Continuing Country:

Uruguay has developed a national planning framework that mainstreams sustainability and emphasizes circular economy.


Uruguay has demonstrated economic growth as well as high levels of human development. Simultaneously, its open economy remains vulnerable to oscillations in the global market. Exports rely primarily on agriculture and livestock that are intense in the use of natural resources. To address these challenges, the government is committed to green economy in pursuit of higher income, better wealth distribution, job creation and poverty reduction.

Several national planning processes have been completed, including a National Development Strategy - Uruguay 2050, a National Agenda of Infrastructure, and the National Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development. The government has also created the National Planning Directorate to advise on strategic action for the country’s long-term sustainable development.

Since joining in 2017, PAGE has helped to inform these planning processes, working to strengthen capacity to assess the impact of environmental policies, enhance public-private collaboration and raise awareness. On a thematic and sectoral level, PAGE work has focused on supporting operationalisation of circular economy concepts. Circular economy was mainstreamed into the overarching programme Transforma Uruguay – focused on promoting a productive transformation of the country’s economy and supported by a National Circular Economy Action Plan. Work has also been pursued on green and productive services, greening of enterprises, waste valorisation and land use tensions. These activities have contributed to the achievement of SDGs 4, 8, 11, 12, 13 and 17, as well as Uruguay’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.

The Sustainable Development Goals

PAGE milestones

  • PAGE activities in Uruguay in 2017

    • PAGE launched in Uruguay
    • Planning workshop hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining to set the priorities for PAGE work
    • National Steering Committee established
  • PAGE activities in Uruguay in 2018

    • Analysis of available Macroeconomic Models that can be used for Uruguay’s Environmental Policy Impact Assessment completed
    • PAGE supported the Director of the Office of Planning and Budget to present the Voluntary National Review for Uruguay at the High-Level Political Forum in New York
    • Learning needs workshop held in Montevideo with more than 50 participants
    • Training course developed and held on the analysis of international markets for waste products within global value chains
    • Reports produced on the artisanal brick industry, highlighting shortcomings in working conditions
  • PAGE activities in Uruguay in 2019

    • First Circular Economy Award for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Uruguay
    • National Development Strategy Uruguay 2050 officially announced, including environmental components supported by PAGE
    • National Circular Economy Action Plan published
    • Work commenced to institutionalise green economy training into the curricula of the National Institute for Employment and Professional Training
    • National Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development approved

Progress in 2019: A snapshot

Incorporating environmental dimensions into national development strategies

PAGE supported the incorporation of environmental components into the “National Development Strategy Uruguay 2050” - officially announced in August 2019. The Strategy is based on the articulation of more than 20 prospective studies carried out over the last four years, in which more than 2000 technicians participated, together with inputs from various ministries, businesses, academia and civil society organizations.

PAGE’s role in its development included:

  1. A strategic environmental assessment on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain within the framework of the strategic planning process;
  2. A greenhouse gasses scenario analysis on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain; and
  3. An overarching environmental perspective of the Strategy.

This work continues with a focus on supporting the design and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation system for the Strategy.

Building environmental components into economic modelling

A workshop was held in January 2019 presenting the final report on the analysis of available models for the assessment of macroeconomic impact of environmental policies, including the climate change dimension. Public officials from a range of institutions attended and there were more than 30 online viewers of the workshop through Twitter.

Boosting the circular economy

In June 2019, PAGE launched the first Circular Economy Award in the Latin America and Caribbean region#UruguayCircular2019 – with 100 attendees. The Award offers visibility and recognition to companies, entrepreneurs, communities and educational institutions whose processes, products or services advance circular economy principles and methods.

The National Circular Economy Action Plan was launched in September 2019 by Transforma Uruguay (the National System of Productive Transformation and Competitiveness created in 2016 with the purpose of promoting productive innovation and economic development). The Plan aims to boost the circular economy within the framework of the country's sustainable development plan by identifying actions that seek to generate systematic information for the design of public policies. It also promotes research and innovation and knowledge of business models, identifies early activities, and encourages practices based on its principles.

