The Business Year

Gustavo Manrique

ECUADOR - Green Economy

Gustavo Manrique

Minister, Ministry of Environment, Water, and Ecological Transition

Bio

Gustavo Manrique has successfully served as founder & president of the International Environmental Summit – CIMA, and the Latin America Green Awards, among others. Due to his strategic influencing capacity to achieve great contributions to the sustainable development of the country and the region, in 2020 he was considered one of the 100 most influential leaders in climate change in Latin America.

Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment, Water, and Ecological Transition wants to send the world the message that conservation can go hand in hand with development. 

What led to the change in name from the Ministry of Water to the Ministry of the Ecological Transition?

President Lasso made the decision to change the ministry’s name with two intentions. First, to create a transversal public policy that would work on the width and breadth of all of the public policy of the circular economy of conservation, sustainability, protection of natural resources. I have nearly 30 years of experience working toward sustainability, and I can put the knowledge that I have gained during my professional life to the service of Ecuador. There are lessons I have learned that I can now apply to the public sector. The green economy is part of the green recovery of Ecuador.

How will this change be realized in concrete terms?

In many ways, it has affirmed national agreements. There are a number of examples, such as the national agreement for decarbonization, and we are working with many state portfolios, likely those that have the closest connection to the environment, such as agriculture, energy, mobility, real estate, and tourism. With the help of a French development agency, we are conducting roundtables and workshops to develop plans to reduce emissions by 22.5% by 2025. Additionally, with the private sector we have the Ecuador Carbon Zero project, which aims to help many companies achieve carbon neutrality. This involves measuring their base line of carbon emissions, having a reduction plan, and finally a plan for conservation or compensation through protected areas and zones of Ecuador.

How is the ministry planning to tackle bureaucratic obstacles to promote investment in the green economy?

There are a few of ways to achieve this. One involves a process of automation for two things: everything that has to do with permits and licenses to expedite the process without sacrificing environmental controls, and automation in terms of software that is more agile or dynamic. Additionally, the ministry has presented the law of the creation of opportunities in the tax law for all investments that have to do with bio-entrepreneurship, sustainability, the circular economy, restoration, and conservation. Moreover, topics related to conservation have the benefit of double deductibility on the amount of income so that as much as one invests in a project, one can enjoy double spending and pay reduced income tax. These initiatives promote investment, making it a more agile proposition.

What importance does Ecuador’s new marine reserve have for the ministry?

This project, more than being important for the ministry, is important for humanity at large. This new marine reserve in the Galápagos, the geographic zone that President Lasso decided to protect, is located above some marine mountains. That means that there are coral reefs. And as a result, there are species there that are not the targets of fishermen, such as sharks, turtles, and manta rays. They follow this route as it connects with waters of Costa Rica or Panama, and from Costa Rica they connect with the waters of Colombia. In protecting this zone, all this marine richness, flora, and fauna are protected from fishing. This is how the project benefits humanity. Without a doubt, the message that Ecuador is sending to the world is one in which conservation goes hand in hand with development. Ecuador is keen to create jobs for seven out of 10 of today’s unemployed, while at the same time, also protecting the natural world. Indeed, Ecuador is positioning itself as a global power in terms of conservation.

What projects or initiatives are you undertaking in the move toward a circular economy?

We have signed the decree about the implementation of the extended producer responsibility on lead acid batteries. Producers are required to demonstrate through an adequate environmental management that they will recycle 80% of the batteries that they put on the market. The other project that we are working is related to e-waste, with the purpose to implement the extended producer responsibility on this type of wastes.

How will the ministry collaborate with the government of Norway to combat deforestation?

The country has a national policy for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), which is executed nationally, being a leading country in its preparation and implementation. Thanks to the favorable results in reducing deforestation and its associated GHG emissions, the country has been recognized with results-based payments by countries such as Germany and Norway through the REM Program, and by the Green Fund for the Climate through the REDD+ Result Bases Payment Pilot Program. The climate financing that has been mobilized by REDD+ has contributed to the country to execute territorial actions to mitigate climate change, it also promotes activities that reduce the causes of deforestation and promote the conservation, management and sustainable use of forest resources. At the COP26 in Glasgow, a bilateral agreement was reached with Norway, on the intention to increase its investments in Ecuador through USD24 million, which will be invested to enhance the REDD+ actions that are executed in the country. This will allow us to reduce the financing gaps of the REDD+ Action Plan, under results-based payments. Ecuador is working on the mechanism and enablers to materialize this financing and maintain a formal negotiation on this Glasgow manifesto.

What are your next goals?

We will build an important exhibition center of biodiversity and also automate the licensing process for environmental registration. We also have an investment project for our nature parks, and rise from 18,000ha of water protection to 280,000ha in the country. There are other projects planned with the Galápagos that we will announce soon.

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