By Verónica Trigueros Conejo - International Relations Student
Latin America (LA) has suffered, for a long time now, from a lack of strategies to increase the region's development. During the last couple of years, due to the pandemic, the crises have increased exponentially, but this in turn can mean an opportunity to rethink a new development strategy in the Latin American region. In this situation, regional integration becomes the most viable option to consolidate a strong step towards the development of the countries that are part of Latin America. For this reason, it is important to mention throughout this article the capacity for integration, its importance and what this could mean, as well as the use of regional organizations of LA already established so that they can be used as a tool to implement new projects such as the circular economy, and, finally, the possible way in which the world could be organized by the end of the pandemic.
Even though projects of regional integration in LA have not always worked out as planned, one can say that from now on, there is no other way to get out of this situation if it is not by those means. Certainly, there are challenges to overcome, but in a world as globalized as it is now, no State can survive on their own. There is a global objective right now, and that is to achieve sustainable development, although this is not only referred to economic development, but also still a key aspect in the sense that resources are needed to tackle social inequality and start accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations.Taking that into consideration, to take advantage of pre-established institutions such as the Pacific Alliance (PA) is a necessity. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2020), the circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. So, the PA could represent a great opportunity to start transitioning to a circular economic model, The Pacific Alliance has a defined and successful integration agenda, is unbureaucratic and promotes economic liberalization and diversification, a clear example of that overall, the economies of member countries rank eighth in the world (Alianza del Pacífico, 2021). Chile, which is a member of the PA, is one of the most advanced countries in LA regarding this topic and have taken the boldest steps towards acquiring it. Mexico Colombia and Peru are not leading the topic, but still, they are working towards it through governmental strategies to start making the transition from linear to a circular economy.
Most of the States are trying to achieve sustainable development, and it is not a secret that integration plays a huge role in it, as it is in Europe and Asian-Pacific regions. During the LVI Regular Meeting of the Common Market Council of MERCOSUR, Alicia Bárcena Executive Secretary of CEPAL mentioned that the results in the post-Covid-19 society will be a more regionalized world economy, with shorter value chains organized around three major productive poles: North America, Europe and East Asia (CEPAL, 2020). With that being mentioned, one can observe how important it is to start working towards integration in Latin America if we want to keep on track of achieving great development.
To conclude, I would say that we can observe how it is not a matter of resources that have been keeping the region lagged on development, is the lack of effective and efficient strategies to overcome the situation we have been for quite a time now. Personally, I consider that Latin America is a region with a lot of potentials in which there is enough room to improve in every possible aspect, but sometimes we need to get rid of the idea that the model that we must follow is the one that has been taught by the great powers, and instead, start innovating and cooperating to finally accomplish social, economic, and environmental justice.
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Alianza del Pacífico. (2021). ¿Qué es la Alianza del Pacífico? Alianzapacifico.net. https://alianzapacifico.net/que-es-la-alianza/
CEPAL. (2020, July 1). Deepening Regional Integration Must Be an Essential Component of Any Strategy for Emerging from the Crisis in Order to Move Towards More Sustainable and Resilient Trade. https://www.cepal.org/en/pressreleases/deepening-regional-integration-must-be-essential-component-any-strategy-emerging
Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2020). What is the circular economy? https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/what-is-the-circular-economy