The thirty-seventh session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) began today in Havana, Cuba, with a call to intensify the fight against inequality and increase the work being done to eradicate poverty.
The regional commission’s most important biennial meeting was inaugurated by Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of Cuba; António Guterres, UN Secretary-General; Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary; and Francisco Gúzman, Chief of Staff of the Office of the President of Mexico.
In his opening speech, President Miguel Díaz-Canel called for “advancing on regional integration and development with equality, which call on us to invert the pyramid in which the wealthiest 1% of the population in the region’s main countries appropriates an enormous share of the wealth for itself.”
He added that the “proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace maps out an essential path: We know there will be no development without peace, and no peace without development.”
During the ceremony, the president assumed the presidency pro tempore of the regional organization for the next two years on behalf of Cuba.
“We take on this task with the highest commitment and awareness of the challenges ahead, and will focus on continuing to promote cooperation among the countries of the region and the realization of the 2030 Agenda,” he stated.
He added that Cuba “will put all its efforts toward supporting ECLAC’s vocation to promote a fair, egalitarian and inclusive world that recognizes people as the core element of sustainable development.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscored that, through solid research and rigorous analysis, “ECLAC has been a progressive proponent and authorized voice of social justice in the world economy. It has consistently and courageously promoted a vision of development that considers equality to be the driving force behind growth.”
He added that, seventy years after its foundation, “ECLAC continues to be present where it always has been: on the front lines of the effort to promote egalitarian globalization, presenting empirically based policies, technical analyses and knowledge aimed at forging a progressive structural economic transformation.”
“This vision and this approach are more necessary than ever today. We know the challenges our world is facing. Globalization has brought numerous benefits. But too many people have been left behind,” he stated.
The most senior UN representative underlined that “ECLAC’s history is the history of the struggle for economic and social justice both in and outside the region. It is a story that reminds us we must never give up.”
“Let us commit to go on creating, go on working and go on fighting for egalitarian globalization that leaves no one behind,” he concluded.
In his remarks, Francisco Guzmán, Chief of Staff at Mexico’s Office of the President, highlighted that ECLAC is “the principal UN mechanism for promoting development in Latin America and the Caribbean,” and he underscored that, in seven decades, the organization has become “the most constructive space for dialogue on our challenges and for harnessing opportunities in our region.”
“Since its beginning, ECLAC has laid out the foundation of our common agenda and promoted the economic and social development of Latin America and the Caribbean based on three values that are always important, but that become even more relevant in times of tension and global uncertainty; I am referring to unity, solidarity and fraternity,” he asserted.
“ECLAC has represented a solid support for our nations on our path to better horizons of prosperity,” affirmed the representative of Mexico, the country that today handed over the presidency pro tempore of the organization to Cuba.
“Mexico is a proudly Latin American and Caribbean nation. As such, it was an honor to hold the ECLAC presidency. We work based on the conviction that united we have more opportunities to advance toward sustainable development,” he indicated.
ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, meanwhile, underscored that “inequality is not only unjust, it is inefficient and unsustainable, because it generates and sustains institutions that do not promote productivity or innovation by rewarding or punishing people based on class, ethnic group or gender; and because it generates a culture of privilege that reinforces inequalities, incorporates them into social relationships as something acceptable and natural, and reproduces them over time,” the senior United Nations official indicated.
She added that the organization she leads “promotes a path to move from a culture of privilege to one of equality, because the culture of privilege naturalizes social and cultural hierarchies and the consequent access to symbolic or material productive capital.”
“Today ECLAC reinforces its conviction and commitment to proposing agendas that offer an accurate reading, based on evidence and facts, and that takes careful note of the complex situation that we are presently facing,” the regional Commission’s top representative underscored.
Those attending ECLAC’s session include more than 25 ministers, deputy ministers and other senior authorities from more than 20 countries of the region, and representatives of the organization’s 46 member countries and 13 associate members.
In this space for regional debate, participants will discuss the economic, social and environmental issues that are most relevant to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and approve the Commission’s program of work for the next biennium.
On Wednesday, May 9, an informational meeting on the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters will be held, while the promotion of deeper Caribbean engagement with Latin America to pursue opportunities for growth and sustainable development will also be addressed.
In addition, a panel will take place on the challenges of middle-income countries ahead of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, May 10, Alicia Bárcena will officially present the document The Inefficiency of Inequality, which emphasizes that pro-equality policies not only produce positive effects in terms of social well-being but also help create an economic system that is propitious for learning, innovation, higher productivity and environmental protection.
In the closing ceremony, which will be held on Friday, May 11 after a dialogue between foreign ministers and other senior authorities from Latin America and the Caribbean, the meeting’s resolutions will be released publicly.
The full programme for ECLAC’s thirty-seventh session, as well as general information about the meeting, is available on the website https://periododesesiones.cepal.org/37/en.
You can follow all the details of the session on social media with the hashtags #igualdadALC and #equalityLAC.
For queries and to arrange interviews in Cuba, contact ECLAC’s Public Information Unit via Whatsapp at the following number: +52 1 55 5416 9297.
For other queries regarding journalistic coverage of the event, contact ECLAC’s Public Information Unit in Santiago, Chile.
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