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Global Director of Communications and Sustainability, AJE Grou
According to the UNESCO, there are a total of 1,007 properties declared World Heritage, distributed in 161 countries. In Peru, it is almost automatic to think of Machu Picchu as the most representative and well-known natural and monumental space in the world.
The Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, in Cusco, is part of a group of privileged properties within the World Heritage List, with the double declaration as Humanity’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, besides being one of the 7 wonders of the world.
The Natural and Cultural Heritage is made up of nature’s elements, which maintain their original context, intervened in some way by human beings and which are granted an exceptional value. But it also has a value that goes beyond the use value of the heritage assets: an economic value; because it generates economic activity around it and because, in itself, it is a product that is offered to the user and is another factor in the creation of economic value.
The Ministry of the Environment proposes, from the Guide for the Economic Valuation of Natural Heritage, an instrument for the management and economic valuation of cultural heritage. This valuation seeks to quantify, in monetary terms, the value of ecosystem goods and services so that the resulting information can be used in appropriate decision-making. Therefore, since 2017, we have decided, together with the Municipality of Machu Picchu and Inkaterra, to implement a series of measures to convert the district of Machu Picchu into the first Carbon Neutral tourist destination in Peru.
The implementation of a Plastic Waste Compactor in 2017, through our water brand “Cielo” and Inkaterra, was one of the first steps. Then, in 2019, we delivered to the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp) another Plastic Waste Compactor Plant destined for cleaning and recycling in the Inca Trail.
Other initiatives implemented for environmental care by the strategic partners are: the Plant that transforms cooking oil into Biodiesel, which prevents the arrival of 1,000 gallons of vegetable oil waste to the Vilcanota River, generating job opportunities in the production of biodiesel and glycerin; and the Organic Waste Pyrolyzer, which prevents the emission of Greenhouse Gases (Methane). The biochar generated is used by the community as fertilizer and by Sernanp in its reforestation work in the sanctuary. It is important to highlight the commendable waste management carried out by the municipality, which allows for the successful management of these resources.
Carbon Neutral Machu Picchu may inspire other wonders of the world and other international destinations to incorporate climate action into their management models, playing a key role in raising awareness among millions of people about the risks of climate change and the need to take mitigation measures.
Machu Picchu is then, an example of a circular economy achieved through the responsible management of its waste. This makes it a sustainable destination and a replicable model of management worldwide, in which the economic valuation of cultural heritage and the joint work of private enterprise and local government converge.