Creating green and inclusive production and services

PAGE has been supporting the policy design process to address issues around artisanal brick production, giving specific attention to decent work and environmental practices. Several activities have been completed throughout 2019:

  • In May, the first international event on Cleaner Production and Formalisation of Brick Production Activities of Uruguay was held with approximately 80 attendees. The implementation of better technologies and energy efficiency, environmental and social aspects linked to the sector, marketing and value chain, and economic-financial instruments were explored;
  • Since October, PAGE has been supporting the creation of the Pando Brick Production School and Park to generate decent work, provide knowledge and experience in Cleaner Production and improve environmental performance and market access; and
  • Throughout November, PAGE organized workshops on raw materials and cleaner productions and good practices in several cities in Uruguay with over 100 attendees.

Leading South-South cooperation

Uruguay has paved the way for South-South collaboration, jointly hosting the first regional webinar with Argentina as part of a South-South Green Economy Network for Change in Latin America. The initiative is a direct follow-up to the Green Economy Academy held in Turn in October 2019, with 40 representatives from Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico attending to discuss views on how technology can be used to foster education on IGE, amongst other topics. This webinar will be taken forward as an important information sharing platform for not only Latin America, but also the Caribbean.

PAGE impact: 2017-2019 and beyond

Outcome 1: National Policymaking

Uruguay has taken significant steps to integrate environmental dimensions into national planning and strategy formulation with PAGE support. These are highlighted below:

Incorporating IGE into national policies

Several activities have been completed to support integration of IGE into national policy frameworks, as follows:

  • National Environmental Plan: Uruguay’s National Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development was formally launched in October 2019. This Plan provides a framework for developing policies at a national level that integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. To create a unified framework for environmental management, the Plan seeks to strengthen the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, which is the environmental authority responsible for environmental planning. It also calls for the National Environmental System – an inter-agency group comprised of various national bodies – to prepare a plan to align the activities of actors at national, departmental and municipal levels.
  • National Development Strategy: PAGE supported the inclusion of environmental components into the National Development Strategy Uruguay 2050 officially announced in August 2019. As well as providing an overarching environmental perspective, PAGE’s role in the development of the Strategy included a strategic environmental assessment and greenhouse gasses scenario analysis on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain. This, together with the National Environmental Plan contribute to SDG 17, target 17.14, by enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development. Work on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain contributes to SDG 8, target 8.4, by working to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, and SDG 12, target 12.2, by promoting the sustainable management and efficient use of natural materials. The development of greenhouse gasses scenario analysis supports SDG 13, targets 13.1 and 13.2 by integrating climate change measures into national policies.
Macroeconomic modelling

Building on the green economy assessment completed in 2015, PAGE has facilitated the use of macroeconomic modelling and related capacity development for public officials, enabling them to develop economic models with an environmental component and evaluate the potential impacts of environmental policies. In 2018, PAGE supported the development of a report describing available models for impact assessment of environmental policies at a macroeconomic level. This work contributes SDG 17, targets 17.18 and 17.19, by increasing the availability of data and measurements of the progress towards the SDGs.

Outcome 2: Sectoral and Thematic Reform

A Green Economy Assessment completed in 2015 identified priority areas that could drive a green economy transition in Uruguay, including agriculture, livestock, industry and tourism. These findings contributed to the implementation of PAGE activities as follows:

Green and inclusive production and services

Together with key government institutions, PAGE has been developing public policies to promote the greening of traditionally “brown” productive activities. Specially, PAGE has played an important role in addressing issues related to artisanal brick production. This includes organizing the first international event on Cleaner Production and Formulisation of Brick Production Activities in May 2019. Since October 2019, PAGE has been supporting the creation of the Pando Brick Production School and Park to provide theoretical and practical training in the production of bricks, incorporate good practices, promote efficiency, improve marketing conditions and improve working conditions. Finally, throughout November 2019, PAGE organized capacity building workshops on raw materials and cleaner production throughout Uruguay. This work contributes to SDG 8, target 8.3, by promoting productive activities that support sustainable development objectives.

