Juan Carlos Mora, President of Bancolombia.NATHALIA ANGARITA
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Juan Carlos Mora, president of Bancolombia, Colombia’s largest bank, which also has offices in Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala, worries about the impact of political polarization on developments in Latin America. When asked by EL PAÍS Director Pepa Bueno about the region’s role and risks in the new global geopolitical and economic order, the manager, with more than 30 years of experience in the financial sector, said he was concerned about the trend in society Going to the extremes of the political spectrum harms the well-being of its citizens.
“I fear that political polarization will divert us from the fundamental goals of sustainable development,” said the President of Bancolombia in the discussion “The Challenge of Sustainability in the 21st Century: Economy, Society, Private Business and Environment” taking place at this Wednesday Bogota was held within the framework of the International Summit of Sustainability and Environmental Innovation organized by the PRISA Group (publisher of EL PAÍS), the CAF Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Externado University of Colombia and the Sustainable Development Society of Cundinamarca .
“Political differences are welcome, but we should agree on fundamental issues, and putting it into practice is not that difficult,” Mora said, urging a basic consensus on issues such as environmental protection. “I fear that politics will divert us from concrete responses to promote sustainable development for well-being. This is very serious in Latin America. We must progress in development in order to generate well-being. We have a population that we are leaving behind. How can we bring them to this level of comfort?” she insisted.
Juan Carlos Mora, in conversation with Pepa Bueno, director of the newspaper EL PAÍS. DIEGO CUEVAS
The director of Bancolombia, a bank with 30,000 employees whose objectives include “promoting sustainable economic development for the benefit of all”, defended that a bank can achieve a balance between its economic, social and environmental goals and offer products that Finance drives inclusion, which requires an initial investment but can be profitable.
Asked by Bueno about the paradoxes when thinking about sustainability and energy transition in countries like Colombia, which haven’t polluted as much as more developed countries and need to keep growing to achieve greater prosperity, Mora insisted on the need for a just transition to growth for all.
“What we cannot allow is that our environmental management stands in the way of the growth of Colombians,” said Bancolombia’s president. “And that’s a big paradox, because it’s not a lack of belief in what it can do. But let’s be realistic: a 1.5% reduction in per capita consumption in Colombia will not change the global situation,” he insisted, recalling that his country emits 1.5 million tons per capita, compared to 15 million tons per capita in the United States or the eight of Germany.
The Bancolombia executive said that this paradox, which President Gustavo Petro usually raises at international forums, is central to the debate on how to achieve a just energy transition.
“Colombia is a wonderful country full of opportunities. And from a sustainability standpoint, we all know the strength of its biodiversity,” said the President of Bancolombia, who also sees other advantages of the country such as the “fundamentally clean” energy generation matrix. But in the face of protecting forests and reducing emissions, Mora believes it is necessary to have some “complex debates” to speed up development, such as what to do with the mines: “Colombia has mineral deposits for the transition, that we have.” can be buried or used sustainably. These are debates that we need to have as a country. I don’t think it’s a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but that you have to have debates. We have to ask ourselves what we have to do.”
To break the cycle of inequality affecting Colombia while protecting the environment without hampering development, Mora advocates a global agreement to join forces and resources from development banks, private companies and the public sector.
Asked about the relationship of the Colombian banking sector to Colombia’s first left-wing government, that of Gustavo Petro, Mora stressed that he “deeply appreciates” the results of the democratic elections. “My experience of working with ministers has been very positive. There’s dialogue, there’s conversation,” he continued. And while he recognized that they do not always agree on the issues they deal with, what he values most is that the work of the public and private sectors proceeds in mutual trust. “We agree on the issues we need to address. What is missing is enough confidence to sit down, listen and look for wellness points. But in general, today we see a development in Colombia on economic issues that, although challenging, is developing positively,” he concluded.