(21 November 2013) The 13th Conference of Ministers and Heads of Planning of Latin America and the Caribbean began today in Brasilia with a call for the regional integration agenda to be strengthened to make progress towards sustainable and inclusive development based on equality.
As she opened the Conference, which is being held on Thursday and Friday in the Brazilian capital, the host country's Minister of Planning, Budget and Management, Miriam Belchior, stated that integration is a strategic requirement for reducing the asymmetries affecting the region and for successfully positioning its economies and societies in an increasingly competitive international environment.
According to the Minister, "The political dimension of integration has provided the region's countries with the unity needed to respond to the challenging context of the 21st century", in which the world's largest economic blocs will grow and become stronger by using modern and integrated infrastructure.
In this context, infrastructure and logistics are fundamental drivers of the regional development agenda, according to Ms. Belchior. She added "The region's territorial dimensions demand a physical integration that facilitates the movement of people and integrated productive growth".
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, who was also involved in the Conference opening, called on the region's countries to transform the growth of recent decades into a long-lasting and inclusive process, and to promote a new culture of regional integration to drive forward the post-2015 development agenda.
The senior United Nations official emphasized that the last 20 years had seen the region achieve positive results in terms of growth, job creation and formalization and reductions in poverty and inequality. However, there she said there was a question mark over the sustainability of the current model and its capacity to reduce economic and social segmentation.
In her opinion, the structural heterogeneity and development gaps underlying the entrenched social inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean are ongoing problems, while the level of public and private investment does not allow for rapid and sustainable development.
Alicia Bárcena therefore called for an improvement in the quality and intensity of State efforts to close these gaps that are linked to factors including income, employment and productivity.
According to the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, "State policies should have a long-term vision. Development planning is back", and she encouraged the region's countries to use this tool to build a new shared and far-reaching vision for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Conference, organized by ECLAC and the Government of Brazil, will also present the main results of the Ministerial Planning Dialogues, which were an initiative of the United Nations regional commission to gather information from relevant Ministers about the current state of national planning development systems.
The aim of the project is to act as a platform for cooperation between planning authorities and the dissemination of relevant practices in the region.
Once the Conference has closed on Friday, the Regional Council for Planning (CRP) will be opened for Ministers and Heads of Planning Departments in the region to discuss planning as a tool for coordinating various actors and ensuring the governance of development in the region.
- Words by Miriam Belchior, Minister of Planning, Budget and Management of Brazil (in Portuguese).
- Inaugural speech by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary (in Spanish).
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