Land use tensions in mixed use metropolitan areas

Since 2018, PAGE has been supporting the design and implementation of policies to relieve tensions between industrial activities and residential areas in metropolitan Montevideo. In March 2019, a final report was completed characterising an urban zone that shows tensions between leather tannery activities and residential use. The conclusions and lessons learnt from this report serve as an important input for the design of public policy addressing this issue. This work supports SDG 11, target 11.3 by enhancing inclusive and sustainable urbanisation.

Circular economy

Steps have been taken to support the development of a circular economy as key component of a green economy transition. The immediate focus has been the development of a National Action Plan on Circular Economy, as well as the launching of the National Circular Economy Awards. In addition, Uruguay has explored the possibility of expanding the application of the circular economy concept with advice from Finland. Going forward, PAGE plans to support the establishment of Circular Bio-Economy technological centre. This work contributes to SDG 12, target 12.5, by reducing waste generation. The North-South exchange contributes to SGD 17, target 17.6 by facilitating knowledge sharing.

Greening of businesses

PAGE is supporting a programme for the greening of micro, small and medium sized enterprises, with an emphasis on cleaner production and labour formalisation. In 2018, PAGE collaborated with the Energy Efficiency Programme of the National Directorate of Energy to create an app that helps businesses to improve their energy efficiency. In December 2019, a company was selected to design and implement this tool. This workstream supports SDG 8, targets 8.3 and 8.4, by promoting resource efficiency and supporting productive activities, job creation and labour formalisation. It also contributes to SDG 12, target 12.A, by supporting scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable consumption and production.

Waste valorisation

PAGE collaborated with Plan Ceibal (a national initiative providing information and communication technology equipment to primary and secondary schools), in the development of prototypes of locking brick-like blocks that use recycled plastics recovered from disused computer equipment from Plan Ceibal devices. Finalised in August 2019, the prototypes are being used as furniture in schools and educational spaces. This contributes to SDG 12, target 12.5, by reducing waste generation.

Outcome 3: Strengthening Capacity

In addition to progressing a detailed Green Economy Learning Assessment that will feed into a national capacity strengthening plan, PAGE has carried out several capacity building efforts aligned to sectoral and thematic areas. These include green entrepreneurship and green and inclusive production services. In addition, it has participated in several collaborative activities within Latin America and globally.

Institutionalising IGE learning

In 2018, PAGE commenced work on a Green Economy Learning Assessment to feed into the National Capacity Strengthening Plan for IGE (due to be finalised in April 2020). In 2019, work also commenced with the National Institute for Employment and Professional Training to institutionalise green economy training into its curricula, aiming to reach approximately 100,000 individuals, including labour unions and civil servants. Additionally, PAGE has agreed with the National School of Public Administration to further develop an online platform to deliver courses on green economy, primarily targeted at civil servants. These activities support SDG 4, target 4.7 by identifying learning needs to promote sustainable development.

Building individual capacity

Several trainings have taken place throughout 2019 supporting SDG 4, target 4.7by ensuring all learners acquire the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development. These include:

  • Training in May on green economy scenarios;
  • Two workshops on the Strategic Environmental Assessment, with the first in March on the forest-wood-cellulose value chain and the second in June on the overarching environmental perspective of the Strategy;
  • Workshops on green jobs and entrepreneurship for youth throughout September across different locations; and
  • A series of capacity building events in November on cleaner production and formulisation of brick production activities in various locations.
South-south collaboration

Uruguay has participated several events and collaborative activities throughout 2019 supporting SDG 17, target 17.6, by enhancing South-South cooperation and knowledge sharing, and target 17.9, by increasing international support for capacity-building:

  • Participation in the inception meeting for PAGE Argentina in April;
  • Presentation by PAGE national coordinator and Head of the Environmental Department of the Chamber of Industries of Uruguay in October 2019 as part of World Commons Week organized by the University of Massachusetts and Cornell University and performed simultaneously in the United States, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.