The Earth Summit "Rio+20:" Implications for Chile and its Development
Chile's options for greater environmental sustainability formed the central theme of a high-level conference at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago on 18 April 2012. With two keynote presentations, Michael Mehling of Ecologic Institute in Washington DC framed the lively debate on political strategies and policy options, thereby providing an international perspective on best practices and expectations. The presentations are available for download.
Despite a track record of political stability and economic success, Chile faces important challenges in its continued development, including controversial decisions on how to meet a rapidly expanding energy demand and tackle rising social inequality. In preparation for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ("Rio+20"), U.N. ECLAC, Centro Democracia y Comunidad, and the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation jointly organized a conference with senior Chilean decision makers and civil society representatives to assess these challenges and discuss proposed solutions.
Speaking to over 300 participants, Michael Mehling first provided an overview of European and North American expectations [pdf, 105 kB, English] for the "Rio+20" summit, providing the broader context for a subsequent panel on prospects and opportunities for sustainable development and green growth in Chile. With a second presentation [pdf, 1 MB, English], he outlined the successful German experience with economic incentives for environmental protection – such as the ecological tax reform and the feed-in tariff for renewable energy – and highlighted opportunities for their introduction in Chile. A second panel discussion followed, focusing on the potential role of fiscal reform in Chile's strategy related to environmental protection.
Senior decision makers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Environment as well as several key stakeholders participated in the well-attended event. The conference was preceded by a two-day visiting program organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, featuring meetings with decision makers in various Chilean government agencies, civil society organizations, and academic institutions.