Imperial College London

Students lead debate on Latin American sustainable development


Professor Maggie Dallman opening the Latin American Symposium

Imperial students and researchers presented their ideas to tackle the challenges of sustainable development in Latin America.

The symposium, Shaping the future of Latin America, was attended by nearly 130 delegates including several Latin American ambassadors to the UK, science attachés and researchers with an interest in the continent.

The Ambassadors of Chile, Honduras, Paraguay and Nicaragua, and Embassy staff from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico saw presentations from leading researchers such as Inty Grønneberg, a PhD researcher recently awarded ‘Ecuadorian inventor of the year’ and Dr Adam Hawkes, Director of the Sustainable Gas Institute.

Latin American Ambassadors with Imperial leaders

The event, which was organised by the Latin American Society, was opened by Vice President (International) Maggie Dallman who highlighted some of Imperial’s strong links with Latin America.

Professor Dallman said: “Imperial’s excellence arises from attracting talented people from all across the globe. We know that the best science comes from international collaborations, sharing ideas and knowledge between cultures and across borders.

“While others are trying to build walls – we want to strengthen our relationship with Latin America.

“We want our doors to remain open to students, collaborations and colleagues from around the world. To solve the most pressing global challenges we will need scientists here to work with colleagues in Latin America and around the world.”

Development challenges

Ernesto Santibanez Borda, Chair of the Symposium and Earth, science and engineering student at Imperial said: “Latin America holds a quarter of the world's forests, vast natural resources and biodiversity.

“They have a duty to the environment. Latin American economics are facing a number of challenges such as new regulations and policies, which show increasing interest from society in Latin America.

“Developing no matter what does not seem to be acceptable any longer. Green taxes and environmental regulation are just a few examples of unprecedented pressure businesses are being submitted to to tackle climate change and pollution.”

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart

Keynote speaker Sir Mark Moody Stuart, Director of Saudi Aramco and former Chair of Shell spoke about the challenges for sustainable development. He talked about themes such as the role of government, alliances between civil society and business and others, corruption, climate change, corporate responsibility and the UN sustainable development goals. Sir Mark noted: “No sector can deliver solutions by themselves.”

Other speakers included Alyssa Gilbert, Director of Policy and Translation at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, and Dr Costas Velis from the University of Leeds.

Students and Ambassadors meet

PhD student Moisés Gómez Soto, President of the Latina American Society, said: “The Latin American Society is delighted and honoured to create a forum to discuss and be surprised by the latest research on Sustainable Development in Latin America. This initiative is in accordance with our commitment, as students and researchers dedicated to find innovate and sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

"This event is also part of our effort to bring academia, industry and stakeholders together towards the challenges that the Latin American region is facing and also to present some of the best and most innovate solutions in order to tackle environmental problems and to achieve a more sustainable development in the region."

Latin American links

Imperial has strong links with Latin America. Imperial scientists publish thousands of research papers with partners in Latin America every year.

Professot Maggie Dallman welcoming Latin American guests

Imperial also has a growing and engaged Latin American community here with over 160 students – including several scholarship awardees from Chile and Mexico.

PhD researcher Inty Grønneberg was recently praised by the President of Ecuador for developing a way to clear plastic from our rivers and oceans before it can enter the marine ecosystem.

The Sustainable Gas Institute is a unique academic partnership between the UK and Brazil. It leads research and defines innovative technologies that enable natural gas to play a key role in a low carbon world.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Energy (SENER) and Imperial recently announced a £10 million programme to fund projects in fuel cells, carbon capture and renewables. The collaboration will fund 13 projects through research and training.


Stephen Johns

Stephen Johns
Communications and Public Affairs

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