The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) underscored today the political commitment by the region’s countries to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 goals (SDGs) at the first day of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) taking place through July 19 at UN headquarters in New York.
Nineteen of the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have high-level intersectoral institutions to coordinate the implementation of this agenda and 14 countries have presented their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) between 2016-2017, while two more are expecting to do so in 2018, underscored Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, during the panel on Implementation at the regional and sub-regional levels.
In addition to Bárcena, representatives of the five regional UN commissions participated in the session: Shamshad Aktar, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Advisor to the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as well as Oleg Pankratov, Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, on behalf of the Eurasian Economic Union.
“The main driver of change for the eradication of poverty and the construction of shared prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean must be the end of the culture of privilege, tax evasion, illicit financial flows and corruption,” said Bárcena during her presentation. She pointed to the six pillars for action and cooperation around the 2030 Agenda agreed at the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development held in April of this year in Mexico under the auspices of ECLAC.
These pillars are the creation of an inter-institutional and inter-sectoral architecture at the highest level in each country; the incorporation of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) into national budgets and development plans; the strengthening of national statistical capacities; the need to prioritize the means of implementation (financing, technology, trade and accountability); the strengthening of regional architecture; and the promotion of dialogue between government, the private sector and citizens, fostering coordination with the United Nations system, regional organizations and development banks.
In order to mobilize public and private resources around the 2030 agenda, it is crucial that the countries of the region increase their taxation – and change its structure – and reduce tax evasion, emphasized Bárcena, who alerted that the high levels of debt faced by Caribbean countries limit their fiscal space for meeting the SDGs.
The United Nations senior representative also advocated for the economic autonomy of women and productive diversification hand in hand with a great environmental push as cross-cutting themes in the 2030 Agenda.
Along these lines, she called for the reinforcement of intra-regional trade; direct foreign investment in non-extractive sectors that favor supply chains with local and regional providers; the promotion of a trade-facilitating agenda; the promotion of industrialization and innovation, increasing local and regional content in exports; the regional coordination of fiscal and exchange-rate policies, and joint action to build better global and regional governance on financial issues.
During the inaugural session of the HLPF, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), underscored the importance of the regional dimension of the 2030 Agenda, which warranted opening the Forum’s work with a panel on the theme.
All the presenters at the session highlighted the key role of the five UN regional commissions, including ECLAC, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, i.e. in the analysis of trends, progress and gaps in each country, in the identification of the critical links between the SDGs in each region, in the contribution to the voluntary national reviews and as a link between national and global levels.
In the country comments stage, representatives from El Salvador (Pro Tempore President for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM) and Mexico (serving as ECLAC Chair until 2018) underscored the meeting this year of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development and offered thanks for ECLAC’s support throughout the process related to the development agenda in the region.