INBAR’s diplomatic dialogue, themed around ‘Triangular cooperation, knowledge transfer and best practices’, included a visit to a bamboo and rattan product show room, speeches, videos, and a panel discussion about bamboo’s potential in the region.
18 March – On Thursday, diplomatic representatives from 15 countries attended the Latin America and Caribbean Ambassadors’ Dialogue at INBAR Headquarters, to discuss how bamboo can support post-COVID economic recovery and more sustainable development in the region. The theme of the event was ‘Triangular cooperation, knowledge transfer and best practices’.
Latin America and the Caribbean have abundant bamboo resources, and a long history of bamboo construction and craftsmanship. With more support and investment, the plant could play a larger role in low-carbon housing and product creation, and be a sustainable means of income for rural communities. Planting bamboo can also help protect the region’s forests, and offers important ecosystem services, such as restoring degraded land, conserving water and storing carbon.
Following a visit to the bamboo and rattan showroom, to see the kinds of products which can be made from bamboo, participants were welcomed by Professor Jiang Zehui, Co-Chair of the INBAR Board of Trustees. Professor Jiang expressed her hope that the Dialogue would provide a platform “to share successful experiences about using bamboo to promote green development, and discuss how to use bamboo to cope with the impacts of the pandemic.”
The participants were shown a number of videos and presentations. The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Ecuador, His Excellency (H.E.) Mr. Xavier Lazo Guerrero, gave a video address, and described the Ecuador government’s promotion of the bamboo: “We have a national strategy for the next 10 years; we have built bamboo houses; we have a credit line adapted to the crop, and technical assistance to producers, among other actions.” Through these efforts, “bamboo has allowed for the development of more than 500,000 people” who are indirectly and directly involved in the value chain.
INBAR’s Deputy Director General, Professor Lu Wenming, also welcomed all attendees, and presented an INBAR video, which introduced the history and uses of bamboo across Latin America and the Caribbean and explained INBAR’s work in the region.
Two bamboo businesses shared their expertise on how to establish a successful bamboo enterprise. Doris Wang, General Manager of China-based bamboo company Ningbo Shilin (‘Bambkin’, in English), introduced her business, which has become a major supplier to international companies such as IKEA. The CEO of Bambusa, a Spain-based bamboo products company, also provided a video introduction to their work.
Following the presentations and videos, a number of representatives from governments and international organisations took part in a spirited panel discussion about the future of bamboo in the region.
- Several diplomats described how bamboo was already being used to promote environmental protection and job creation in their countries. H.E. Mr. Carlos Larrea, the Ambassador of Ecuador, confirmed that the government will continue to promote Guadua bamboo planting and use bamboo to restore degraded land. H.E. Mr. Leonardo Kam, the Ambassador of Panama, mentioned that bamboo was an active part of the country’s ecosystem and forest protection work, particularly its 2015 national policy on ecosystem protection.
- E. Mr. Luis Felipe Quesada, the Ambassador of Peru, recounted some of the ways in which the national government has been promoting this plant, and raised the “crucial” importance of training and awareness-raising. He credited INBAR’s long-term work on technical assistance and knowledge sharing as having a real impact on his country’s bamboo sector.
- Representatives from the Spanish government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – two important donors to bamboo projects in Latin America and the Caribbean – were also present. H.E. Mr. Rafael Dezcallar, the Ambassador of Spain, discussed some of the models of cooperation which have helped scale up bamboo use in Latin America and the Caribbean, including training, promotion of a favourable regulatory environment, and workshop schools. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation recently funded a bamboo development project in Ecuador and Peru. Mr. Matteo Marchisio, from IFAD, described the ongoing IFAD-funded ‘Bamboozonia’ project in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as an example of how bamboo could build resilience among vulnerable communities, particularly smallholder farmers, to shocks like COVID-19.
- Two representatives from the government of China – Mr. Chen Luning from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Hu Yuanhui from China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration – spoke about how China can support the region to develop the bamboo sector. Mr. Chen stressed the importance of bamboo for diplomacy, calling it “a bridge to promote cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.” Mr. Hu stressed the importance of a favourable policy environment for strengthening the bamboo sector in countries across the Americas, and described how the government’s work has contributed to the Chinese sector becoming a multi-million dollar industry, which employs almost 10 million people.
In his closing remarks, H.E. Mr. Martin Mpana, Ambassador of Cameroon and representative of the INBAR Council of Member States, thanked all participants for their discussions. “Your statements have highlighted our common objective: we can all contribute to sustainable development using bamboo. Going forward, I hope we can tap into the enormous amount of ideas shared at this event.”
The Latin America and Caribbean Ambassadors’ Dialogue is the first in an INBAR series of events. For more information about upcoming events, browse the INBAR events list.
For more information about INBAR-led project work to promote bamboo for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean, read here. To find out more about INBAR’s 12 Member States across the Americas, click here.
The ten-minute video, ‘Bamboo: Identity, Development and Sustainability in Latin American and the Caribbean’, can be watched here: