Government representatives from 26 of the region’s countries who attended the First Session of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean called today for achieving a renewed agreement for international development cooperation with the aim of addressing the vulnerabilities of Latin America and the Caribbean linked to development challenges, an agreement in which no one is left behind and all people and countries must participate in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030, at the conclusion of the meeting held at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
The 300-plus participants in the Conference – which included a total of 100 government delegates, 35 experts from the UN System and regional and international organizations, and more than 60 representatives of civil society, the private sector and academia – advocated for economic integration and partnerships for growth, in addition to agreeing upon the promotion of innovative international cooperation mechanisms that go beyond the graduation criteria based on per capita Gross Domestic Product, such as multidimensional or vulnerability indicators. They also concurred on the need to strengthen synergies and partnerships with other stakeholders such as development banks, the private sector and regional and subregional integration mechanisms, as well as multi-stakeholder partnerships with civil society, local governments and academia on matters related to international development cooperation.
Furthermore, the new intergovernmental body – which is a subsidiary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the main purpose of which is to contribute to supporting Member States on South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives – established its first Presiding Officers, which is made up of Argentina as chair, and Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay as vice-chairs.
The event’s closing session was presided over by Sabina Frederic, President of the Argentine Agency for International Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance - White Helmets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina – who served as Chair of the Conference – and Raúl García-Buchaca, Deputy Executive Secretary for Management and Programme Analysis of ECLAC, on behalf of the Commission’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.
Sabina Frederic indicated that this conference has been a milestone that marks the start of a sphere of agreements on development cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean. “The presence and commitment of all the participating countries and governments shows the degree of involvement with cooperation issues in the region,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Raúl García-Buchaca said that in these two days of productive debate, participants agreed that the region must strengthen its regional, political and economic agreements; deepen its North-South, South-South, triangular, circular, regional and intraregional cooperation ties; and also more vigorously project a common voice vis-à-vis the world in order to face the challenges of a development that should be sustainable, multidimensional, multi-stakeholder and intersectional.
“There was also agreement on the need to promote partnerships on multiple levels, and of course, as has been said on multiple occasions, on the need to reconsider the criteria for development measurement and classification and on the urgency of mobilizing financial resources to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in a context in which development financing for middle-income countries faces growing difficulties,” he warned.
Earlier on the final day of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, participated on a panel entitled “Cooperation and the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU),” where he indicated that the third EU-CELAC Summit – to be held on July 17-18, 2023 in Brussels (Belgium) – is a highly strategic and important event for both regions, since the last Summit took place eight years ago, which is a very long time given the dizzying pace at which the world is changing.
“The new geoeconomic and geopolitical context calls on countries to analyze and understand trends and to redefine political, integration and economic growth partnerships. In this regard, the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) relationship has unique and very valuable traits,” he said. “The countries of the EU and LAC share many views about the type of development model to be aspired to; a sustainable, inclusive and productive model, with Welfare States characterized by universal social policies.”
“It is essential that Latin America and the Caribbean take advantage of opportunities for growth, job creation and sustainability, not just as a strategy to invigorate its growth, but also as areas of opportunity for investment and cooperation with partners like the EU,” the United Nations regional commission’s Executive Secretary emphasized.
In this area, Salazar-Xirinachs specified that ECLAC has identified a list of at least 13 areas of opportunity for investment and cooperation, especially with a partner such as the EU. All of these are areas of transformation, growth and transition to a new reality, and they include: 1) the geographic rearrangement of production; 2) the energy transition (solar, wind, green hydrogen, lithium); 3) electromobility; 4) the circular economy; 5) the bioeconomy (sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, bio-industrialization); 6) the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry; 7) the medical devices industry; 8) the export of modern services enabled by ICTs; 9) advanced manufacturing; 10) gender equality and the care society; 11) sustainable water management; 12) sustainable tourism; and 13) e-government.
In Resolution 1(I) of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, approved by participating delegates at the end of the Conference, the governments indicate that they take note of the document presented by ECLAC, Progress and challenges of South-South cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which reiterates that international development cooperation, and South-South and triangular cooperation in particular, are fundamental for sustainable development and for improving the population’s standard of living through the exchange of information, knowledge, technology, experiences and resource mobilization.
They also agree to promote, in the context of international development cooperation, a comprehensive approach to risk and disaster management, with a gender perspective, based on the principles of preparedness, prevention, identification, mitigation and response, to reduce vulnerabilities, strengthen resilience and enhance the capacity of humanitarian cooperation to respond to disasters and emergencies.
Finally, they decide in this resolution to hold the First Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago in 2024, on a date to be determined.