The document, which examines the state of progress in the region towards the fulfillment of the MDGs, was prepared within the framework of the United Nations Regional Coordination Mechanism by 18 UN agencies, funds and specialized bodies in the region: ECLAC, FAO, UN-HABITAT, ILO, PAHO/WHO, WFP, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIFEM, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNOPS, OCHA, UNHCR and UNWTO.
The report was released today in New York by Antonio Prado, Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC, which coordinated the inter-agency work, Pedro Medrano, Regional Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), and Niky Fabiancic, Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The document asserts that a significant part of the progress made by the region as a whole in advancing towards the MDGs, particularly with regard to reducing extreme poverty, took place in the six years prior to the global crisis (2002-2008). During that time, Latin America and the Caribbean had relatively high growth rates, with several countries improving income distribution, raising per capita social public expenditures and applying macroeconomic policies that avoided a harsher impact of the crisis.
However, although some countries have attained several of the targets and others are en route to doing so, several countries will have difficulties in achieving full compliance if they continue at the same rate of progress observed so far to 2015.
The report emphasizes a rights perspective and the reduction of gender, ethnic, socio-economic and territorial inequalities. It analyzes the post-crisis scenario in Latin America and the Caribbean and looks into productive employment and decent work, environmental sustainability, innovation and the technology gap and South-South cooperation.
The region has progressed 85% in reaching the goal of halving extreme poverty (MDG 1). If it continues at this rate, Latin America could achieve this objective by 2015. Brazil and Chile, for example, already have, while Peru is close to doing so.
However, the outbreak of the global crisis in 2008 may imperil the achievement of this target in other countries, having halted the trend of the previous six years (2002-2008), in which extreme poverty dropped from 19.4% to 12.9%. Moreover, poverty is greater among children, women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants and in rural areas.
Regional progress towards the goal of halving the number of people who suffer hunger was 55% by 2006, according to FAO estimates.
With regard to the new Millennium target of achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, the report notes that from 1990 to 2008, the indicators have evolved relatively well, although the low productivity growth and structural heterogeneity in the region have impeded real wages and income distribution from improving sustainably.
In education (MDG 2), Latin America and the Caribbean progressed significantly in terms of coverage and access. Most countries have registration rates close to or over 90%, similar to developed countries. However, there is still much to do in coverage and quality of high school education.
As for gender equality (MDG 3), the gaps with regard to men have diminished over the past 15 years, but the rate of progress has been slow. The report states that the three necessary pillars for attaining gender equality are economic independence, physical autonomy and participation in decision-making.
In relation to the right to health, expressed in MDGs 4,5 and 6, the health conditions of the population have no doubt improved, but progress is very unequal and heterogeneous, and with regard to some indicators, insufficient. For example, only a third of countries may be able to meet the goal of reducing infant mortality by 50%, given that regional progress in 2009 was 79%.
With regard to MDG 7 referring to environmental sustainability, the consumption of ozone-depleting substances has diminished, the surface of protected areas has increased over the past decade and coverage of potable water and sanitation services has improved. However, Latin America continues to have some of the highest deforestation rates in the world and carbon dioxide emissions have grown steadily.
Regarding MDG 8 on fomenting a global partnership for development, the region made significant progress in its international insertion between 2005 and 2009, although the international crisis caused its exports to drop drastically.
In reference to Official Development Assistance (ODA), the report says that donor countries have yet to mobilize the necessary financial resources. The relative participation of the region as recipient of ODA fell from 9% in 1990 to 7% of the total in 2008. Current ODA levels are far below the target established in the Monterrey Summit (2002) - 0.7% of gross income of donor countries. Fulfilling this commitment could contribute to achieving the MDGs.
The document provides countries with a series of policy recommendations for the achievement of the Millennium Goals. These are South-South cooperation, including the principles of sustainable development in their national programmes, closing welfare gaps, implementing productive and technological policies to encourage job-creation and improve income, and paying urgent attention to the most extreme situations of poverty and hunger, all essential to gaining equality in the region.
United Nations, under the coordination of Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Antonio Prado, Deputy Executive Secretary; and Arturo León, Consultant.