Which country leads green growth in Latin America?

Last week I had a meeting at the German Development Institute and we talked about Sustainability and Green Growth. Together with their project partners the Global Green Growth Institute (Seoul) and the consultancy firm PwC they are currently busy to design a “Green growth road map for Peru. The project aims to analyze the potential of green growth in this South American country and will to make a series of recommendations how Peruvian governments and other stakeholder can seize on these opportunities.

In this meeting I was asked if Peru or another Latin American country is able to lead the continent in a green growth strategically. Sincerely, Peru would not have been my first choice to look for a continental leader in green development. My first bids would have been Costa Rica as the pioneer of ecotourism or the giant Brazil this year’s host of Rio + 20 conference. But what can one say about Peru?

Without doubt Peru with its three different climate zone – the tropical Amazon jungle to the east; the arid coastal desert to the west; and the Andean mountains and highlands in the middle of the country – is rich in biodiversity and a potential attractor for eco-tourism. Other green business opportunities, like exotic ingredients for nouvelle food cooking or alternative medicine and pharmaceutics form the tropical forest, are already identified. Nevertheless the current economic model is not sensitive with this potential, because of the dominance of extractive industries like mining and fishery. The tension between natural richness and the threats of the current economic model may be a good motive to work on a strategy for a sustainable economy.

The problems are pressing especially in the mega-city of Lima, where large parts of the population is i.e. suffering respiratory diseases. Hopefully an increasing part of the population will articulate there environmental concerns, so that the politicians feel the pressure to prioritize a more sustainable way of the economy and also business identifies more opportunities for green growth.

The question lacks still an answer: Which country do you see leading green growth in Latin America?