The Future is Now: European Union and Latin American (EU-LAC)

The Future is Now: European Union and Latin American (EU-LAC)

Despite the already known tension across the globe, the EU-LAC summit is a success because it brings two important blocs back to the table to reconcile and seek a brighter future.

We hereby take the opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable work of Claudia Gintersdorfer, Head of the Americas Regional Division at the European External Action Service, whose leadership has been crucial in supporting more meaningful collaboration between the European Union and the Latin American region.

You can watch here her closing remarks at the Latin American Leaders Awards held in Vienna, Austria, where public and private sector leaders gather to strengthen partnerships and collaborations.

The European Union. (EU) and Latin American & Caribbean (LAC) states summit took place this week with a renovating partnership, The EU committed to investing over 45 billion euros to support the bloc’s reinforced partnership until 2027.

This is the first of its kind high-level summit in eight years, the opening session didn’t turn into a joyful reunion of long-lost friends, some LAC leaders brought century-old recriminations over colonialism and slavery across the Atlantic to the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, and added current-day complaints that Europe still doesn’t get how to treat former colonies as equal partners in the 21st century.

“Most of Europe was, and still is, overwhelmingly the lopsided beneficiary in a relationship in which our Latin America, and our Caribbean, have been and are unequally yoked,” said St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who holds the presidency of the 33-nation Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

European leaders acknowledged time and again that the exploitation of old had been fundamentally wrong, and insisted that the challenges of today can only be tackled effectively when EU and Latin American countries do so together.

“You have to realize that in the past, we didn’t pick up the phone when they had issues. So there is very serious irritation among many countries,“ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. “That we get this back in our face now is also proof that we, as Europe, sometimes acted a bit arrogantly.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the EU’s new Global Gateway Investment Agenda at the EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit. 

The summit, co-chaired by European Council President Charles Michel and Ralph Gonsalves, focuses on renewing the bi-regional partnership for peace and sustainable development. 

The investment agenda prioritizes sectors such as clean energy, critical raw materials, health, and education, and includes collaborations on critical raw materials in Argentina and Chile, telecoms networks in the Amazon region, public transport electrification in Costa Rica, and other projects across the region.

The leaders will also discuss multilateral cooperation, trade, economic recovery, climate change, research and innovation, and justice and security.

Central and South America revinvigorate confidence is boosted by a huge injection of funds from China and the knowledge that their critical raw materials will become ever more vital as the EU seeks to end an excessive reliance on Beijing’s rare mineral resources.

Annual trade between the two blocs has increased 39% over the past decade to 369 billion euros. EU investment in the region stood at 693 billion euros, a 45% increase over the past decade. The EU already has trade deals with 27 of the 33 LAC nations.

Several EU nations have powerful farm lobbies that seek to keep competition from beef producing nations like Brazil and Argentina away, specially with EU nations insisting on tougher environmental standards.

“The conclusion of the Mercosur-European Union Agreement is a priority and must be based on mutual trust, not threats,” said Brazil’s current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “The defence of environmental values, which we all share, cannot be an excuse for protectionism.”

Acknowledging the differences, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated “Our ambition is to settle any remaining differences as soon as possible.”

There is no doubt that EU-LAC future is brighter when both leaderships come and sit at the table. We kindly extend you an invitation to attend the Latin American Leaders Awards, the most promising celebration for public & private sector leaders of both regions.

Latin American Leaders Awards
Latin American Leaders Awards – Europe and Latin American partnerships and collaborations

New Agenda to strengthen EU’s partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean:

The New Agenda aims to recalibrate and renew bi-regional relations. It makes a series of proposals in key areas:

  • A renewed political partnership;
  • Strengthening common trade agenda;
  • Rolling out Global Gateway investment strategy to accelerate a fair green and digital transition and tackle inequalities;
  • Joining forces for justice, citizen security and the fight against transnational organised crime;
  • Working together to promote peace and security, democracy, rule of law, human rights and humanitarian aid;
  • Building a vibrant people-to-people partnership.

Key proposals

Political partnership: The Communication calls for renewed political engagement in a flexible and multi-layered approach: between the two regions, with individual Latin American and Caribbean countries, with sub-regions and in multilateral fora.

At bi-regional level, it proposes to enhance dialogue between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), with more regular Summits and a permanent coordination mechanism.

At sub-regional level, the Caribbean merits increased political attention notably through the finalisation of the post-Cotonou Agreement, in addition to engagement with other sub-regional groups such as Mercosur, the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Andean Community or the Pacific Alliance.

