Minister of Environment of Uruguay, Adrián Peña
Archive image of Uruguay’s Minister of the Environment, Adrián Peña. . / Raúl Martínez / Archive
(RAÚL MARTÍNEZ /)
Montevideo, Aug 27 . .- Uruguay’s Minister of the Environment, Adrián Peña, took office this Thursday in a novel ceremony, since it is a portfolio created from the approval of the Urgent Consideration Law (LUC), star project of the Executive of Luis Lacalle Pou.
Until now, the senator of the Colorado Party (PC, center-right) took office in the Water Museum, in Aguas Corrientes, about 60 kilometers from Montevideo, before the president and several members of the cabinet.
The new minister acknowledged that he has « a complex task » ahead of him, since the environment « is a very broad matter, very transversal, where many actors, public and private, carry out actions. »
« It is necessary to order, systematize, decentralize and direct the multiple efforts that exist from the most diverse areas, » he said.
Peña remarked that the newly created portfolio « must adopt an institutional design that allows it to exercise effective leadership of national environmental policy », in charge of which « the State » is always in charge.
The choice of the place for the ceremony was made by the minister himself to highlight the importance of water.
« It is no coincidence that we are in Aguas Corrientes. It is a clear sign of the government’s commitment to water. Among the first measures to be taken is water in quantity and quality, » he said.
The former president of Uruguay Julio María Sanguinetti (1985-1990 and 1995-2000), a reference to the CP, also attended the meeting. He posted on Twitter that « the environment is the challenge of our time » and that on this day his political training , embodied in Peña, « takes over with hope of the task. »
The Ministry of the Environment was created after the approval of the LUC on July 8 and, ten days later, the appointment of the then Colorado senator Adrián Peña as head of the portfolio became official.
Until now, its powers were included in the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, in the hands of Irene Moreira, belonging to the Cabildo Abierto party (CA-right).
The new Ministry will face challenges such as water care, with high levels of contamination in some places, and environmental control of the future pulp mill of the Finnish company UPM – which would be the third plant of this type in Uruguay-, whose mega-investment has been in the sights of environmentalists.
The PC is one of the parties of the coalition that supports the Government of Lacalle Pou, leader of the National Party (PN, center-right), together with the Cabildo Abierto, Partido Independiente (PI, center-left) and Partido de la Gente (PG, right) -This one without members in the Executive-.
Peña’s entry into the Government allows the PC to recover its initial number of portfolios. The resignation of former Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi last July had left the Ministers of Tourism, Germán Cardoso, and of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Carlos María Uriarte, as the only « red » representatives in the cabinet.