To achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the structural gaps that perpetuate low growth and inequality in the region must be closed, said Hugo Beteta, director of the Subregional Headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Mexico.
Upon inaugurating the international seminar “Inequality Gaps in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,” Beteta indicated that ECLAC and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) resolved to create a regional agenda on a new rurality that involves two narratives: one about new rurality and another about structural gaps.
The changes in the definition of rurality in its aspects relating to demographics, technology, insertion in globalization and production, and with regard to climate change risks, have not been sufficiently contemplated in the public policies of countries which, on the whole, continue to view urbanization and industrialization as the only paths for achieving development. In contrast, the ECLAC-IFAD project promotes a view of the rural sphere as an innovative path to development for territories.
The second narrative addresses the notion that upon achieving the per capita GDP of middle-income countries, nations must “graduate” from development assistance, without considering that 72% of the world’s poor population lives in middle-income countries.
“Even with growth in per capita GDP, inequality will not disappear if the structural gaps that hinder fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda are not addressed,” Beteta stated. “Prioritizing growth without addressing inequality will not allow for achieving the targets.”
Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy, Laura Fernández, said that her country’s government has designed public policies to ensure opportunities for all, recognizing that reducing inequality requires a more equitable distribution of resources with a cross-cutting gender perspective and the narrowing of gaps in territorial development.
We recognize, Fernández said, that the SDGs give us a solid framework and that achieving them entails joint work by all national institutions, along with contributions from organizations like ECLAC, which is a “marvelous seedbed of knowledge that we have to take advantage of and get to know its good practices.”
Seidy Álvarez, Chair of the Board of Pensions and Retirement of the National Magisterium (JUPEMA) of Costa Rica, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic accentuated and exposed the reality facing the most vulnerable populations, and she listed the challenges that face the country in terms of education, the digital divide, its population’s accelerated ageing process, unequal territorial development, and the disadvantaged situation of women, the indigenous population and the migrant population.
“This prompts us to reflect and make clear that the public policies to be implemented must contemplate the diversity and complexity of these challenges, they must establish differentiated solutions suited to the reality and necessity of each territory and its needs so that we can truly talk about effectively closing gaps,” Álvarez said.
The international seminar “Inequality Gaps in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean” will continue on Wednesday, June 21, analyzing the following topics: inequality gaps in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean; poverty and income inequality; welfare and social protection gaps; rural inequality gaps; gaps in innovation and sustainability; gaps in investment and productivity; and data for measuring inequality gaps.
Participating in this event are academics, researchers and public officials from the region.