It takes place in the northeast of Corrientes.

Developed by the pharmaceutical company Novartis in partnership with the forestry company GMF Latin America, it implies a total investment of 13.7 million dollars. The initial objective is to capture 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide by 2012 and raise that figure to 3 million by 2040.

Located in the northeast of Corrientes, the city of Ituzaingó is the headquarters of the first Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project to capture carbon dioxide (CO₂) presented in the country. At the global level, this is the twentieth forestry initiative based on the guidelines of the Kyoto Protocol and the framework agreement on Climate Change of the United Nations (UN).

Called ‘Santo Domingo’, the pharmaceutical company Novartis is in charge of the project, in consortium with the forestry company of Swiss-German origin GMF Latin America. In addition to promoting the elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere, the initiative promotes the generation of wood-derived forest products through sustainable means.

With that double purpose, Novartis will disburse a total of 13.7 million dollars, of which it has already invested U.S. $ 11.9 million. Initially the goal is to capture some 100,000 tons (Tn) of CO2 until 2012, and then raise that figure to 3 million tons by 2040.

“In 2007 we acquired a plot of 3,400 hectares in the area and since then we have planted three million trees. The idea is to progressively establish a sustainable mixed forest with 75% of native species, such as lapacho, cedar, guatambú, ambay, anacaguita, timbó blanco and laurel criollo”, said Heinrich Burschel, general manager of GMF Latin America

In his words, the venture also includes plantations of exotic species for the region, such as pine and eucalyptus, and does not conceive the presence of animals due to the methane emissions they produce. “The seeds used come from the different native Misiones and Corrientes forests, although some have also been developed by experts from the Faculty of Forestry Sciences of Eldorado (Misiones),” said the director.

Long-term improvements

Novartis, meanwhile, stressed that the project will promote corporate environmental performance and provide long-term improvements for neighboring communities through the creation of employment and the generation of sustainable and high-value forest products. “In that way, we will also contribute to re-establishing natural ecosystems and promoting biodiversity,” the company said in a statement.

In 2005, the company adopted as its own and voluntarily, the global goal of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction proposed by the Kyoto Protocol, which meant achieving a 5% decrease by 2012. Five years later, Novartis strengthened its international commitment to self-impose the need to limit emissions of own operations and energy purchased by 2015 by 15%, and to do so by 20% by 2020.

Despite the sustained growth of the global pharmaceutical industry, on the one hand, and the activities carried out by the firm, on the other, thanks to its internal programs, Novartis managed to reduce its GHG emissions in absolute terms since 2008. However, based on its average expansion rate (close to 10% per year), it had to adopt a series of additional measures to comply with the Kyoto objectives. In this way, it took the decision to complement its efficiency measures in the processes with external initiatives to compensate emissions. And, within that framework, the ‘Santo Domingo’ project emerged in Corrientes.

Third actor

Novartis provides health care solutions and has a broad portfolio of products that includes prescription drugs, drops for eye care, preventive vaccines, diagnostic methods, generic medicines and pharmaceuticals for mass consumption.

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, it employs approximately 119,000 people and is present in more than 140 countries around the world. During 2010, the entity invested nearly 18% of its total sales in research and development programs.

GMF Latin America is an Argentine forestry company with Swiss and German capital. Among other areas, it specializes in the establishment of plantations to capture CO2.

In addition to both organizations, we must highlight the participation in the ‘Santo Domingo’ venture of the international company First Climate, responsible for the measurement of the CO2 captured and the management of the CDM process, which will make it possible to obtain credits for the reduction of harmful emissions.