Uruguay has demonstrated economic growth as well as high levels of human development. Simultaneously, its open economy remains vulnerable to oscillations in the global market. Exports rely primarily on agriculture and livestock that are intense in the use of natural resources. To address these challenges, the government is committed to green economy in pursuit of higher income, better wealth distribution, job creation and poverty reduction.

Several national planning processes have been completed, including a National Development Strategy - Uruguay 2050, aNational Agenda of Infrastructure, and theNational Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development. The government has also created the National Planning Directorate to advise on strategic action for the country’s long-term sustainable development.

Since joining in 2017, PAGE has helped to inform these planning processes, working to strengthen capacity to assess the impact of environmental policies, enhance public-private collaboration and raise awareness. On a thematic and sectoral level, PAGE work has focused on supporting operationalisation of circular economy concepts. Circular economy was mainstreamed into the overarching programme Transforma Uruguay – focused on promoting a productive transformation of the country’s economy and supported by a National Circular Economy Action Plan.Work has also been pursued on green and productive services, greening of enterprises, waste valorisation and land use tensions

This has contributed to several Sustainable Development Goals, including:

Learn more about PAGE work in Uruguay in our 2019 Annual Report

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NATIONAL POLICYMAKING

NATIONAL POLICYMAKING

Uruguay has taken significant steps to integrate environmental dimensions into national planning and strategy formulation with PAGE support. These are highlighted below:

Incorporating IGE into national policies

Several activities have been completed to support integration of IGE into national policy frameworks, as follows:

  • National Environmental Plan: Uruguay’s National Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development was formally launched in October 2019. This Plan provides a framework for developing policies at a national level that integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. To create a unified framework for environmental management, the Plan seeks to strengthen the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, which is the environmental authority responsible for environmental planning. It also calls for the National Environmental System – an inter-agency group comprised of various national bodies – to prepare a plan to align the activities of actors at national, departmental and municipal levels.
  • National Development Strategy: PAGE supported the inclusion of environmental components into the National Development Strategy Uruguay 2050 officially announced in August 2019. As well as providing an overarching environmental perspective, PAGE’s role in the development of the Strategy included a strategic environmental assessment and greenhouse gasses scenario analysis on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain. This, together with the National Environmental Plan contribute to SDG 17, target 17.14, by enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development. Work on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain contributes to SDG 8, target 8.4, by working to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, and SDG 12, target 12.2, by promoting the sustainable management and efficient use of natural materials. The development of greenhouse gasses scenario analysis supports SDG 13, targets 13.1 and 13.2 by integrating climate change measures into national policies.

Macroeconomic modelling

Building on the green economy assessment completed in 2015PAGE has facilitated the use of macroeconomic modelling and related capacity development for public officials, enabling them to develop economic models with an environmental component and evaluate the potential impacts of environmental policies. In 2018, PAGE supported the development of a report describing available models for impact assessment of environmental policies at a macroeconomic level. This work contributes SDG 17, targets 17.18 and 17.19, by increasing the availability of data and measurements of the progress towards the SDGs.

SECTORAL AND THEMATIC REFORM

SECTORAL AND THEMATIC REFORM

A Green Economy Assessment completed in 2015 identified priority areas that could drive a green economy transition in Uruguay, including agriculture, livestock, industry and tourism. These findings contributed to the implementation of PAGE activities as follows:

Green and inclusive production and services

Together with key government institutions, PAGE has been developing public policies to promote the greening of traditionally “brown” productive activities. Specially, PAGE has played an important role in addressing issues related to artisanal brick production. This includes organizing the first international event on Cleaner Production and Formulisation of Brick Production Activities in May 2019. Since October 2019, PAGE has been supporting the creation of the Pando Brick Production School and Park to provide theoretical and practical training in the production of bricks, incorporate good practices, promote efficiency, improve marketing conditions and improve working conditions. Finally, throughout November 2019, PAGE organized capacity building workshops on raw materials and cleaner production throughout Uruguay. This work contributes to SDG 8, target 8.3, by promoting productive activities that support sustainable development objectives.

