Speaking today at a keynote lecture given in Buenos Aires, Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said that the region faces situational and structural challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including stagnating economic and social indicators, high levels of inequality and vulnerability to climate change.
Her lecture, titled Challenges for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was hosted by Torcuato Di Tella University at the auditorium of its Alcorta Campus. The senior United Nations official was accompanied during her presentation by the Executive Secretary of Argentina’s National Council for the Coordination of Social Policies, Gabriela Agosto.
“The region is facing economic and social stagnation,” said Alicia Bárcena, who went on to report that Latin America and the Caribbean were facing low rates of growth (with ECLAC projecting a figure of 1.3% for 2017) and four years of accumulated reductions in their exports. In addition, the region has low levels of productivity and competitiveness and its revenue collection is weak, with a tax avoidance rate in 2015 equal to 6.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP), she said.
That is compounded by persistent poverty —estimated in 2015 to affect 175 million Latin Americans— and by pronounced levels of inequality and vulnerability to climate change and environmental decay, the repercussions of which are also unequal and impact more severely the underprivileged segments of the population, added the regional organization’s Executive Secretary.
To meet those challenges, Alicia Bárcena said, as a strategy for implementing the 2030 Agenda, ECLAC proposes forging new alliances and public-private partnerships at the global, regional and national levels to promote structural change based on a big environmental push, with learning and innovation-intensive investments in low-carbon sectors, which will in turn reactivate economic growth, improve employment quality and expand social protection.
As the Executive Secretary explained, this strategic proposal for the 2030 Agenda also poses challenges related to implementation mechanisms, particularly as regards funding, technology, fair trade and access to information, the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national development plans and budgets, the establishment of indicators for measuring progress with those goals, intersectoral and inter-institutional coordination and the involvement of all social actors to reach the targets set.
In the governmental arena, Alicia Bárcena also called for growth to be boosted through countercyclical policies focused on public and private investment and in line with the big environmental push proposed by ECLAC, for the development of industrial and technological policies to improve productivity and for intelligent fiscal adjustments to reduce tax evasion and safeguard social spending.
To explore further the challenges that the 2030 Agenda poses in the region, the head of ECLAC invited her audience to follow the discussions that are to take place at the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, the regional mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which is to take place in Mexico City on 26 to 28 April.
During her visit to Argentina, on 6 and 7 April, Alicia Bárcena also attended the meeting of the 2017 World Economic Forum on Latin America taking place in Buenos Aires. At that event she spoke in discussions on economic prospects, the digital economy, urbanization trends, the regional institutional architecture and other topics.