- Presentation by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary (PDF in Spanish).
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, stated this Friday that fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the post COVID-19 world necessitates a new global and regional compact that would include a renewed development model oriented towards greater well-being and environmental sustainability, in remarks made during a dialogue entitled “SDG acceleration as a road map for building back better,” which was organized by the government of Costa Rica.
The event was inaugurated by María del Pilar Garrido, the Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica (MIDEPLAN), and also featured the participation of Adriana Bolaños, Deputy Foreign Minister for Bilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, along with the United Nations Resident Coordinator in that country, Allegra Baiocchi.
In her welcome remarks, Minister Garrido stated that her country has protected capital spending during the COVID-19 crisis, promoting public-private partnerships, and she reviewed the importance of the transformative and multiplicative power that capital spending has in terms of growth and employment.
“Recovering better from the pandemic means emerging transformed, making a transition towards a more digitalized, resilient, sustainable and people-centered economy,” the Costa Rican authority emphasized.
Subsequently, Alicia Bárcena gave a presentation on perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean regarding the 2030 Agenda and the Decade of Action, in which she relayed the current economic and social situation in the region as well as the progress – and setbacks – that have been verified on fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in light of the crisis unleashed by COVID-19.
She underlined that Latin American and Caribbean countries have made important efforts in the current crisis. The fiscal effort has averaged 4.5% of regional GDP, accompanied by state credit guarantees of up to 10% of GDP. But she warned that this is not enough and there are limitations. Furthermore, interest payments are on the rise, along with spending needs.
“All the measures to confront COVID-19 must link the short term (the emergency) with the medium/long term. These must be articulated to shift the development model towards productive transformation, with sustainability and equality,” she emphasized.
During the event, Alicia Bárcena also highlighted the progress made by Costa Rica on fulfilling the 2030 Agenda, having presented its Voluntary National Review twice already before the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (in 2017 and 2020). Among these advances, she pointed to the adoption of the National Pact for the Advancement of the SDGs (2016); the existence of a cross-sector institutional structure composed of the Presidency of the Republic, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship (MREC), and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE); and its progress towards decarbonizing the economy by 2050, with sustainable production and consumption chains, among others.
The senior United Nations official recalled that ECLAC has made five concrete proposals to connect the emergency with the recovery and the Decade of Action: 1) Provide an emergency basic income for 6 months to the entire population living in poverty (equivalent to 1 poverty line), extending repayment and grace periods on credits to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); 2) Invest 1% of GDP in a basic digital basket to ensure universal digital inclusion; 3) Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies that would sustain a longer period of spending with non-conventional national and international instruments, such as the Fund to Alleviate COVID-19 Economics (FACE), which was presented on this very day (Friday, September 25) at a high-level event led by the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado; 4) Promote international solidarity through this FACE fund and the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), relief for debt and interest payments in the Caribbean and the creation of a resilience fund; and 5) Implement recovery plans with job creation, underpinned by climate action, environmental sustainability, nature-based solutions and basic infrastructure in rural and urban areas.
“The post COVID-19 world necessitates a new global and regional compact to fulfill the 2030 Agenda. Humanity has to provide global public goods such as health, peace, financial stability and climate security,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary stated. “We need industrial policies that allow for strengthening productive capacities and generating new strategic sectors, and to move towards greater productive, trade and technological integration with technological research networks.”
“We must also strive for a new universal social protection system with a basic income, which creates certainty among citizens, and towards inclusive and sustainable international governance based on the 2030 Agenda,” she emphasized.
Finally, Alicia Bárcena indicated that under Costa Rica’s presidency pro tempore – which will run from 2020 to 2022 – ECLAC will actively participate in five crucial activities that will set the international agenda in the coming months: the Meeting of Heads of State on Financing for Development in the context of COVID-19, which will be held next Tuesday, September 29; support for the FACE initiative presented by Costa Rica; ECLAC’s 38th session, which will be held virtually on October 26-28, where participants will discuss a recovery strategy for the region, with sustainability and equality; the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, due to be held in April 2021; and support for South-South Cooperation to follow up on the United Nations Conference on this issue (BAPA+40).