ECLAC 75 years

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was established in 1948, as one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations, with the objective of collaborating with the governments of the region to improve lives and strengthen trade relations between member States and the rest of the world.

Aniversario 75 años - Trabajando por un futuro productivo, inclusivo y sostenible.

History of ECLAC

The origins of ECLAC and the 1950s:
the centre-periphery model and industrialization
Década de 1950

During this period, ECLAC was at the forefront of Latin American economic thinking and shaped a new vision of development.

The Commission worked to achieve development in the region by promoting State-led industrialization policies to reduce the gaps between developed and developing countries.

The Subregional Headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Mexico was founded in 1951.

The 1960s:
structural reform for regional development
Década de 1960

Early in this decade, the Commission undertook a critical evaluation of its initial programme of work in the light of the results observed in the region, especially in those economies that had undergone a process of industrialization. Although the region had registered higher growth rates since the end of the Second World War, industrialization was found to have reproduced other peripheral conditions.

With the realization that the social structure of the countries of the region was a serious obstacle to technical progress, ECLAC therefore incorporated into its work an approach aimed at a better understanding of economic and social development.

In 1966, the ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean was created in Port of Spain to provide services to all the countries of the insular Caribbean.

The 1970s:
development models in Latin America and the Caribbean
Década de 1970

In the 1970s, ECLAC thinking continued to advance along two main lines: the nature and difficulties of economic growth and industrial development, and income distribution.

Central to ECLAC thinking during this decade was establishing development patterns with environmentally and socially sustainable means of production, consumption and distribution, and promoting regional exports of manufactures.

The 1980s:
the debt crisis
Década de 1980

The profound economic and social crisis affecting most of the countries of the region during the 1908s led then Executive Secretary, Norberto González (1985–1987), to describe the period as “the lost decade”.

The focus of this decade was on renegotiating external debt and making macroeconomic adjustments to return to economic growth, and implementing policies to mitigate the social costs of the debt crisis.

The 1990s:
productive transformation with equity
Década de 1990

This period saw the emergence of a new concept of development that aimed to create the conditions for curbing environmental degradation and improving the quality of life of the entire population.

The proposed solutions included combining strategies for economic growth, distributive equity and competitive integration with the international economy by incorporating technological progress into the production structure, in a context of commerical and financial globalization that was gaining ground.

The 2000s:
globalization, development and citizenship
Década de 2000

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, ECLAC emphasized the social dimension in its work, while increasingly integrating the dimension into its economic and institutional analyses and proposals.

During its sixth decade of existence, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ECLAC made a determined call to balance the asymmetries of globalization in order to achieve development based on productive transformation, distributive equity and social protection and cohesion.

The 2010s:
equality at the centre of sustainable development
Década de 2010

Equality has been a pillar of ECLAC thinking throughout its history, but it took a more central role in the 2010s, when significant reports were produced, with specific analyses and proposals.

When the countries of the region met in Escazú, Costa Rica, they adopted the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Escazú Agreement is an unprecedented treaty that seeks to ensure a healthy environment and sustainable development for present and future generations through more informed, participatory, just and inclusive societies.

The 2020s:
transformation of the development model into a more productive, inclusive and sustainable one
Década de 2020

In 2020, in view of the need to respond to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis and other crises such as the climate change, inequality and environmental crises, ECLAC proposed moving towards a transformative recovery with equality and sustainability. In addition, 2020 marked the start of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Upon the arrival of the new Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, from Costa Rica, in October 2022, ECLAC began to champion actions in 10 priority areas to transform the development model of Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing not only on what should be done in each area but also how it should be approached in terms of governance, management, coordination, planning and institutional quality.

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The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) was established by the resolution of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on February 25, 1948 and began operating in Santiago that same year. Subsequently, in 1984, the Council decided to rename it the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs

ECLAC Executive Secretary

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs was appointed Executive Secretary of ECLAC by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on September 1, 2022. He took office as of October 2, 2022. Previously he served as Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the International Labour Organization (ILO) from 2015-2018. He joined the ILO in 2005 as Executive Director of its Employment Sector and served as Assistant Director General for Policy from 2013 to 2015. Prior to joining the ILO, he served from 1998-2005 as Director of the Trade Unit of the Organization of American States.