St. Gallen 16 April 2015 Resource-efficient enterprises in emerging countries are facing tough challenges, such as lack of available capital and infrastructure and weak legal framework governing natural resources. At the same time pressure on availability of metals, minerals and fossil fuels has been rising in emerging economies at a much faster rate than in the developed world and thus innovative solutions for resources are urgently needed. This was the problem that Angel Versetti and Sonia Valdivia of the World Resources Forum Secretariat along with Sandra Mendez Fajardo (Empa) posed to participants at the Emerge Conference, held last month at the University of St Gallen.
Angel Versetti presented a new WRF project, which aims at providing a solution for lack of available capital in emerging economies. A platform for financing resource-efficient investments would match capital-abundant geographic regions or clusters institutions with innovative and scalable projects in emerging economies, whose potential social impact goes well beyond its intermediate profitability indicators. Despite the apparent shift in corporate and institutional finance thinking towards the sustainability agenda and increasing awareness of the scarcity of available resources, the actual amounts of capital invested into resource-efficient sustainable enterprises have been low and thus the challenge is to converge economic interest with social and environmental benefits. Today in emerging economies this is possible in absolute terms, but when private opportunity cost is taken into account, the gap is still significant. “Therefore, mobilization of responsible investors, corporations and institutions with strong ethical values and foundations working towards sustainability is of utmost importance in mainstreaming financing of resource-efficient industries in emerging economies, a grand task on which World Resources Forum has embarked”, Angel Versetti said.
Sonia Valdivia went on to present how World Resources Forum and Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) are addressing threats of environmental pollution, public health hazard and cross-contamination that arise of unsafe recycling practices such as open cable burning and unsafe plastic recycling. She presented the emerging stewardship initiative of SRI that aims to develop a framework for policies and standards for sustainable management of secondary resources and the role of WRF’s partners and stakeholders achieving this. Finally, thanks to Sonia’s input the guests of the workshop realized that their phones contain ten times more gold per cubic meter than a chunk raw gold ore itself!
Sandra Mendez Fajardo then presented a case-study of electronic waste management practices in Colombia and suggested solutions on policy design that could improve efficiency of recycling of electronic equipment in Colombia and other emerging economies. Between different governmental branches into whose competence recycling may fall – including four Ministries of Environment; ICT; Public Health; and Import/Export as well as professional producers’ associations – there is no entity clearly entrusted with overseeing and managing the process, leading to challenges in effective electronic waste management in Colombia.The main takeaway of her case-study was that stronger public management of electronic recycling industries could improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
The Emerge Conference 2015 was hosted by the University of St. Gallen and AIESEC, from 18-20 March 2015. It was the 8th edition of a series of conferences which can be seen as the premier student-run conference on emerging markets worldwide. Emerge conferences have a competitive application process resulting in the 100 most motivated outstanding student candidates from across the globe being invited to take part in workshops, keynote speeches and networking events involving academic experts and practitioners from various fields.
More information about the WRF and Empa initiatives can be obtained by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org