At the level of bilateral relations, relaunching Summits with strategic partners Brazil and Mexico, as well as establishing political dialogue mechanisms with a number of countries that do not currently have them are other priorities.

The Communication also proposes increased cooperation at multilateral level to address jointly regional and global challenges in line with our shared values, interests and objectives. Both regions have an interest in working together for a reform of the global financial architecture, in particular Multilateral Development Banks, and forging a New Global Financing Pact.

Trade: Bilateral and regional trade agreements are a key driver for growth and diversification strategies in both regions, and catalysts for sustainable and inclusive development. Thanks to these agreements, two-way trade in goods has increased by 40% from 2018 to 2022, with a total bilateral trade in goods and services of €369 billion in 2022.

Efforts are underway to sign and ratify the modernised agreement with Chile and to finalise the one with Mexico, as well as to conclude the agreement with Mercosur. Once trade agreements with Central America and Colombia-Peru-Ecuador are ratified by all EU Member States, strengthening the sustainability provisions of the agreements should also be considered.

Further enhancement of EU-LAC cooperation in the WTO, as well as strengthening our global efforts to diversify sources of raw materials and make global supply chains more resilient will benefit both regions. The EU will continue to work with LAC partners to help create the conditions for sustainable investment, including by jointly addressing the impact of European Green Deal legislation, and the support of open, stable, and predictable legal frameworks.

Global Gateway: Through the Global Gateway investment strategy, the EU can leverage quality investments to help address the regions infrastructure needs, while creating local added value and promoting growth, jobs and social cohesion. In addition to investments in hard infrastructure, Global Gateway supports human development, including youth and women’s empowerment, enhancing innovation, education and skills, as well as an enabling business and regulatory environment.

The EU-LAC Global Gateway Investment Agenda (GGIA) is a political commitment to work together, identifying fair green and digital investment opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will benefit from the open environment generated by trade and investment agreements and will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Under the Investment Agenda, which will be a key deliverable of the EU-CELAC Summit. investments will be mobilised for, amongst others, renewable energy and green hydrogen, critical raw materials, decarbonisation, and transport infrastructure projects, 5G and last-kilometre connectivity, digitalisation for public services, sustainable forest management, health manufacturing, education and skills and sustainable finance. 

Green Transition: There is significant potential for cooperation between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean towards climate neutral, clean and nature-positive economies. The region has unique potential in terms of biodiversity, natural resources, sustainable renewable energies, agricultural production and strategic critical raw materials. We both are committed to protecting biodiversity, halting deforestation, promoting more circular economies, improving waste and water management, increasing resource productivity and tackling pollution, as well as working towards climate neutral, clean and nature-positive economies. To meet these objectives, the Communication calls for a strengthened partnership on the green transition, including through increased dialogue, strengthening of regulatory frameworks and investments under Global Gateway.

Digital: The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean have a joint interest in pursuing digital policies that empower people and businesses to build a human-centric, sustainable and more prosperous digital future. 

The EU-LAC Digital Alliance was launched in March 2023 with the ambition to join forces for an inclusive and human-centric digital transformation in both regions and to develop bi-regional dialogue and cooperation across the full spectrum of digital issues. Both regions can benefit from further cooperating on a wide range of areas such as connectivity, regulatory dialogue, free and safe data flows and space.

Sustainable economic growth for human development: The Communication puts forward proposals to step up joint efforts towards a robust and sustainable socio-economic recovery that promotes equality and social inclusion, notably through education and skills-building, with a particular focus on women and youth.

It calls for increased cooperation in research and innovation, making full use of opportunities under Horizon Europe Programme, and expanding joint work on health security as well as sustainable food systems.

Citizen security, justice, human rights and rule of law: The Communication proposes to consolidate and strengthen the partnership on justice and security to address common challenges posed by transnational organised crime, including the drugs trade and human trafficking.

It stresses the importance of reinforcing cooperation on human rights, including non-discrimination and gender equality, and makes the case for a more prominent protection for human rights defenders and journalists. The Communication also proposes joint efforts to promote democracy, rule of law and good governance, as well as global peace and security.

A vibrant people-to-people partnership: People are at the centre of this bi-regional partnership. Engagement with youth in Latin America and the Caribbean will increase through initiatives such as country-level Youth Sounding Boards.

The Communication proposes to intensify collaboration on education and research for example with key exchange programmes such as Erasmus+, promote circular mobility by drawing on the Skills and Talents package, encouraging intercultural networks and joint initiatives such as the first ever EU’s participation as guest of honour in the 2023 International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico.


