Virtual seminars on drinking water and sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by ECLAC and ARESEP
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) of Costa Rica organized two regional virtual seminars on March 17 and 18, 2021, about access to drinking water and sanitation, and the water tariffs policies of the sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Their main objective was to strengthen capacities in the field of water and sanitation policies, as well as the identification of technical assistance and training needs of the countries of the region.
Both events hosted around 75 attendees, with representatives from ARESEP as well as from different institutions from other countries in the region, including the Guayaquil Municipal Potable Water and Sewerage Company (EMAPAG) of Ecuador, the Sanitary Services Regulatory Entity (ERSSAN) of Paraguay, the National Authority of Public Services of Paraguay, the Regulatory Unit of Energy and Water Services (URSEA) of Uruguay, the Superintendence of Sanitary Services (SISS) of Chile and the National Authority of Public Services (ASEP) of Panama.
The welcome was in charge of Roberto Jiménez, General Regulator of ARESEP, and Jeannette Sánchez, Director of the Natural Resources Division of ECLAC, who emphasized the relevance of the drinking water and sanitation sector to achieve sustainable development, and the socioeconomic and environmental benefits that better management of these sectors in the region entails. Silvia Saravia Matus and Marina Gil, from ECLAC's Water and Energy Unit, moderated both seminars; registering the different concerns and requests for technical assistance by the attendees and the institutions they represent.
Seminar 1 "Regulatory Policies and Tariffs in the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean"
The first day was focused on the presentation of the report on "Tariff Policies for Drinking Water and Sanitation" developed by ECLAC, and the presentation was given by Diego Fernández (ECLAC consultant). The objective of this study was to analyze the current state of tariff regulation for the recovery of water and sanitation costs in LAC. The sample considers 10 countries in the region (El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina) based on the variety of regulatory strategies, organizational diversity, and geographic distribution.
In the region there is a large inequality gap in access to potable water and sanitation services, urban-rural and between quintiles, where 2.5 out of 10 people do not have access to safely managed drinking water and the poorest quintile pay proportionally up to two times more than the richest quintile for the provision of the service. The conceptual framework for the tariffs analysis was presented, followed by a comparative analysis of the tariffs structures, regulatory mechanisms, and residential bills for selected providers from the sample of 10 countries in the region. Among the recommendations provided by the report, they highlight the need for a technically designed methodology and public knowledge about the way in which the costs and tariffs of services are determined, including the application of cross-subsidies, operating costs, maintenance, and investment in infrastructure. Indicating that the payment for the service of those who have the capacity should be promoted. In the same way, it is suggested to have an independent regulatory body and separate the roles of politics, regulation, control, and operation.
The different requests for assistance and training that LAC countries require were accepted, and through a virtual survey, virtual training courses were the option chosen by 35% of the attendees.
Seminar 2 "Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean: challenges and opportunities"
The second day was dedicated to the presentation of the report on "Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities" developed by ECLAC, and the presentation was given by Homero Paltán (ECLAC consultant). The objective of this study was, firstly, to describe the current situation of the sanitation service in the region in terms of the evolution of coverage and progress in infrastructure; subsequently, the main opportunities to adopt approaches such as the circular economy, resilience, or new technologies to advance towards the achievement of SDG 6 and its role as a cross-cutting factor in the 2030 Agenda were presented. Emphasis was placed on the main challenges and opportunities of the sector at the level of governance and financing.
Despite important efforts in recent years, in LAC only 37% of the urban population has access to safely managed sanitation services, with significant disparities between countries and between urban and rural sectors; indicating that the largest coverage gap relative to SDG 6 in the region is in sanitation. This situation represents not only challenges but also opportunities to move towards sustainable, resilient, and circular sanitation systems; through the adoption of new cutting-edge approaches (resilience and circular economy), the strengthening of governance and financing mechanisms, and the incorporation of technologies from the 4.0 revolution. Proper attention to these approaches offers opportunities, not only in terms of sanitation services and economic income but also in strengthening the focus of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, to achieve the SDGs and other environmental and climate goals.
Finally, the attendees were asked about the aspects related to the circular economy and sanitation in which they are interested in continuing to work in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the most outstanding results were tariffs, the systematization of successful experiences, and investment strategies in the context of the circular economy and safely managed sanitation.
17 Mar 2021
Seminar 1: Regulatory Policies and Tariffs in the Drinking Water and Sanitation Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean13:30 to 14:30
- Sr. Roberto Jiménez Gómez (ARESEP), Sra. Jeannette Sánchez (CEPAL)Palabras de bienvenida autoridadesDiego Fernández (Consultor de CEPAL)Políticas regulatorias y tarifas en el sector de agua potable y saneamiento de América Latina y el CaribeSilvia Saravia Matus (CEPAL)Ronda de discusión y comentariosMarina Gil (CEPAL)Espacio para solicitudes de asistencia técnica y capacitación de CEPAL para los países de ALCSilvia Saravia Matus (CEPAL)Cierre del seminario y próximos pasos
18 Mar 2021
Seminar 2: Sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities13:30 to 14:30
- Sr. Roberto Jiménez Gómez (ARESEP) , Sra. Jeannette Sánchez (CEPAL)Palabras de bienvenida autoridadesHomero Paltán (Consultor de CEPAL)El Saneamiento en América Latina y el Caribe: Desafíos y OportunidadesSilvia Saravia Matus (CEPAL)Ronda de discusión y comentariosMarina Gil (CEPAL)Espacio para solicitudes de asistencia técnica y capacitación de CEPAL para los países de ALCSilvia Saravia Matus (CEPAL)Cierre del seminario y próximos pasos