Triangular cooperation, suited to national development priorities, can contribute to giving an environmental push to the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean and to rethinking regional climate policy, taking into account aspects such as investment and technological change, Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), sustained this Wednesday, September 27, in Lima, Peru.
This alternative, she said, arises in a context of weakening multilateralism and difficulties to mobilize international resources due to the classification of Latin American and Caribbean countries as middle income nations.
Bárcena was one of the speakers on the second day of the IV Regional Conference on Prospects for Triangular Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean: The Role of Triangular Cooperation in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda – Potentialities and Challenges, organized by the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Peruvian International Cooperation Agency (APCI) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
In several forums, ECLAC’s most senior representative has underscored the potential of triangular cooperation (which can be used along with South-South cooperation in a complementary way) due to its capacity for harnessing the comparative advantages of each partner that is involved, generating shared benefits and favoring the possibility of replicating projects.
In Lima, Bárcena sustained that Latin America and the Caribbean, like other regions, must confront problems stemming from phenomena such as climate change and the energy crisis, high rates of urbanization, the progressive ageing of the population and the low productivity of companies, especially of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which concentrate the largest proportion of employment.
In this sense, triangular cooperation can support the development of smart cities with quality urban services and public transportation, promote the use of renewable energies and contribute to the financing of innovation and new manufacturing processes in the region, to name a few areas, said the senior United Nations representative, adding that Germany has played an important role in promoting this new collaboration mechanism among countries.
The low levels of public and private investment in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (compared with those of Asia Pacific, for example) have an impact on the productivity of economies and limit the structural change that is needed to move toward a new development pattern, jeopardizing the social achievements made in the last few decades in terms of reducing poverty and inequality, Bárcena emphasized.
This progressive structural change that ECLAC proposes, she said, must be carried out through an environmental big push, meaning a package of investments in strategic sectors to move toward growth paths that are low in carbon.
The region, especially the Caribbean, is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change (although it is only responsible for 9.9% of greenhouse gas emissions). According to ECLAC’s data, between 1970 and 2016 climate-related natural disasters have caused $340 billion dollars’ worth of damage in the Caribbean. And of this total, 14.5% has occurred in the last two years.
ECLAC’s proposal to reduce Caribbean countries’ external debt burden through a climate resilience fund also emerges as a significant opportunity for triangular cooperation, Bárcena indicated, but she added that “capitalizing on all these opportunities necessitates continued regional dialogue.”
Inter-sectoral and inter-institutional coordination and the participation of all stakeholders (governments, the private sector and civil society) are key to the success of triangular cooperation, Bárcena concluded, expressing ECLAC’s willingness to support these processes by putting its technical capabilities and convening power at the service of the region’s countries and their partners.