This summer, Latin America will be front and centre on the world’s sustainability agenda, with two major international events planned for June: the G20 in Los Cabos, Mexico, which will have a strong focus on Green Growth, and the Rio+20 summit in Brazil. Given the region’s abundant natural resource base, dynamic growth projections and track record of innovation, can Latin American champions demonstrate the bold steps needed to reform the global economy while establishing a compelling commercial and policy framework for moving the world onto a sustainable growth path?

As the region continues its impressive growth, it is challenged to effectively manage its resource wealth and improve the material conditions for its 600 million citizens. With a growth agenda supported by overseas commodity demand, governments have taken important steps to manage natural resources in the midst of booming commodity cycles. But more needs to be done to increase resource productivity to ensure sustainable long-term growth.

Water scarcity is also an issue in some rapidly growing countries, and requires a strategic approach to sustainably manage this critical resource so as to facilitate growth and deliver the clean water demand that is needed. Latin America can also do more to capitalize on its global leadership in delivering renewable power. With 29% of total primary energy supply in Latin America coming from renewables, the region sits far above the OECD average of 6%, but has significant untapped opportunities to connect the 45 million citizens currently without access to energy.

To explore these issues in detail and build communities to design and implement sustainable solutions, the World Economic Forum is hosting its second annual Sustainable Growth Summit on 16 April as a lead-in to the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This meeting will feature stakeholders from Latin America and around the globe –including senior policy-makers, business leaders, thought leaders and international financial institutions – discussing the region’s sustainable growth challenges and opportunities in the mobility, energy, water, agriculture and financial sectors.

The meeting is also explicitly linked to the broader G20 process. Leaders from the Business 20 (B20) group of companies and organizations will provide recommendations and input to the G20 governments on Green Growth, food security and a host of other issues, seeking to identify collaborative public-private models for delivering the sustainable growth that is needed.

Watch this space: we will be blogging from the Sustainable Growth Summit and look forward to sharing insights and models arising from these discussions with the global community.

Author: Thomas Kerr is Director of Climate Change Initiatives, World Economic Forum.

Photo: A pilot drives his solar car during a promotional launch of the Atacama Solar Race 2012 in Santiago, January 11, 2012. Several solar cars from Latin America will race at the Atacama desert in November 2012, passing through Antofagasta, Calama and Iquique city, crossing a distance of around 1060 km (658 miles). REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado