Long-term planning requires a paradigm shift in the development model, the prioritization of territorialization and the strengthening of multilateralism with a view to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ministers and heads of planning from Latin American and Caribbean countries agreed today as they gathered at the XVI Conference of Ministers and Heads of Planning, which is being held in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The event was inaugurated by Álvaro García, Director of Uruguay’s Planning and Budget Office; Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); and Mireia Villar, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in that country.
The Conference is being attended by senior authorities from 24 countries in the region, seven of which are Caribbean nations.
In his remarks, Álvaro García noted that planning is related to the Sustainable Development Goals in all areas, and he stressed the importance of giving it a long-term perspective. In that sense, he highlighted the extent of the “National Development Strategy, Uruguay 2050,” presented on Tuesday, August 27 in Montevideo and which lays the foundations for that country to move towards sustainable development.
Furthermore, he expressed appreciation for the support that ECLAC provides to the region’s countries. “ECLAC is a great beacon that illuminates the way for us, with evidence, professional work, and necessary and essential information for designing better public policies,” he stated.
ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, meanwhile, underscored the relevance of planning for discussing, projecting, rethinking and asserting the image of the country and of the region that we want.
She emphasized that the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, and the Escazú Agreement – among other international instruments – provide the necessary frameworks for all actors involved in development to dialogue and reach agreement about the state policies needed for the region to achieve development with equality and sustainability.
Alicia Bárcena also stressed the urgency of a multilateralism that strengthens democracy as a response compatible with the 2030 Agenda and that strengthens trust in international cooperation and collective action for the provision of global and regional public goods.
Mireia Villar, meanwhile, highlighted the work undertaken by Uruguay, which to date has presented three voluntary national reviews to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which is held each year at United Nations headquarters in New York. “This is of enormous help to understand where Uruguay is positioned,” she stated.
Subsequently, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary delivered opening remarks in which she presented a regional assessment on an economic, social and environmental level and addressed the state of planning for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
During her remarks, the most senior representative of the United Nations regional organization recalled that the 2008 crisis marked a turning point in the economic model generating a hyper-globalization that has led to financialization with high risks; changes in global wealth and growing inequalities in middle-income countries; and societies that are not investing in the future.
“We thought that the 2008 crisis had passed and that the global situation was going to improve, but 11 years later, underlying problems remain. This has led to the crisis of multilateralism, of migration and of democracy,” Alicia Bárcena stated.
She noted that the world today is undergoing a recessionary bias in terms of growth and trade, and she warned that inequalities are no longer between the center and the periphery, but rather within countries.
“Growth is mediocre in general in the region. Twenty-one of the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have seen their economies decelerate and we have the greatest indebtedness in history, which is not generating greater productive investment,” she said.
She added that tax revenue in the region’s countries goes to paying debt and its interest, mainly in the Caribbean, where 60% of its GDP is used to service external debt commitments. “That is unsustainable! That is why ECLAC has been proposing debt relief for the Caribbean,” she indicated.
Alicia Bárcena applauded the region’s efforts to fight poverty but insisted that inequality persists: Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be the most unequal region in the world, where the richest decile concentrates 30% of all resources, while the poorest quintile accounts for just 6%.
In that vein, she stressed the importance of prioritizing the territorialization of planning, “because the territory does matter.”
“Poverty is 20 percentage points greater in rural areas and affects children and adolescents to a larger extent. In the case of indigenous peoples, poverty is 23 percentage points greater,” she warned.
Finally, she called for implementing a long-term vision of planning for development, which necessitates a paradigm shift.
“We must move from a development pattern with environmental crises and inequalities towards a new model, which includes an environmental big push,” she concluded.
The Conference of Ministers, which will come to a close on Thursday, August 29, will give way to the XVII Meeting of the Regional Council for Planning, the intergovernmental subsidiary body that guides the activities of ECLAC’s Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning (ILPES). This Meeting will take place on August 29 and 30, also in Montevideo.
In the framework of this event, ECLAC will present the position document “Planning for Sustainable Territorial Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.”