 2023.

In Chile, the Director General attended the United Nations System Chief Executive Board (CEB) for a Coordination meeting, led by the Secretary-General, António Guterres, together with the heads of other UN Organizations. There they took stock of the economic and social situation on the continent and the unique impact of current global crises on the region. Müller stressed UNIDO’s contribution to food security, energy security, environmental and climate protection, and job creation, reaffirming UNIDO’s commitment to expanding sustainable economic and industrial development solutions in LAC. Furthermore, the CEB also pushed forward with preparations for the Summit of the Future in September 2024.

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During his time in Santiago de Chile, the Director General visited “El Teniente”, the largest copper mine in the world, accompanied by Gabriel Mendez, Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at the state-owned mine operator, CODELCO. Critical minerals such as copper to be central to future sustainable industrialization, with great economic and value-addition potential for Latin America especially, as Müller observed. Thus, during his meeting with Aurora Williams, Chile’s Minister of Mining, he highlighted the role to be played by UNIDO’s new Global Alliance for Responsible and Green Minerals, noting that “implementing a high-quality sustainability concept that protects both people and nature is a major challenge for many, particularly small-scale and artisanal mines in developing countries.”

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In Quito, Ecuador, the Director General toured the pharmaceutical production facilities of Grünenthal, a leading German firm specializing in pain therapies with local production for both national and international markets, which is also developing further capacity for the local pharmaceutical industry. At the Mindo Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve, Müller noted that Ecuador is 42% covered by forests and thus one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, offering effective lessons in conservation: “Mindo is a great example of how human and economic activity can be in harmony with nature.” Furthermore in Ecuador he held bilateral meetings with Maria Gabriela Sommerfeld Rosero, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, and Vice Minister of Production and Industries Fernando Perez.

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In Panama, accompanied by Panama’s Ambassador to Vienna, Dario Chiru Ochoa, the Director General met with the Panama Canal Authority alongside private sector representatives. They discussed solutions to the water use and preservation challenges which the Canal’s operations create for local communities, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Müller offered UNIDO’s technical expertise in support of decarbonizing the Panama Canal’s operations and improving energy efficiency. While in Panama, Müller held talks with Minister of Commerce and Industry, Jorge Rivera Staff, Yill del Carmen Otero, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as Rosilena Lindo, Secretary of Energy.

In Cuba, Müller met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel to identify areas for expanded cooperation, as well as Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ricardo Cabrisas, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce and Foreign Investment. Meeting the UN Country Team at the UN Hub in Havana headed by Resident Coordinator Francisco Pichon, Müller and UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima joined the team in identifying new partnership opportunities. On a visit to the Mariel Special Development Zone, Director General Müller toured a new biotech plant co-launched by the Havana Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which UNIDO has been supporting since the 1990s. In addition to biotech, in Cuba UNIDO has also been engaged in energy efficiency, agribusiness, and sustainable industrial modernization initiatives.

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