Intersectoral Forum on Environmental Sustainability in the Extractive Sector: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada

The Pacific Alliance Sustainable Development and Skills for Employment in the Extractive Sector Program (referred to as the Pacific Alliance Education for Employment Program, PA-EFE) seeks to increase socioeconomic opportunities for women and men in a sustainable and inclusive extractive sector within the Pacific Alliance (PA) countries. The program is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and was presented to the PA during the Ministerial Dialogue between the PA and the Observer Countries, within the framework of the meetings associated with the XI Summit of the PA (July 1st, 2016).

The Program recognizes two fundamental pillars for its development. The first pillar is the establishment of institutional partnerships between CICan member institutes of higher education and Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions in the four PA countries. The main objective of these partnerships is to improve the quality and diversification of the training supply. The final beneficiaries of this institutional support are young people, men and women in the communities and the training centres in the regions, as well as indigenous communities where companies in the extractive sector operate, all of whom need to develop skills demanded by the labour market and will have access to training processes in the technical training institutions participating in the Program.
The second pillar of the Program focuses on supporting good governance of the extractive sector by establishing opportunities to exchange experiences and strengthen the capacity of actors from the public, private and civil society sectors related to the extractive sector in the four countries, through the strengthening of regional dialogue and the exchange of best practices.

One of the results of the Program has been the development of a series of five thematic forums, whose objectives include opening spaces for regional dialogue between the countries of the Pacific Alliance and Canada, and strengthening the capacity of national and regional actors to face priority challenges in certain areas of the extractive sector, such as gender equality, technical training, environmental sustainability and the articulation of training supply with labour market demand, among others.

The first three of the Program’s thematic forums—the Forum on Gender Equality in the Extractive Sector and the Forum on Indigenous Communities, Education for Employment and Relations with the Extractive Sector (both held in 2019), and the Intersectoral Forum on Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada (held in 2020), were all successful events. Challenges and best practices for government-level policies were identified, as well as joint recommendations and conclusions on possible next steps for these specific themes were summarized in the above published reports.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Sustainable Development Goal #7, which deals with ensuring environmental sustainability, basic natural resources and ecosystems should be managed sustainably in order to meet the population’s demand for food and other environmental, social, and economic needs. Climate change, increasing water scarcity, and conflicts around access to resources are challenges to environmental sustainability and food security. In order to meet this goal, countries need to work together to foster their capacity to integrate environmental aspects into their development plans and strategies, sustainably manage and use natural resources, ensure that these are used to promote economic recovery and livelihoods, and effectively direct policies towards reducing poverty and providing social protection to those that need it.

Accordingly, the Pacific Alliance’s has the objective of creating, in a participative and consensus-based manner, an area of integration to progressively advance towards the free movement of goods, services, capital and people; drive further growth, development and competitiveness of the economies its member countries, aiming to improve wellbeing, address socioeconomic inequality and promote social inclusion; and finally transforming into a platform of political articulation, of economic and commercial integration, with global outreach, with emphasis in the Asian Pacific region.

The Presidential Declaration of the Pacific Alliance about the Sustainable Management of Plastics reaffirms the commitment of the four countries to accomplish the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, by eliminating, as soon as possible, single use plastics and focusing on waste management.

Before the Presidential mandate of July 1st 2016 that created the Environment and Green Growth Technical Group (GTMACV, by its acronym in Spanish), the Ministries of the Environment of the PA countries signed onto a declaration that outlined an interest in creating a working group inside the Pacific Alliance por the development and implementation of an agenda that promotes sustainability in the PA and to guides its actions towards green growth, taking into account the characteristics and specific realities of each country. This will be based on the following approaches1:

1. Identify barriers and opportunities between the public and private sectors to advance towards green growth.
2. Engage in dialogue and define joint actions to promote and drive the development and implementation of environmental commitments.
3. Develop cooperation efforts between governments and the private sector.
4. Develop a platform to coordinate and promote a common environmental agenda that addresses shared environmental priorities and contributes to the implementation of the SDGs in the framework of the 2030 Agenda, advancing in information systems, measurement, and indicators.

The Pacific Alliance member countries have expressed their objective of continuing to promote sustainable and inclusive development in the region, contributing to the fulfilment of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its goals, in line with the PA’s Strategic Vision for 2030. Accordingly, the ministries of environment, in coordination with other government agencies as well as in coordination with the private sector and the PA’s Technical Groups on Innovation and Cooperation, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), developed the Roadmap to Sustainable Management of Plastics, which defines a set of actions for identifying concrete initiatives to move towards the sustainable management of plastics in the PA countries.

The extraction of natural resources is responsible for supplying the necessary raw materials for production processes. As is the case in the oil industry, where an important part of its extraction is dedicated to the production of plastics which are used in the extractive industries such as mining. Where plastic is ideal for mining equipment due to their wear resistance, impact resistance, and thermal mitigation properties. Plastic is also used in some stages of production, mineral extraction, cleaning, and transportation.

Being an important source of generation of plastic waste, therefore, the Roadmap towards a Sustainable Management of Plastics aims to identify concrete actions that allow progress towards a sustainable management of plastics (and therefore in the industries its used in) in the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance.

Now, in this 5th year of implementation of the PA-EFE Program and in order to support our PA member country partners reach their sustainable development and green growth objectives, we are working collaboratively to co-develop the Program’s 4th thematic forum on Environmental Sustainability: Intersectoral Forum on Environmental Sustainability in the Extractive Sector: Best Practices and Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada, within the framework of the above mentioned international and PA contextual objectives and priorities, as well within the framework of the PA-EFE Program’s own objectives.