Land use tensions in mixed use metropolitan areas

Since 2018, PAGE has been supporting the design and implementation of policies to relieve tensions between industrial activities and residential areas in metropolitan Montevideo. In March 2019, a final report was completed characterising an urban zone that shows tensions between leather tannery activities and residential use. The conclusions and lessons learnt from this report serve as an important input for the design of public policy addressing this issue. This work supports SDG 11, target 11.3 by enhancing inclusive and sustainable urbanisation.

Circular economy

Steps have been taken to support the development of a circular economy as key component of a green economy transition. The immediate focus has been the development of a National Action Plan on Circular Economy, as well as the launching of the National Circular Economy Awards. In addition, Uruguay has explored the possibility of expanding the application of the circular economy concept with advice from Finland. Going forward, PAGE plans to support the establishment of Circular Bio-Economy technological centre. This work contributes to SDG 12, target 12.5, by reducing waste generationThe North-South exchange contributes to SGD 17, target 17.6 by facilitating knowledge sharing.

Greening of businesses

PAGE is supporting a programme for the greening of micro, small and medium sized enterprises, with an emphasis on cleaner production and labour formalisation. In 2018, PAGE collaborated with the Energy Efficiency Programme of the National Directorate of Energy to create an app that helps businesses to improve their energy efficiency. In December 2019, a company was selected to design and implement this tool. This workstream supports SDG 8, targets 8.3 and 8.4, by promoting resource efficiency and supporting productive activities, job creation and labour formalisation. It also contributes to SDG 12, target 12.A, by supporting scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable consumption and production.

Waste valorisation

PAGE collaborated with Plan Ceibal (a national initiative providing information and communication technology equipment to primary and secondary schools), in the development of prototypes of locking brick-like blocks that use recycled plastics recovered from disused computer equipment from Plan Ceibal devices. Finalised in August 2019, the prototypes are being used as furniture in schools and educational spaces. This contributes to SDG 12, target 12.5, by reducing waste generation.

STRENGTHENING CAPACITY

STRENGTHENING CAPACITY

In addition to progressing a detailed Green Economy Learning Assessment that will feed into a national capacity strengthening plan, PAGE has carried out several capacity building efforts aligned to sectoral and thematic areas. These include green entrepreneurship and green and inclusive production services. In addition, it has participated in several collaborative activities within Latin America and globally.

Institutionalising IGE learning

In 2018, PAGE commenced work on a Green Economy Learning Assessment to feed into the National Capacity Strengthening Plan for IGE (due to be finalised in April 2020). In 2019, work also commenced with the National Institute for Employment and Professional Training to institutionalise green economy training into its curricula, aiming to reach approximately 100,000 individuals, including labour unions and civil servants. Additionally, PAGE has agreed with the National School of Public Administration to further develop an online platform to deliver courses on green economy, primarily targeted at civil servants. These activities support SDG 4, target 4.7 by identifying learning needs to promote sustainable development.

Building individual capacity

Several trainings have taken place throughout 2019 supporting SDG 4, target 4.7by ensuring all learners acquire the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development. These include:

  • Training in May on green economy scenarios;
  • Two workshops on the Strategic Environmental Assessment, with the first in March on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain and the second in June on the overarching environmental perspective of the Strategy;
  • Workshops on green jobs and entrepreneurship for youth throughout September across different locations; and
  • A series of capacity building events in November on cleaner production and formulisation of brick production activities in various locations.

South-south collaboration

Uruguay has participated several events and collaborative activities throughout 2019 supporting SDG 17, target 17.6, by enhancing South-South cooperation and knowledge sharing, and target 17.9, by increasing international support for capacity-building:

  • Participation in the inception meeting for PAGE Argentina in April;
  • Presentation by PAGE national coordinator and Head of the Environmental Department of the Chamber of Industries of Uruguay in October 2019 as part of World Commons Week organized by the University of Massachusetts and Cornell University and performed simultaneously in the United States, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.