Energy involves gender, integration and climate in Latin America

Energy involves gender, integration and climate in Latin America

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By Mario Osava

Women are the most affected by energy deficiencies in domestic work, mostly in their charge, and activities such as commerce and food production, but they are marginalized in the decisions of the sector.

Because it is, as it is thought, "a technical area, not a social one, men assume the direction and women are assigned administration services," observed the Gender Equality Advisor of the Latin American Energy Organization (Olade), which has headquarters in the capital of Ecuador.

With the hiring of Larrea, an anthropologist with two decades of experience in gender issues, Olade intensified since 2012 the training and sensitization of governments and institutions for the adoption of policies and tools for equality between men and women in decision-making bodies.

Gender units or commissions were created or strengthened in ministries and companies in many countries such as Haiti, Mexico and Uruguay, as a mechanism to overcome inequities.

Training, through various courses and technical assistance, is Olade's main instrument to fulfill the mission with which it was founded in 1973, that of contributing to regional energy integration and security, sustainable development and cooperation among its 27 member countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

"The raw material of Olade is knowledge," defined Fernando Ferreira, executive secretary of the organization from 2014 to 2016, in dialogue with IPS.

Adding the so-called "diplomas", six-week intensive face-to-face courses, to the 10-hour virtual training, a total of 7,200 specialists expanded their knowledge on topics such as planning, renewable energy, social inclusion and energy efficiency.

The number has grown a lot since 2006, when there were 263 participants.

The “leap” occurred with the new tools adopted in the virtual courses from 2012, explained Paola Carrera, coordinator of Information Management and Training. The course on Electrical Losses in 2016, for example, had more than 800 participants.

In addition to the headquarters in Quito, sub-offices in Honduras and Jamaica contribute to the expansion, serving stakeholders from the Caribbean and Central America.

The interdisciplinary and multinational courses are “enriching”. "I realized that the energy situation in Central America is very different from that of South America," said Gloriana Alvarado, from the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute, recalling her participation in the 2013 diploma in Quito.

He was interested in the South American energy management, with conflicts due to the use of hydrocarbons in electricity generation, in contrast to Costa Rica, where "more than 95 percent is generated with renewable sources," mainly hydro, wind and geothermal, he said.

"The average is 20 courses per year, but we promote other ways of sharing knowledge, such as the South-South Cooperation Program," said Ferreira, a Brazilian economist and PhD in Engineering who worked in a state company and various regulatory and planning bodies. energy in your country.

An example is "the exchange between countries with great potential in geothermal but without experience", such as the Andean, and those that have already developed this source, such as Mexico and Central Americans.

Energy information systems and specialized publications of the organization also help to improve the management of the sector in different countries.

La Olade was born on November 2, 1973 as an intergovernmental organization, in reaction to the so-called first international oil crisis, due to the explosion of its prices, which exposed the need to promote energy policies and cooperation in Latin America, with a majority importing oil. hydrocarbons.

Regional energy integration, an original objective, was revealed to be complex and did not advance at the pace of the wishes declared by the energy ministers who meet annually in the intergovernmental organization.

"For the Wave, integration does not end, it is always under construction," said Ferreira, mentioning as "a good regional example" the Electric Interconnection System of Central American Countries, which already has transmission lines in the six Central American countries. since 2014.

In South America there are bilateral agreements that resulted in bi-national hydroelectric plants such as Itaipú and Yaciretá, on the border of Paraguay with Brazil and Argentina, respectively.

But "the Olade lost space for other political institutions," acknowledged its former executive secretary.

In recent decades, several regional or subregional integration and concertation organizations emerged, such as the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which monopolized the decisions policies, limiting the Olade to technical functions.

It is as a "technical advisor" that he designed a regional energy integration and sustainability "roadmap" for Celac in 2015.

He also made a priority study for Unasur in the energy projects of the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America, approved at a presidential summit of the subregion in 2000, with 531 projects.

"We need a second Lima Agreement," said Ferreira, referring to the agreement that Olade created in 1973, which has not been updated.

In the current context, the challenge of integration has to consider climate change and environmental sustainability as an additional axis, he explained. That is why new renewable sources of energy gain importance.

The Olade decided to stimulate solar energy. In October, it installed a small three-kilowatt plant at its headquarters to teach students and interested parties about its operation, measuring the generation, value and volume of greenhouse gases avoided.

The demonstration plant is also a laboratory for solar efficiency in the conditions of Quito, a few kilometers from the equator. "Olade is a privileged place, with the sun strong and almost perpendicular," but the altitude higher than 2,800 meters prevents excessive heat that would reduce photovoltaic productivity, Ferreira said.

"Small countries are more receptive" to renewable energy and energy efficiency, confirmed Jorge Asturias, Director of Studies and Projects at Olade. "The big ones, with the capacity to finance their own studies, cooperate more with international agencies," not regional ones, he lamented.

The future of Olade is linked to new energy markets, added Ferreira. Starting in 2023, Paraguay will have total freedom to sell its electricity in Itaipu, half of the 14,000 megawatts generated by that plant, currently a captive of Brazil. There will thus be new businesses in the Southern Cone.

One difficulty that Olade faces are the arrears in the contribution of member countries, according to Helena Cantizano, head of the International Relations Office of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, who since 2005 has participated in the organization's actions.

"Brazil was insolvent for a long period, being one of the countries that contributes the most, along with Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela," he recalled, noting that his country contributes just over $ 240,000 a year, much less than what it allocates to other multilateral organizations.

Even so, Olade "perfected its personnel selection process, contracting goods and services, and raised the quality of its products", praised Cantizano.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez

Photo: With the view of Quito in the background, Sissy Larrea, Gender Equity Advisor at Olade, author of the manual "Olade Gender Equality Strategy" in 2013. Disseminates the gender issue in energy decisions and activities in the region . Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

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