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LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 2: The Future of WEF Solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Recap of the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab

To achieve the SDGs in developing countries like Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a proper management of natural resources such as water, energy, and food is needed. The LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab seeks to harness the potential of young innovators to ideate impactful home-grown solutions to water, energy and food security challenges.

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This article was first published on the Seedstars website on February 7th, 2023.

The United Nations has set ambitious goals to end poverty, reduce inequality, and promote economic growth with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, without proper management of natural resources such as water, energy, and food in developing countries like Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), these goals may not be achievable.

The World Economic Forum's Nexus approach helps us understand how all three of these resources are interconnected in terms of production and consumption.

Need for sustainable resource management in Latin America and the Caribbean

Globally, food production accounts for 70% of water use while primary energy production and power generation account for roughly 10%. In LAC countries alone the demand for total water is projected to increase by 75%, primary energy production by 50%, and agricultural production by 31% between 2020-2050 if a business-as-usual scenario continues.

With the added stress of drier and more variable climate conditions, water scarcity is becoming an increasingly pressing issue. Furthermore, there is a need to create new energy infrastructure and gradually replace high-carbon electricity production with low-carbon energy systems and renewable resources. In terms of food security, the region needs to find novel agricultural practices and sustainable food systems in order to increase access for all members of society.

This is where the importance of the WEF Nexus approach comes in as it relates to meeting these challenges and calls for strong institutional, public policy arrangements, and inter-regional/inter-state cooperation in order to adequately address them.

LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab addresses WEF Nexus challenges

To answer this call, SAFEEM and the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme, implemented by GIZ and funded by EU and BMZ, have joined forces to launch the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab with the ultimate aim to improve livelihoods and increase climate resilience in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab seeks to harness the potential of young innovators to ideate impactful home-grown solutions to water, energy and food security challenges.

Over the course of 2.5 days, 128 young innovators from across Latin America tuned in to a virtual platform to co-design and co-develop solutions that address the pressing issues related to water, energy, and food security (WEF) in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.

The LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab brought together some of the most talented and innovative young minds in the region to tackle the pressing WEF issues. 71 partners from our network joint forces for LATAM4WEF, as media partners and evaluators, from different countries in the region.

The event began with an introduction to the entrepreneurial mindset and basic techniques of entrepreneurship, followed by a series of workshops and sessions that included ideation, lean canvas, hypothesis testing, MVP development, and pitching.

The teams worked hard to develop their business pitches and product mock-ups, and at the end of the program, only 24 groups succeeded in finalizing a pitch that could be presented to a jury panel composed of WEF experts and mentors.

After careful deliberation, 5 winning teams emerged: Geokeri (Monserrat Meza Angeles), Proyecto Nace (Hector Sepulveda Vasquez), AiGROU(Pedro Jefferson Cabrera Rodríguez), FWF - Future With Flies (Nicolas Vargas), and LYNKS (Alejandro Pustowka). These 5 teams will now receive training in LATAM4WEF's Academy Programme, learning how to perfect their solutions and impress potential customers.

Next steps

From here, the best three candidates will be invited to the LATAM4WEF Matchmaking and Demo Day onsite event in Mexico City to be held on March 30, 2023. The exclusive event features experts from the World Economic Forum and other prestigious organizations as well as the chance for one team to participate in a Nexus conference in Germany organized by the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme in order to showcase the added value of integrated thinking for sustainable resources management.

We would like to extend a special thanks to our partners, experts, and mentors who supported the participants throughout the event. Their support and guidance were invaluable in helping the young innovators in this journey.

For more information about the LATAM4WEF, visit the LATAM4WEF website here.

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