Latin America & Caribbean Regional Policy Meeting Dedicated to a “Public Pathway” Approach to a Just Energy Transition in the Global South 
May 30, 2024
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Latin America & Caribbean Regional Policy Meeting Dedicated to a “Public Pathway” Approach to a Just Energy Transition in the Global South 

Calling for Public Energy, Latin America and Caribbean Unions Assemble in Bogotá for the TUED South Meeting on a pro-public Energy Transition

Bogotá, Colombia — Leaders from 23 trade unions, two Global Union Federations, five allied research centres, and progressive government representatives from across 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Bogotá, Colombia, between May 6-9 to exchange experiences and consider ways to promote a “public pathway” approach to a just energy transition in the region and the Global South.

The goal of the gathering was to strengthen the policy proposals laid out by the TUED South platform for the context of Latin America and the Caribbean. TUED South is a South-led trade union platform focused on building a response to the kind of “green structural adjustment” proposals that are today being pushed by the rich countries, the OECD, the IMF, and the World Bank. 

Preceding the regional meeting, TUED South held a national workshop focused on exploring the specific challenges of the host country, Colombia. The workshop was co-hosted by Colombia’s national centres CUT, CGT and CTC, as well as energy unions including Sintracarbon, USO, and Sintraelecol.  

Broad Trade Union Representation

The 3-day, 100-person, meeting included union representatives from: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Grenada, Guyana, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as strategic allies from Canada, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, and others. 

The workshop and 3-day policy meeting comes at a time when there is growing support for a public pathway approach to energy transition and climate protection that can address the failures of the current ineffective and regressive profit-focused policies. 

Progressive Ministries Explore Public Approaches 

In Bogotá, representatives from progressive administrations including Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia illustrated contemporary examples of public alternatives to "green structural adjustment." Together with trade unions and research allies, progressive administrations can strategically advance a global public goods agenda. 

The Panels and discussion groups ranged in topics to include the various challenges and opportunities facing a pro-public energy transition in the region: 

  • Transition strategies for resource-dependent economies such as specific coal regions in Colombia or oil-dependent Guyana. Strategies include Sintracarbon’s strikes (and strike threats) to hold multinational mining giants accountable for their attempts to abandon their contracts and close mines without being held responsible for the social and environmental crisis they leave behind. The unions have worked with the Petro administration to push for enforceable guardrails during and related to mine closures, including workforce reconversion, just transition pensions, and public institution training programs. 
  • Support for the creation and democratisation of publicly owned companies such as Ecominerales in Colombia, the National Lithium Company in Chile, ENDE in Bolivia, ICE in Costa Rica, among others.
  • Support for a strong relationship between Public Banks, trade unions, and energy transition finance policies as part of a larger alternative and rejection to the debt-incurring Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) being proposed in Colombia.

Significant Political Objectives 

Among the political objectives reached: 

  • Strengthening of the relationship between TUED South and allies in progressive administration of the host country, Colombia. The meeting benefited from the strategic insights of Congressional senators, representatives, vice-ministers and agency directors of: the Ministry of Mining and Energy, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Labor, the Finance Ministry, political parties affiliated to the Pacto Histórico, and the National Mining Agency. TUED South is looking forward to continuing to build towards a Public Pathway with these strategic allies.
  • Research centres announced the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean “Public Pathway Research Network” to complement the TUED South Framing document with rigorous South-based research, analysis and consideration of action-oriented programmatic options for a pro-public energy transition. In the short-term, the network is seeking funding to draft a report in order to present initial findings at the TUED South Buenos Aires meeting. Research centres include: INEEP of Brazil, COMUNA of Uruguay, Cipame of Colombia, TUED researchers, University of Chile, PLADES of Perú, and other global centres such as the Transnational Institute (TNI) and CICTAR dedicated to tax justice.   
  • Trade unions identified strategic next steps for applying pressure where progressive administrations govern. For example, the need to revisit existing trade union programs/demands to update with pro-public demands. Where neoliberal or rightwing administrations are in power, the need to resist privatisation plans and build regional and inter-regional solidarity. 

The meeting in Bogotá was supported by unions in the TUED network, the Transnational Institute (TNI), 128 Collective, and the School of Labor and Urban Studies, City University of New York (CUNY SLU). Photos from the meeting have been uploaded to this Google folder.

