CSI Forum 2014

Cartagena, Colombia; 16 & 17 September 2014

The CSI Forum 2014 welcomed almost 100 participants and delegates from all around the world in the city of Cartagena de Indias, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that guards its beauty & charm in its walls, balconies, cobbled streets and more importantly, dazzling natural surroundings.

Hosted by CSI member Cementos Argos, the theme of this year's forum, in its 8th edition, was on "Conserving Nature's Foundations: Biodiversity & Ecosystems". The 2-day programme opened in honour of Gabriel Vallejo, the recently appointed Colombian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, joined by Jorge Mario Velásquez, CEO of Cementos Argos, both introduced by Philippe Fonta, Managing Director, WBCSD-CSI.

Through the participation of a wide range of expert speakers from CSI members, government officials, conservation NGOs, consultants & academics, the Forum constituted a real opportunity to have very rich exchange discussions on experiences and expertise on a variety of biodiversity topics all of which are highly relevant to the cement sector. The full agenda is available for download, encompassing links to all the presentations.

In the different sessions throughout the forum, a consistent voice was echoed to support for an integrated approach in managing biodiversity and ecosystems, i.e. with environment fully combined with social and economic considerations and strategy. Speakers and participants are in consensus that human beings and populations should be at the heart of it and we need to shift our focus from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In addition, acknowledging that understanding, measuring and managing the potential impacts (positive & negative) on ecosystems remains high priority for the cement sector and all responsible corporate citizens, we need to have a good set of data with agreed indicators and the right toolkit & guidance to identify associated risks and opportunities.

Participants all appreciated the platform to exchange learnings from case studies and good practices: one of the key events of this Forum was also the trip to the Barú Island through which the participants could see and experience a practical case of enhanced management of biodiversity through partnerships, under the leadership of Cementos Argos. It is only through enhancing communications, raising awareness and capacity building that genuine trust can be gradually built. Partnerships (instead of opposition) can be built across sectors, with NGOs, policy-makers and the community at large and the Forum was a perfect illustration of this collaborative approach.

See below a photo album capturing some highlights of the event.