The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean are key allies to defend and strengthen a rules-based international system. Together, we represent almost one third of the membership of the United Nations (UN). We are strong supporters of international law and the UN Charter.

The region is vital to the ecological balance of the planet, with over 50% of the planet’s biodiversity. The region is also a major food producer, accounting for 14% of global food production and 45% of net international agri-food trade, and a renewable energy powerhouse (its generation mix has the largest share of renewables in the world, amounting to 61% in 2021).

The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean are close and reliable trade and investment partners, with one of the world’s densest networks of political, cooperation and trade agreements, covering 27 of the 33 LAC countries.

The holy land is ready for tourism

The holy land is ready for tourism

We are honoured to extend you this invitation to become our special guest in our event “Holy-Land Recovery Program” to be held the following 22nd of September, 2021 at 16:00 CET.

The event aims at connecting the best touristic providers across the Holy Land, with worldwide travellers, pilgrims & tour operators across the world.

The Holy Land is one of the most beautiful destinations around the world with an incredible offer for any person looking for a truly holistic, spiritual and life-changing experience.

Limited Spots. Confirm by email to:, or

By Whatsapp: +43 677 61 73 5010, or +43 676 36 49 863

What you can expect from this event:
• The Holy Land as a top tourism destination.
• Beyond tourism, life-changing experiences.
• Reliable partners in the Holy Land.
• What to expect in the Holy Land.

Date: Wednesday September 22
Time: 16:00 CET
Place: ZOOM

16:00 – 16:15. WELCOME by Dr. Salah Abdel Shafi, Ambassador Mission of the State of Palestine to Austria and Slovenia
16:15 – 17:00. Holy-Land as Top Destination Worldwide by HLITOA.
17:00 – 18:00. PANEL – CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN TIMES OF COVID. Travis Pittman – CEO Tourradar Austria
18:00 – 19:00. Networking: in breaking rooms.

Hello, my name is Lorena Gómez, I am a human passionate for the planet, but also a tourism consultant with over 15 years of international experience. Contact me on Linkedin here.

Airbnb partners with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to offer free accommodation for domestic violence survivors

Airbnb has announced it will partner with Safe Ireland, with the support of Women’s Aid, to assist domestic violence survivors in Ireland at a crucial time when emergency accommodation is particularly needed.

Airbnb will work through its hotel partners to provide temporary accommodation, free of charge, when specialist emergency accommodation (refuge) is not available.

Domestic violence services throughout the country will assess the safety needs of survivors before facilitating bookings into the temporary hotel accommodation.

All those accommodated as part of this unique initiative will continue to be closely linked in and supported by domestic violence specialists.

Safe Ireland is the national policy and services hub for 39 domestic abuse member services.

Safe Ireland will coordinate the initiative with its frontline services and support from the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline. All accommodation costs are sourced and paid for by Airbnb and HotelTonight, part of the Airbnb family.

The partnership comes at a crucial time as Ireland moves towards opening up fully following the COVID-19 lockdown. Capacity in domestic violence specialist accommodation is down approximately 25% because of the need to ensure safe social distancing and to allow for isolation units if needed.

At the same time, domestic violence services are reporting a surge in calls and needs, particularly since the country started to ease restrictions.

Many services are reporting that they are responding to the double trauma of lockdown and months of abuse with many seeing a particular increase in women with multiple children coming forward and looking for crisis accommodation in the community.

The timely partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid has received the backing of Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who has been a leading advocate on domestic violence issues in Ireland.

Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said, “We want victims of this horrific crime to know that they are a priority for us and that support is always available. I welcome this valuable new initiative which complements the important work that the Government has undertaken in this area since the start of the pandemic.

We are doing everything we can to protect and support all victims of domestic violence, especially now as Ireland re-opens after Covid-19.”

Caitriona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland, said,  “We welcome the community leadership shown by Airbnb with this partnership. The pandemic has shone a light onto the epidemic of domestic violence that continues in this country.

It has also sparked an incredible outpouring of empathy, understanding and support for survivors trapped with abusers. The security of safe accommodation is essential for women and children to be able to make their first step towards freedom and recovery. This generous contribution by Airbnb means that we will be able to support many more women as they come forward following lockdown.”

Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, said, “This is a really welcome, collaborative initiative bringing together the generosity of Airbnb and dedicated specialist domestic abuse organisations to meet the needs of women and children forced to flee their homes because of violence and abuse.

