On Tuesday (April 7) the World Bank approved a large investment with the purpose of spurring the green economy in rural areas of Argentina. A total of $265 million will be granted to existing projects with the objectives of providing access to renewable energy in rural zones, ensuring sustainable management of forests and protecting natural areas, the World Bank announced. The projects are targeting one of the poorer strata of the population, those living in rural zones that are not connected to the national transport and electricity network.
The largest share of the investment ($200m) will provide resources to the new phase of the Renewable Energy for Rural Markets Project (PERMER) fostering the deployment of renewable energy in rural communities. The investment will support the diffusion of solar and wind power as well as solar water heaters and stoves in public schools and other buildings. The first stage of PERMER, now completed, ensured the access to renewable energy to 150.000 people throughout the country. The new phase targets 725.000 residents living in isolated areas disconnected to the electricity grid.
A second share of the funding ($58.7m) is allocated to the Native Forests and Communities project, aiming to encourage sustainable forest management in indigenous areas. Special attention is given to the Gran Chaco region, which is highly valued for its biodiversity level but is being severely damaged by deforestation. As reported by La Mañana de Cordoba, in the 2006-2011 time span over 1.5 million hectares of native forest were subject to deforestation. A large amount of the population, especially indigenous, is heavily dependent on the existence of native forests as the main source of income.
Lastly, a grant of $6.2m from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is given to promote land management in ca. 1 million hectares in Argentinian non-urban areas, including the Gran Chaco, the Patagonian steppe and marine-coastal areas.
“Through these projects we intend to close the service access gap between rural and urban inhabitants” said Jesko Hentschel, World Bank Director for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in the World Bank press release. “By providing electricity to remote towns, protecting the native forests […] and preserving the biodiversity of the Gran Chaco, we contribute to the promotion of better living conditions among the poorest 40 percent of Argentines”.
The World Bank announcement is another episode attesting that green growth is on the crest of the wave for Latin and Central American economies. On Thursday, April 9, Obama announced a partnership with Caribbean and Central American countries focused on reforming the energy sector and addressing climate change. The Caribbean region will benefit from a $20 million investment in clean energy projects, improving energy security and efficiency and contrasting climate change, Reuters reported. The day after, the Seventh Summit of the Americas held in Panama City saw a joint declaration from international financial institutions – including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Development Bank of Latin America – expressing their commitment to support inclusive economic growth in the continent and to reduce social and economic inequality.
(Image: Farmers in San José de Lules, Argentina, April 2012. Photo credit: Nico_/Flickr)