Grupo Ercus: Development of Guidelines for Sustainable Industrial Areas (SIA) in Mexico

Support the establishment of SIA in Latin America through various initiatives (e.g. guidelines, conferences)

The Sustainable Development Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, represents a serious challenge for the private sector of the Emerging Economies. The competitiveness and the high speed industrialization implies growing requirements also for the environmental necessities due to the increasing consumption of natural resources. An international consensus exists over the importance of integrating the related concepts of sustainable development, green growth and green economy into the principles and forms of the industrial production; there by transforming the sector into one of the principal actors in the fulfilling of the global development goals associated to environment.

Sustainability at production facilities throught SIA represent a recent and efficient paradigm of production and economic growth. The impact that a SIA can have includes economic, environmental and social benefits, for the company, its employees, the public actor and civil society. To build this type of installation implies the creation of roads, services and other infrastructure that has direct impact on social development, including aspects such as land, water, energy, job creation, CO2 emissions, waste, production, urban development among others.

Other positive aspects of economic growth includes foreign investment and technology attraction; increasing foreign trade and effects related to learning and best practice sharing. This includes job creation and the strengthening of the social tissue in the region where the SIA will be located.

Where industrial areas are located and how they function can have a significant impact on the environment and the development of local communities. A factory’s siting affects its business profitability, through transportation and labor costs for instance, but also the surrounding, and even global ecosystem, through air pollution, road congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions for example. As emerging market multinationals seek to balance such competing interests, defining what it means for an industrial area to be sustainable is a key concern.

One of the EMM Network’s goals is to support the development of SIA in Latin America. Among the activities carried out until now the following initiatives stand out:

  1. SROI- Joint Initiative. Sustainability Calculator

The sustainability calculator will be a web-based tool that allows estimating the RoI of investments in the sustainability of industrial areas, focusing on crucial variables that influence costs and income generated, and that are directly linked to voluntary measures enhancing the sustainability of the industrial zone. Thereby, the calculator integrates sustainability and business indicators into one, integrated concept that allows estimating the value added by concrete investments in the sustainability.

The calculator will allow estimating the RoI of investments on three levels: Level 1 focuses on measures intended to Minimize Risks, level 2 centers on possible investments geared towards Optimizing Processes, and level 3 adds measures that allow to Maximize Green RoI.

The sustainability calculator will be available on-line in English and Spanish. It will offer the option to save any results obtained and provide options for further support in concretizing options for investing in sustainability. The use of the calculator itself will be free of cost, any further advice by regional or international experts regarding concrete investment opportunities will be at cost.

2. Joint Initiatives – Grupo Ercus 

Between February and August 2015 the first phase of an integrated development partnership between the GIZ (including its Program Urban and Industrial Management II (PGAUI II)) and Grupo Ercus was carried out. Its objective was to develop Guidelines for the establishment of SIA in Mexico which will be pilot tested by the company. The goal is to scale up the project to a more strategic alliance to implement the entire process.

First Phase: Guidelines for the establishment of SIA in Mexico
Grupo Ercus is a diversified set of companies active in candy production, event management, printing solutions, and agricultural oil extraction. The company wants to relocate its production plant outside the metropolitan area of Mexico City. The present plant is too small for its purposes and surrounded by residential areas. The Group is therefore seeking a new site, to be shared with other businesses so as to reduce its environmental footprint.
The guidelines that have been developed in this phase define sustainability criteria that allow the selection of the most suitable location for a SIA and a definition of the profile of companies that could be housed in it. The criteria include environmental, social, political, geographic and business aspects.

Subsequent Phases
The draft guideline (available in Spanish – see downloads) will serve as a basis for a collaborative workshop amongst EMM Network members to provide input and peer-to-peer learning. Grupo Ercus will then pilot test the guideline as it seeks a new location for its factory. Lessons learnt from the pilot project will be fed back to improving the guidelines, following a public presentation of the project to interested parties. Finally, the EMM Network will develop policy recommendations that will be integrated into the process started with the National Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Mexico in the definition of sustainability criteria for SIA, as well as potentially international processes. It is also intended that the guidelines can be adapted and replicated in other emerging markets as part of the EMM Network.
The purpose of following phases is to generate new tools, this time related to the planning, design and construction phases of a SIA.

3. International Conference “Industrial Areas – Be Competitive through Sustainability. Criteria for Best Practices”


From October 13 to 14, 2015, an international conference on sustainable industrial areas was held in Mexico City. Organized by the Mexican Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Mexican Association of Industrial Parks (AMPIP) and supported by the GIZ programs COPLAN, EMM Network for Sustainability and PGAUI II, the event invited the participants to discuss criteria for sustainability of competitive industrial areas and exchange experiences and ideas on respective best practices. The interactive format and the pre-conference program including field visits to industrial areas near Mexico City, an interactive game and a networking dinner guaranteed a maximum of insights and contacts.



The SIA focus of the EMM Network will represent also the development of tools to be used for the development and improvement of this production facilities. Today there is no universal definition of sustainability for industrial areas or method to judge their performance in emerging markets. By integrating the disparate sustainability and business criteria into a cohesive and concise analytical framework, it is foreseen that more industrial sites will be developed in an environmentally and socially responsible fashion.

"For Grupo Ercus to be a part of the EMM Network has been invaluable regarding the support and the linkages obtained through this membership. We already signed a collaboration agreement with the final objective to develop a Sustainable Industrial Area (SIA) in which we will relocate our agricultural production as an anchor to attract other companies interested in the sustainability agenda. We thank GIZ and its amazing advisors team, starting with Diego Angelino, for its support."

Alejandro España, President of Grupo Ercus

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