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Reinforcing Complementarity in the Social Agenda of Latin America and the Caribbean

2 June 2014|Op-ed

Op-ed by Martín Hopenhayn, Director of ECLAC's Social Development Division, published in ECLAC Notes Nº 80 (June 2014).

In one of the most important resolutions approved during ECLAC's Thirty-fifth session, held recently in Lima, Peru, the governments of the region's countries supported the creation of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will become a new subsidiary body of this regional United Nations commission.

It is no coincidence that countries in the region signed an agreement to establish this conference at this historical turning point. It confirms that social matters have gained protagonism and centrality in both national and regional agendas, and that these countries aim to foster mutual learning and transfer abilities among themselves.

ECLAC has contributed to the social agenda's centrality, supporting countries in the implementation of social protection and care systems as well as in the study of redistributive policies. The strong impulse that our institution has provided on social issues-with a vision of cooperation, transfer and information exchange-and the countries' will to have a regional conference that addresses these matters, are milestones that mutually reinforce each other.

The conference will contribute to progress on social development policies and activities and will seek to promote international, regional and bilateral cooperation among national offices and institutions and regional and international organizations to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.

The new entity, which will convene every two years and whose first meeting will take place in Peru during the second half of 2015, will also serve to examine multidimensional poverty and make progress on the measurement of poverty, inequality and structural gaps-issues that are at the heart of concerns about better development in our region.

With this conference ECLAC's intergovernmental architecture reinforces the complementary nature of its tasks, since it will carry out joint projects with other bodies already in existence, such as the Statistical Conference of the Americas (SCA-ECLAC), the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, among others.

In the same way, the Conference on Social Development will foster synergies with other regional forums, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and it will contribute the regional perspective to debates and proposals analyzed by the United Nations Commission for Social Development.

It is clear that in Latin America and the Caribbean the time for equality has come. That is our goal, our horizon. The new Conference on Social Development will undoubtedly be a very important tool for achieving that objective.