The Women’s Aid National Helpline responded to 39% more calls during the crisis compared to the same period in 2019. We are delighted to be assisting referrals through our National Freephone Helpline so that this supplementary accommodation is available 24/7 where refuge may not be an option.”

Jean Hoey, Public Policy Lead for Airbnb in Ireland, said:  “In recent months throughout the pandemic, most of us have been confined to the safety of our homes. For those in abusive situations however, that environment can feel more like a prison.

We are proud to support the heroic efforts of Women’s Aid, Safe Ireland and local frontline services by offering temporary safe havens for survivors right across the country.”

Similar initiatives were recently launched by Airbnb in the US.


Top 10: systems thinking skills to cultivate in uncertain & tumultuous times

The discipline of systems thinking is more than just a collection of tools and methods – it’s also an underlying philosophy.

Many beginners are attracted to the tools, such as causal loop diagrams and management flight simulators, in hopes that these tools will help them deal with persistent business problems. But systems thinking is also a sensitivity to the circular nature of the world we live in; an awareness of the role of structure in creating the conditions we face; a recognition that there are powerful laws of systems operating that we are unaware of; a realization that there are consequences to our actions that we are oblivious to.

In general, the systems thinking perspective requires curiosity, clarity, compassion, choice, and courage. This approach includes the willingness to see a situation more fully, to recognize that we are interrelated. 

Ask yourself, how can I analyze the situation all of us are facing in order to have a better impact in my society?  Here we compile 10 recommendations by Dr Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Founder of Climate Interactive. 


1. Multisolving.

Do not sub-estimate any effort, any donation, claim, or a petition signed is important now more than ever:

How can my one action accomplish multiple goals? Micro: a donation to the local food pantry helps feed my community now and strengths our civic infrastructure for the future. Macro: a green stimulus could fight inequity, climate change & economic shocks.

2. Repurposing.

How can the structures we’ve built contribute to well-being now, under changed circumstances?

While students are at home, the school bus delivers lunch to the school bus stops throughout town. Unemployment system reshaped to also include freelancers. Also: Hotels used quarantine centers. Production lines retooled to make ventilators. Distilleries making hand sanitizer.

We are witnessing now collective efforts that confirm the power of our human creativity.

3. Visioning.

What do I really want to see in my life, my town, the world?

Daring to picture that in vivid detail even while having no idea how to get there. Without these visions, what are you multisolving or repurposing for?

Envisioning a renewed life fitting into a new world is key to guide your efforts. 

4. Orienting by ethics.

The practice of navigating by a moral compass. Ethics are ‘rules for what works’ in complex systems. You are unique and precious and so is every other being. No one is safe until everyone is safe. Equity is not optional.

In this time of uncertainty and systems change, guide your decisions by my human values.

5. Balancing.

Keeping steady. Self-regulation at all scales. Am I tired, hungry, afraid, been online too long? Is my community over-focused on the short-term?

Attending to any parameter (number of laid off workers comes to mind or annual GHG emissions) blasting out of control.

6. Growing.

Tapping the power of reinforcing feedback. Taking ideas and innovations to scale. Stories, possibilities and examples (and also warnings and lessons learned) spreading, by word of mouth, at the speed of zoom.

7. Action-learning.

Up against problems that are also growing exponentially, delay is the enemy. Acting, even if you don’t know everything (or even very much) is preferable to paralysis or ‘wait and see’. But act humbly, knowing that you don’t know nearly everything, and embracing and sharing your mistakes. Design the learning loop (the after action review) into everything.

8. Truth-telling.

You can’t navigate one crisis, let alone multiple intersecting ones with a distorted information stream. Accurate timely data (both numerical and qualitative) are needed more than ever. And pay attention to who tells the stories and what (and who) they include. These times call for deep reflection and honest sharing and allegiance to leaders who do the same, and who thus will not look certain, or ‘strong’ by the standards of the recent past.

9. Cultivating coherence.

the property where across scales and domains the same set of organizing principles are applied. This allows for improvisation and spreading of innovation. And those shared organizing principles come from #3 and #4 vision and ethics.

10. Connecting.

Tapping the power of emergence, where new connections lead to the emergence of new patterns of behavior in systems. A super-power on this list because it amplifies all the others.

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

Co-founder co-director @climateinteract

Multisolving for people and climate.

The Imperative of Ending Wildlife Crime

There is no international legal framework for cooperative global and national action to catch and punish serious wildlife criminals, nor is there an agreed definition of wildlife crime.

