A project implemented by Corporación Empresarial Ambiental (CAEM) and sponsored by the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has been awarded the Sustainable Development Goals Award under the non-business category by the Global Compact Network for Colombia and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce. The award honours outstanding practices by companies and civil society that contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
The project, "Mitigating black carbon and other pollutants from the bricks sector in Colombia," consolidates more than six years of work to mobilize the sector towards implementation of more sustainable production processes. This work has improved understanding of pollutant emissions from the brick sector sources and their impacts on climate and health and informed mitigation strategies that promote sustainable production that supports achieving many of the SDGs.
Traditional brick production has been identified as an important area where substantial emissions reductions can be achieved for black carbon (soot), toxics and other pollutants. Implementing more efficient technologies, mainly during the firing of bricks, can result in reductions in pollutant emissions of 10 to 50 per cent, depending on the process, scale and fuel used.
Regional and global climate benefits are expected, as well as improved air quality in areas where brick production takes place, leading to less personal exposure to harmful pollutants for producers, their families and nearby communities. Economic benefits for communities, including poverty reduction, are further potential gains in areas where more sustainable brick production is introduced and the quality of the bricks and overall market conditions are improved.
While the potential to reduce pollutant emissions from brick production is significant, the fragmented nature of the sector makes achieving these reductions a difficult task. Public agencies often lack a strong presence in the rural areas where kilns are most often found. And since the majority of brick kiln operators are in the informal sector, they are not regulated or taxed.
Colombia is one of few countries to have developed successful policies for clean brick production, and its approach has become a model for public policy, energy efficiency, innovation and financing interventions.
This project is part of a broader package of work that the the CCAC's Bricks Initiative is carrying out in Colombia, including:
- Supporting the development of a transferrable model “Colombian Model” to enable catalytic change within the brick sector in a manner that supports the continuous commitments to long-term emissions reduction goals
- Supporting the scaling-up of deployment and dissemination of public policy levers that enable climate action in the brick sector, and to advance field measurements of particle emissions and black carbon emissions from coal and biomass brick kilns.
- Buidling knowledge of new and increasingly cost-effective kiln technologies and improvements to the brick production process for a more sustainable sector.
The winners of this year's Sustainable Development Goals Award will be presented during an upcoming series of webinars. The schedule for these webinars will be announced soon on the Global Compact Network for Colombia website.