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Fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean is at a Critical Point: Alicia Bárcena

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary presented an analysis of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the Forum of the Countries of Latin America 2019.

26 April 2019|News

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Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, during her presentation in the Forum of the Countries of LAC 2019
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, during her presentation in the Forum of the Countries of LAC 2019.
Photo: Carlos Vera/ECLAC

“We find ourselves at a critical point; it is important to send a very clear message about what is truly needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region,” the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) indicated this Friday, April 26, on the last day of the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development.

The senior United Nations official delivered a presentation in which she reviewed the degree of progress made by the region’s countries on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the road map that the governments of the world approved in 2015 to put an end to poverty and hunger and provide greater well-being to all citizens by the year 2030.

“We know where we want to go, but implementation has been difficult for us. There are various pending issues, such as achieving greater ownership of the 2030 Agenda on the part of economic and social actors, finding new drivers of growth, improving distributive results, its financing, closing technological gaps and changing the conversation with civil society and the private sector. The biggest risk is that we move from a peak of indifference to paralysis,” Alicia Bárcena stated.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary explained that a strategy must be sought for cooperating on issues that extend beyond national spaces and agreeing upon new approaches to inequality, environmental crisis, migrations, the technological revolution and the reduction of conflicts, all of which demand new forms of multilateral cooperation. Furthermore, macroeconomic and fiscal policies must be coordinated. “In sum, a multilateralism that strengthens democracy is a response that is compatible with the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement,” she said.

The analysis presented by Bárcena included projections to 2030 for 20 indicators of progress on 15 of the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Here, five dynamics in regional trends were identified. First, the target aimed at reducing the mortality rate of children under 5 years of age to fewer than 25 for every 1,000 live births (target 3.2) has already been achieved. Second, the percentage of people who use the Internet (target 17.8) is on the correct path. In contrast, the target aimed at achieving universal and equitable access to drinking water at a price that is affordable to all (target 6.1) will not be reached.

In addition, the trend on access to secondary education is not enough for all children to be able to complete this level in a timely way by 2030 (target 4.1), and the positive trend seen on reducing the percentage marking the prevalence of undernourishment (target 2.1) came to a halt. Meanwhile, the recent economic and distributive performance is insufficient for eliminating extreme poverty: in the last 10 years, Latin America’s GDP has grown by less than 2% annually (1.7%). At the same time, the Gini coefficient – which measures income distribution – declined 0.9% annually over a period of 10 years. Nonetheless, in the last three years, the pace of that decline slowed to just 0.6% annually.

“Halving poverty requires greater growth and better distribution. We have to grow, and most certainly improve redistributive scenarios. If there is not greater equality, it will be very difficult to achieve the poverty targets,” Bárcena sustained.

Definitively, “without a change in the development pattern, the targets of various SDGs will not be achieved. Here, policies for equality and growth are indispensable. We also need an environmental big push with policies on industry, investment and innovation for progressive structural change,” she said.

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary stressed that the 2030 Agenda requires a new multilateralism that strengthens trust in international cooperation and collective action for the provision of global and regional public goods; increases resilience to financial, trade and technological shocks; universalizes welfare states and protects the rights of minorities; strengthens the diffuse interests of the majority over the interests of groups that are organized or that concentrate capital and technology; and strengthens deliberative capacities, transparency and informed debate by citizens as a whole.

Previously at the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries on Sustainable Development, an briefing session was held on the 2019 Climate Summit, which will take place in New York on September 23, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.

At this session, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for this Summit, ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, indicated that it is very important to highlight the urgency and concern regarding the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which calls for limiting the rise in the planet’s temperature to below the mark of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The situation is complicated on a global level because there is a loss of leadership and political will. The Secretary-General (of the UN) wants very concrete solutions to be proposed for the challenges we face,” he stated.

“There are countries that have been able to reduce emissions, but in parallel we will make adaptation efforts, striking a balance between mitigation and adaptation. The climate agenda has to be an integral part of national development plans. Countries can grow and fight climate change at the same time,” De Alba contended.