On April 10th and 11th, 2015, the Seventh Summit of the Americas brought together the heads of state and government leaders from every country in the Western Hemisphere for the first time.The Summit, hosted in Panama this year, was first launched by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1992. The overarching theme of the Summit was “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.” This year’s Summit was especially significant due to the first-ever presence of both Cuba and the United States, in addition to every other nation in the region.
The Summit took place during an important phase in Western Hemispheric development as Latin America continues to rise economically. According to Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of Panama, Latin American GDP is expected to reach $10 trillion by 2020—double the growth since 2010—with 640 million active consumers. In conjunction with this rapid growth, the region’s leaders reaffirmed their commitment to equality, recognizing it as a necessity for the sustainable growth of Latin American countries as well as for peace and stability throughout the region.
A draft declaration on future regional action was approved by 34 Ministers out of the needed 35. Despite the cancellation of the declaration, a number of new initiatives were announced throughout the course of the summit. One is the announcement of the Clean Energy Finance Facility — a $20 million facility designed to encourage investment in clean energy projects. This new investment is planned to provide early stage funding for private and public sector investment with financing and technical expertise from various U.S. agencies.
President Obama also announced several commitments of assistance to the region that will focus on improving energy security, reducing energy costs and fighting climate change in Central America and the Caribbean. A clean energy technology partnership between the U.S. and Jamaican departments of energy was announced and the two governments signed a statement of intent to focus on conservation and efficiency, infrastructure, fuel diversification and energy policy. Finally, several countries at the summit also committed to doubling their collective share of non-hydro renewable energy by 2030.
Planet 4 People has worked extensively across Latin America and applauds the regional cooperation that took place during the Summit of the Americas as well as the new commitments to clean energy and fighting climate change. Planet 4 People works with government entities to support their efforts in these endeavors and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by conducting sustainability evaluations, adjusting policies and legislation, creating sustainability strategies and establishing effective standards and monitoring systems. The work of Planet 4 People extends beyond governments to include communities seeking better practices while building economic stability; protected areas seeking a balance between conservation, ecosystem services provision, and community engagement. We look forward to the fulfillment of the commitments made during the Summit of the Americas and to further regional cooperation throughout the Western Hemisphere.