Reports that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak originated from illegally sourced wildlife, including pangolin, has given a new sense of urgency to ending wildlife crime. Wildlife crime is not new, yet, remarkably, there is no global legal agreement addressing it.

This is despite the devastating impact it has on wildlife, local communities, national economies, security, public health and entire ecosystems, and its links to HIV Aids, Ebola, SARS, MERS and now COVID -19.

We are not talking about subsistence poaching, which is a separate and distinct issue to be resolved locally, but rather, large-scale criminal activity organized transnationally and fueled by corruption.

A recent World Bank report estimates the value of illegally traded species at US$200 billion, when all wildlife, including fish and timber not listed under CITES are included.

Saving wildlife, and, as we now see, ourselves, means stopping an illegal commerce that shifts thousands of tonnes of contraband, worth billions of dollars and leaves death, destruction, and instability in its wake. Ending wildlife crime requires a new level of international cooperation that assures criminals feel the long arm of the law. The time for bold action is now.


No longer a tenable solution

Currently and by default, we have turned to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a trade-related conservation convention from the 1970’s, to serve as the de facto legal instrument for combating serious wildlife crimes.

The problem is that CITES wasn’t designed to deal with wildlife crime. It was meant to regulate wildlife trade to avoid over-exploitation of threatened species.

While a critically important trade convention, it was never designed to fight crime. CITES has its limitations. It only applies to species listed in its appendices – that is 36,000 of the world’s eight million species – and to the cross-border movement of specimens.

It doesn’t require illegal trade to be criminalized, nor does it apply to poaching. However, in the absence of any alternative, over the past decade, CITES has been leveraged to crank up the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Even with its limitations, CITES has had some success in this regard. It led the creation of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) in 2010[i], which was welcomed by CITES Parties in 2013.

In parallel to the Consortium, the UN General Assembly passed a first-ever Resolution on Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2015, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) released the first-ever UN World Wildlife Crime Report in 2016. Over the years, CITES has seen the deeper engagement of police and customs agents, and action by key industry sectors, including finance, transport, and tourism.

Yet, a serious underlying problem remains, one for which we are now paying a heavy price. There is no international legal framework for cooperative global and national action to catch and punish serious wildlife criminals, nor is there an agreed definition of wildlife crime. This inhibits global enforcement efforts and jeopardizes the lives of park rangers, creates insecurity and undermines conservation schemes. It robs local communities of their resources and it elevates the risk of future disease outbreaks like COVID-19.


Transnational wildlife crimes deserve the attention of the criminal justice system and deployment of their resources.

Given the scale and seriousness of wildlife crime and its grave implications for countries, their ecosystems and species, and for humanity overall, it can and must be dealt with by police, prosecutors and the judiciary – not by individuals such as conservationists or park rangers acting alone.

We need an unequivocal political message, supported by the right legal framework, that organized, transnational wildlife crimes deserve the attention of the criminal justice system and deployment of their resources.

The Global School for Social Leaders is a multi-awarded NGO specialized in holistic & disruptive education, Join us!


We must move with the times

The time has come for a new global agreement on wildlife crime.

This agreement can be housed under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNCTOC), as has been done for other serious crimes such as human trafficking. Such an agreement should oblige countries to prohibit the import of any wildlife, supported by criminal sanctions, unless the importer can prove it was legally obtained.

This idea was put forward at the recent ‘End Wildlife Crime’ event at the House of Lords, which promoted a new agreement on wildlife crime that criminalizes the importation, distribution and consumption of illegally sourced wildlife. What is proposed is not unlike the approach taken in some countries, such as in the US under the Lacey Act, and what some countries have in place for certain timber imports.

Doing things differently requires us to take a fresh look at historic approaches to conservation and question their ongoing efficacy in a changing world. Making bold but necessary changes will prove difficult and stir up resistance. But the status quo won’t do; nor will incremental changes. It’s abundantly clear that we need to scale up the fight against the transnational, organized criminals who are stripping countries bare of their precious wildlife and creating havoc locally and globally. To stop them we need to get police and prosecutors hot on their trail.

Global responses to biodiversity loss must move with the times and if we can blend taking a hard line against transnational organized criminals, while opening up new opportunities for local communities in and around biodiverse-rich areas, then we will not only end wildlife crime but see wildlife, ecosystems and local communities thrive.


John E. Scanlon

Special Envoy, African Parks (Secretary-General of CITES 2010-2018)