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"Trailblazing Sustainability: Unveiling Cote Casteneda Ossandon's Circular Economy Odyssey"

Updated: May 6

In a world where environmental consciousness is paramount, individuals like Cote Casteneda Ossandon stand out as pioneers in the journey towards sustainability. Cote's commitment to the circular economy traces back to 2010, a pivotal year when she stepped into the realm of environmental policymaking as part of the Environment Minister's cabinet. It was during a transformative visit to Rapa Nui that she witnessed the urgent need for sustainable solutions firsthand, igniting a fervent dedication to fostering a circular economy. Fast forward to 2013, Cote crystallized her vision by founding her company, embarking on a mission to revolutionize industries through sustainable strategies. With unwavering determination, she has championed collaborative and innovative approaches, infusing sustainability into diverse sectors. Join us as we delve into Cote's remarkable journey, exploring her insights and initiatives driving positive change in the global landscape of sustainability.

1.Can you share with our readers your journey into the circular economy space and what inspired your interest in this area?

My journey into the circular economy space began in 2010 when I had the opportunity to work in the cabinet of the Environment Minister. Witnessing firsthand the environmental challenges, particularly during a visit to Rapa Nui, deeply inspired my interest in sustainability and circularity. Since then, I’ve dedicated my career to promoting prosperity through sustainable strategies, forming my company in 2013. Over the years, I’ve worked tirelessly to instill sustainability practices in various sectors, focusing on collaborative and innovative approaches.

In 2010 I worked in the cabinet of the Environment Minister and my first mission was to create the Ministry and the Environmental Assessment Service as formal institutions in my country. I remember that same year, I had to go to Rapa Nui, a beautiful island and the main tourist destination in our country and unlike all the tourists who visit it and go to its beautiful beaches, I was visiting the landfill that receives all the waste. Standing in front of these mountains of smoking garbage while listening to the mayor tell us how the waste had increased with tourists and how the underground water tables of the island could be contaminated, touched my heart. How much of that waste was actually not garbage? Is this a landfill or a mine of hidden resources? Will my grandson be able to enjoy this island?

From there, where some see waste, I see a gold mine. From that moment on, the circular economy became my life's crusade. I formed my company and since 2013 I have been dedicated to promoting the prosperity of companies and territories through sustainability and circular economy strategies, promoting collaborative and innovative environments.

During the first 5 years I worked installing capacities and developing projects in commercial neighborhoods, tourist and gastronomic centers both at an urban and rural level. This was because i was obsessed with strengthening local economies economically and socio-environmentally. Today, after 11 years working on the subject, I am happy, because together with Achiga and the Sustainability and Climate Change Agency, during this year we will work on the development of a National Sustainable Gastronomy Standard, which gastronomic companies from Chile that comply with will be able to certify

In 2019 I redefined how I measure my success according to how many smiles i got and the positive impact I generate with my initiatives... and with this I opened myself to working with all sectors of the economy, addressing mining, food, agriculture, fishing and construction. Sometimes working with companies, others with business groups, municipalities or regional governments. I promote a climate culture, identify gaps and expanders, establishing goals, promoting efficiency in the use of resources, circulating and extending the useful life of materials, and transforming to low-emission and/or regenerative processes. I seek to dinamize collaboration between actors, seek synergies, take advantage of commercial opportunities and business development.

That year I was highlighted by Women Entrepreneurs and El Mercurio as a Woman Leader, beginning my path in women's networks. Women are genetically designed to take care of home, we easily connect with the world where our grandchildren will live, therefore I realized that the more connected women participated in the economy, the more the transformation would accelerate towards a more conscious, humane and positive impactful view. From there, I have participated in multiple networks, such as Women Leaders of the Americas, Her Global Impact, in addition to being Vice President of Women in Tourism Chile for 3 years. In 2023 I had the honor of being invited to the G100 Club as country chair of circular economy in Chile and to continue weaving the network and expanding sustainable and inclusive development

This year I entered the Holon Computing Lab that seeks to create collective cognition, developing technologies and creating collective machines and computers beyond the information systems and characteristics of the agents that are part of the ecosystem. On the other hand, together with Eco Smart Life we ​​develop sustainable housing and neighbors models, and study other initiatives with high business potential and impact.

2.As a woman leader in the circular economy field, what unique perspectives or approaches do you bring to the table?

As a woman leader in the circular economy field, I bring a holistic approach focused on regeneration, collectiveness, agility, and inclusiveness. These elements guide my efforts towards leaving a positive impact on society and the environment while fostering collaboration and diversity within the industry.

Regeneration connects me with love. So why should I damage it if I can leave it better? Also considering the ecological overshoot in which we have found ourselves since 2000, degrading ecosystems and losing multiple species, it seems to be not only desirable but a MUST.

Collectiveness takes me to the relationships and emergent behaviors that occur when two or more parties interact in a given environment. Go directly to the relationships, beyond the data and the characterization and intelligence of the agents that are part of it, whether human, organizational or ecosystemic.

Agile connects me with the sense of emergency and with a non-bureaucratic but effective way of working with teams that can be anywhere in the world, managing workflows and results.

Inclusiveness attempts to introduce key themes for a healthy social life, such as gender equality, fair trade, inclusive infrastructure, among others.

3.What are some of the key challenges you've faced as a woman leader in this industry, and how have you overcome them?

