Development cooperation is an essential mechanism for fostering international and regional solidarity and, at the same time, it is a solution for confronting global crises, according to the authorities gathered today at the First Session of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is taking place through Wednesday, May 31 at the central headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.
The intergovernmental meeting – which brings together representatives of the region’s countries, the United Nations System, and regional and international organizations – was inaugurated by José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, and Adriana Cristina Bolaños Argueta, Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica.
Special statements were made during the event by authorities such as Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina (by video message); Pilar Cancela, Secretary of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain; and Claudia Sanhueza, Undersecretary for International Economic Relations of Chile.
“Latin America and the Caribbean must strengthen its regional, political and economic agreements, deepen its intraregional cooperation ties and more vigorously promote a common voice vis-à-vis the world to confront global asymmetries. It must also promote partnerships for development between multiple actors and sectors, as well as on multiple levels, including North-South, South-South, triangular and regional,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary affirmed in his opening remarks.
He noted that the region is facing a deterioration in its investment and production conditions and in its population’s economic and social conditions. Middle-income countries have been affected by cascading crises, and efforts to contain these crises have had economic and social effects. In that context, he stressed that development cooperation is a solution for confronting global and regional crises and he urged for taking into account the vulnerabilities specific to countries and subregions, in order to promote respectful and suitable regional cooperation and solidarity for sustainable and resilient development.
Furthermore, he emphasized that in order to tackle countries’ particular challenges, the time has come to reconsider the criteria for development measurement and classification.
Finally, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs said that “ECLAC, with the 2030 Agenda as a road map, suggests that cooperation within the work areas defined by countries should lead to transformative initiatives that have a forward-looking vision, are based on data, have synergistic capacity, would transform reality and that can invite and inspire multi-stakeholder participation.”
Adriana Cristina Bolaños Argueta, meanwhile, underscored that the First Session of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation marks a historic regional milestone in the area of regional cooperation.
“At a time when the world is trying to intensify activities for response and recovery, and to deal with the threat to our existence posed by climate change, South-South and triangular cooperation are more essential than ever,” she stated.
Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina – the country serving as Chair of the Conference – affirmed that South-South and triangular cooperation are relevant tools, since they contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieving the overall goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
“The global challenges we are facing reflect the importance that cooperation has acquired in the region. With fewer resources going into cooperation for middle-income countries, the Global South’s solidarity has been crucial,” he stressed.
Pilar Cancela, Secretary of State for International Cooperation at Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, highlighted that South-South cooperation has developed very broadly in Latin America and the Caribbean, thanks to the high degree of institutionalization of cooperation and to the institutions’ determined efforts to strengthen ties between countries.
Claudia Sanhueza, Chile’s Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, meanwhile, stated that the global and regional context has made it more difficult for middle-income countries to obtain financing for development. That is why it is essential to strengthen the institutional framework in the area of cooperation to make it more strategic, collaborative and effective, she emphasized.
Following the meeting’s inauguration, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary made a presentation entitled Progress and challenges of South-South cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which he reiterated 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. He added that, today more than ever, South-South cooperation is called upon to devise transformative alternatives.
“On the basis of States’ leadership, cooperation can be strengthened by joining forces with multiple actors, such as international organizations, development banks, civil society, the academic sector and the private sector. That is where the enormous importance of this meeting lies,” he concluded.
During the First Session of the Regional Conference on South-South Cooperation, participants will analyze the challenges of international development cooperation in the new global context and other related matters of interest. On Wednesday, May 31, member countries will align their positions and analyze cooperation mechanisms in view of the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union, which will take place on July 17-18, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.