Trade Union Reports

View initial trade union reports from the Bogotá meeting here: 


“The TUED South meeting in Bogotá underscored the strategic necessity of TUED’s work. On the one hand, progressive government representatives are saying: “We need popular pressure from the streets to support our energy reforms.” On the other hand you have allied researchers and academics saying “There is overwhelming evidence that the ‘privatise to decarbonise’ route is failing (perhaps as intended) to meet climate targets and energy access objectives.” Finally, you have the labour and social movements saying “We have an alternative and we’re strategically positioned to fight for it.” These forces, coordinated across Latin America and the Caribbean with the support of TUED, have the political imagination, vision, and power to push for the transformative Public Pathway to a Just Energy Transition that we need. It’s go time.” —Lala Peñaranda, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) 

“The Public Pathway approach is the only just, equitable and fair approach to energy transition. If we want to ensure energy democracy and energy sovereignty then we must reject the neoliberal privatise to decarbonize and embrace a public pathway approach. Our countries are Re-publics NOT Re-privates so we have to reclaim and restore our Republics and its public energy systems.” - Ozzi Warwick, Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) of Trinidad and Tobago 

"The call for public ownership of energy systems is gaining popular momentum for many reasons. For example, private utilities in Barbados benefit from public subsidies while still requesting a raise in tariffs and providing reduced reliability." - Sandra Massiah, PSI Caribbean 

“The TUED South Regional Policy Meeting in Bogotá was essential to consolidate and advance several simultaneous local and national debates that are taking place throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. Bringing together key leaders in one room is essential to create a collective space for reflection. The information shared and discussions allow us to identify patterns of lack of just transition planning and policies, threats of privatisation, and identify opportunities to intervene more decisively and collectively in the region.” - Euan Gibb, Public Services International (PSI) Inter-America Office

‘The TUED South Meeting for Latin American and the Caribbean held in Bogotá was a clear political success. In the first instance, it allowed workers and allies to stimulate and strengthen the organisational capacity of the labour movement around the Public Pathway,  particularly in energy matters.  The meeting also allowed us to exchange analysis across capacities, contexts, union representation and with a lot of accumulated knowledge. This allows us a first evaluation that TUED South in Latin America and the Caribbean is on the right track to have global influence on the argument for reclaiming and restoring the present and future to public ownership with social control.  Those of who attended the Bogotá meeting from Argentina have returned home us the satisfaction that we are going to hold the Second TUED South Interregional Meeting later this year in November 19-21 with high energy, ambitious expectations, and with the knowledge that we have accumulated a lot of experience in TUED South through our meetings in Nairobi, Johannesburg, and now Bogotá. The TUED South meeting in Buenos Aires is committed to transforming our unjust realities towards a pro-public alternative with South-South cooperation and social justice.” —Adolfo ‘Fito’ Aguirre, Argentine Workers' Central - Autonomous (CTA-A) 

“The TUED South meeting in Bogota exceeded TNI's expectations as co-organisers of this event. The breadth and complexity of the passionate exchanges between trade unionists, academic researchers and representatives of social organisations and governments from so many countries in the region motivates us to continue working towards energy democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean. As pending tasks on the road to the global TUED Sur meeting in Buenos Aires, I take with me the need to deepen our programmatic proposal on 'green' industrial policy and the financing of the energy transition. This is a crucial moment in the history of the region, between the risk of going back to the era of authoritarianism and privatisation represented by the far-right government in Argentina and the challenge of moving towards democratic proposals focused on the recovery of the public sector, as proposed by the government of change in Colombia. As we say in Uruguay: Arriba los que luchan!” - Daniel Chavez, the Transnational Institute (TNI) 

“CUT Brazil highlights the importance of coordinating at a regional level in Latin America and the Caribbean. Working at a regional level in defence of the Public Pathway is crucial to resisting the neoliberal policies that have weakened state-owned energy companies. Regional cooperation strengthens energy sovereignty and promotes democratisation, guaranteeing sustainable development that prioritises people's needs over private interests. CUT Brazil also welcomes this coordination, regionally and globally, into COP 30 in 2025, which will take place in Belém do Pará, Brazil, the first COP to be held in the Amazon, and the G20 & L20 meetings later this year.” - Fernando Vivaldo, CUT Brazil 

“Trade unionism in the Americas, represented by the TUCA, recognises that energy transitions can be profoundly unjust if they are led by transnational corporate interests, putting at risk historical trade union gains around the world, even more so in the Global South and in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is imperative to analyse the current moment and identify opportunities for the construction of a regional perspective with joint proposals between national unions, global unions and social movements. This meeting, of TUED South organisations, made this exercise possible and encouraged the challenge of taking this process forward in other countries with the perspective of working towards a Just Transition and the democratisation of energy for our peoples.” - Kaira Reese, Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA/CSA)

“The Bogotá TUED South meeting highlighted that policy institutions and think tanks can play an important role in supporting regional industrial planning with public, democratised energy –  particularly if policy recommendations are grounded in the demands of the trade union movement and have the legitimacy of coming from working people. (..) Left governments and organisers who are attempting a developmentalist strategy for renewable energy face two deeply difficult and intertwined tasks - implementing both an industrial policy to build supply on the one hand, and taking control of the distribution grid in order to secure demand on the other. There is essentially no way to do this without state power. Furthermore, this task demands both multi-year planning and coordination with other countries. Left governments must be supported to develop both short term popular policies that can help ensure the continuity of their own authority through the election cycle, and contextualise these policies in terms of longer-term goals that can accomplish a genuine transition to a publicly owned renewable economy.” - Patrick Robbins,  New York Energy Democracy Alliance, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and Climate and Community Project (CCP)