One of the key challenges I’ve faced is revealing my purpose beyond my companies and establishing my value within the industry. By staying true to my essence, developing my personal brand, and actively engaging with women’s networks, I’ve been able to overcome these challenges and attract meaningful collaborations.

*Revealing your purpose beyond your companies, questioning the purpose of everything we do, helps to organize and draw the value we generate in our environment. Recognize our value, develop our personal brand and communicate who we are authentically. Being faithful to the essence, we attract the best allies and repel those who remain.

Ideas fade if they do not materialize. The relevant thing is to start, astutely, experimenting a lot and being willing to make mistakes as a design strategy, learning from each step, staying attentive, listening to what it wants to tell us.

Wanting to collaborate is not the only thing required to collaborate effectively and synergistically. It is required at least to connect with the purposes of each actor, establish a focus, and agilely manage the workflow using social and/or digital collaboration technologies.

The search for economical resources, whether for investment, sponsors, donations or clients, is a key activity that can be supported by women's networks, designing an astute and purposeful Power Map or gathering a board of key women who perform the role of directors of each other's companies, with quarterly or semiannual meetings to review issues and progress.

4.Could you highlight some of your notable contributions or initiatives within the circular economy space that have made a positive impact?

Some of my notable contributions include spearheading sustainability initiatives in tourism and gastronomy, revitalizing the circular economy in the Maule Region, and founding Women in Tourism Chile to promote gender equality and sustainability in the industry. Additionally, I’m actively involved in research and development projects aimed at furthering circularity in various sectors.

I have worked on associative projects that have installed sustainability capabilities in tourism and gastronomic guilds and/or corporations in Chile such as Barrio Lastarria and Bellas Artes, San Pedro de Atacama, Viñas del Cachapoal, Asegmi, Isla Lemuy, Indigenous Tourism, Andes Santiago, reaching more than 200 companies.

For three years, I support the revitalization of the circular economy of the Maule Region, connecting more than 70 key actors in construction, agriculture and tourism and identifying circular opportunities for the region.

I founded Women in Tourism Chile, bringing together 70 members and activating more than 500 women throughout Chile, putting the gender perspective and sustainability in the industry on the table, pushing with events, campaigns, rewards for women of the industry and inspiring talks among others.

This year I hope to add my first book oriented to Effective Collaboration and add a research and development project of collective technologies to promote a healthy water cycle in Chile, open markets for a substitute for PeatMoss in Chile, develop a circular model for company uniforms mining and/or food.

5.How do you see the role of women entrepreneurs evolving in shaping the future of the circular economy?

Women entrepreneurs play a crucial role in shaping the future of the circular economy through their innovative ideas, collaborative efforts, and commitment to sustainability. Their participation is essential in driving growth, fostering inclusivity, and creating positive societal impact.

6.In your opinion, what are some of the most promising opportunities for women-led businesses within the circular economy framework?

Women-led businesses have promising opportunities across various chain values within the circular economy framework. From sustainable lifestyle models to substitute materials development, the potential for impactful ventures is vast, emphasizing the importance of effective collaboration and collective action.

7.How can businesses, governments, and society at large better support and encourage women's participation and leadership in advancing the circular economy agenda?

Businesses, governments, and society can better support and encourage women’s participation by creating inclusive environments, promoting synergies, and reducing gender gaps. Encouraging active engagement in women’s networks and providing resources for skill development can also empower women leaders in advancing the circular economy agenda.

8.What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders who are interested in pursuing a career or business venture in the circular economy sector?

My advice to aspiring women leaders in the circular economy sector is to follow their passion, align actions with purpose, and cultivate a supportive network. Embrace experimentation, learn from mistakes, and celebrate both successes and challenges. By staying adaptable, collaborative, and holistic in approach, aspiring leaders can make meaningful contributions to the circular economy movement.

*First there must be passion, identify your why and align all your actions towards it. Choose your tribe carefully, the like-minded talents you will work with, design how you will relate with each one. Be holistic, strategic, tactical and executive.

Look for value where others see waste, look for positive impact and profitable - scale of opportunities. Measure, test, include the actors in your ecosystem in the design of your project, validate with different actors and at different levels. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it shows you where not to go. Experiment and learn. Share your learning, generate spaces for conversation and active listening, generate clear agreements and expansive synergies.

Enter communities where you can connect with other people and women who support your cause, show what you do so that the world can see it and be attracted to your path.

Celebrate all your steps, the good and the bad, value your well-being and balance. Be ambitious but take care of yourself in the process. Be flexible and adaptable.

9.Can you share any personal experiences or anecdotes that have shaped your understanding of the importance of sustainability and circularity in business?

Personal experiences, such as witnessing environmental challenges and actively engaging in sustainability initiatives, have profoundly shaped my understanding of the importance of circularity in business. These experiences have reinforced my commitment to driving positive change and promoting sustainable practices.

You can see a little about me at and I recently started my newsletter Comunidad R on LinkedIn @CoteCastaneda, where I reflect on various subjects that inspire and mobilize me.

10.Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of the circular economy movement, and how do you see women playing a pivotal role in driving its growth and innovation?

Looking ahead, I envision women playing a pivotal role in driving the growth and innovation of the circular economy movement. With their unique perspectives, collaborative spirit, and commitment to sustainability, women will continue to lead transformative initiatives that create a more resilient and equitable future for all.

Published By She Business Time


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