Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), reiterated today her call for deepening integration and regional cooperation efforts to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the current global context, marked by geopolitical changes, trade tensions, growing inequality, massive migration toward developed countries, impacts of the technological revolution, and the effects of climate change.
Greater integration and cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean would allow for strengthening intraregional trade, reducing financial risks (including climate-related ones), better combating tax evasion and illicit funds, closing gaps with regard to technology and innovation, investing in infrastructure and digital connectivity, ensuring safe migration and promoting an environmental big push in economies, Bárcena indicated this Friday during the Dialogue of the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions with the UN General Assembly Second Committee, 73rd session, held at UN headquarters in New York.
If the mechanisms for integration and regional cooperation were bolstered, Bárcena stressed, officials could further productive integration and the diversification and sophistication of exports, reducing the vulnerability of economies to commodities prices and to protectionism, promoting the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises, building a single digital market, and developing regional and subregional technological centers to foster green industries, to name some of the advantages.
In addition to acting as moderator in her capacity as Coordinator of the Regional Commissions, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary made remarks during the debate along with Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), who participated virtually; Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); and Mounir Tabet, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Growing inequality is one of the main challenges at a global level, Bárcena indicated during her presentation entitled “Integration and regional cooperation: foundations of the 2030 Agenda.” This obligates countries to jointly address economic and transboundary issues that affect the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which among other things seek to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality in all its forms, she stated.
During her remarks, Bárcena highlighted Central America as a model of energy integration and requested cooperation with Caribbean countries to relieve their public debt and help them build resilience to climate change.
ECLAC’s top official also referred to current efforts to rethink the scope of development and the nature of international cooperation, as well as to the Commission’s leadership in the debate regarding the concept of “development in transition,” which seeks to respond to the needs of countries that achieve greater income levels but still face structural challenges that prevent them from achieving sustainable development with equality.
Bárcena emphasized that the particular needs associated with the development of small island states in the Caribbean, landlocked and middle-income countries in the region call for creating new approaches and innovative cooperation tools, including South-South and triangular cooperation, to complement more traditional instruments.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, she said, it is essential to change the current polluting patterns of production and consumption; increase productivity and reduce technological gaps and productive heterogeneity through active industrial policies; improve the quality of institutions and fight corruption, putting an end to the culture of privilege; and build universal social protection systems.
“The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant efforts to integrate the SDGs into national development plans and programs; the great challenge from here forward is to advance on the means of implementation, especially with regard to financing,” Bárcena warned.
In subsequent remarks by countries, the representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean thanked ECLAC’s work as a regional think tank and as the Technical Secretariat of relevant intergovernmental platforms such as the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, created as the regional mechanism for follow-up and review of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as well as the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Escazú Agreement, signed by 15 of the region’s countries so far.
In the context of the reform of the United Nations development system, the senior official put at the service of member countries the analytical work and convening capacity of ECLAC, as an inter-agency regional platform of the UN system to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.