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An all-women alliance is helping transform Colombia’s highly polluting construction industry into a cleaner, greener business. Thanks to these women and the initiative, companies are cutting waste, using renewable energy, and reducing water and paper consumption. Not only are these measures helping the environment, the companies have found that going green has also boosted their bottom line, making them more competitive.

The Fostering Cleaner Production initiative supports and encourages women to develop action plans in key industries to reduce industrial pollution and address climate change. As a result, women working in water and sewage companies, hydraulic and sanitary installation firms, and construction companies are now being trained in pollution prevention techniques and technologies.

The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations, technological progress is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency. Without technology and innovation, industrialization in a sustainable way cannot happen, and without such industrialization, development will not happen.

Examples of how the women involved in the Fostering Cleaner Production initiative are leading cleaner production processes include:

  • A woman from the electroplating industry who eliminated the use of cyanide and heavy metals, reduced hazardous solid waste, and reused water.
  • A woman from a sugar cane sub-product enterprise (trapiche panelero) who eliminated the use of burning tires by switching to an energy-efficient oven.
  • Women coffee farmers who are cleaning the waste water from the coffee production process, and reuse water and solid waste in composting processes.

To learn more, we spoke to Paola Vasquez, the Founder and Director of the Genstainable Foundation.

Listen to the interview below, and subscribe to the Momentum for Change podcast. To stay connected with Momentum for Change, subscribe to the e-newsletter.

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