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Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean Bolster their Cooperation to Build a New Narrative for Development with Emphasis on Economies in Transition

The EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero and ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, participated in a high-level dialogue held in Santiago.

4 October 2018|Press Release

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Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC (center), with Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union (left), and Roberto Ampuero, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC (center), with Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union (left), and Roberto Ampuero, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile.
Photo: ECLAC

The complexity of the distinct challenges faced by Latin American and Caribbean countries along their path to development requires a new cooperation narrative that gives special consideration to so-called “economies in transition.” With this aim, countries of the region and those of the European Union have bolstered their complementarities and efforts to develop new forms of cooperation and go beyond traditional instruments, government authorities and representatives of international organizations indicated today during the high-level dialogue “Development in transition: development challenges in a changing world”, held at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

The event included keynote addresses by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development of the European Union (EU); and Roberto Ampuero, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile. It continued with an exchange between the ministers, deputy ministers and ambassadors from numerous countries who are participating in the “Development in transition week,” organized by ECLAC, the EU, the Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the government of Chile.

In her inaugural address, Alicia Bárcena stressed the need to explore a new set of cooperation modalities, such as capacity development, knowledge exchange and technological transference, which allow for identifying and working on the main concrete needs of each country, prioritizing specific development objectives and necessities.

“Today we have the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a civilizing and universal agenda adopted in 2015. But the world has changed profoundly in these years and that is why its implementation requires adopting new cooperation schemes and new instruments, especially to address the particular challenges that so-called middle-income countries face, to close critical gaps, and to mobilize resources for development,” Bárcena stated.

“This points to the importance of the efforts made by the European Union, the OECD Development Center and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to rethink development and cooperation and try to build an innovative conceptual framework that will allow us to include all actors, the least advanced, those of middle income and those with greater income, in a narrative that we have called in principle ‘development in transition,’” she added.

The most senior representative of the United Nations regional organization emphasized the need to debate about the “graduation” process that the majority of countries in the region have suffered, according to their per capita income, and which keeps them from utilizing traditional Official Development Assistance (ODA), accessing concessional funds or obtaining differential treatment in trade matters.

“‘Graduating’ in terms of per capita income does not mean graduating in terms of development… More elevated levels of per capita income do not necessarily imply lower levels of poverty, fewer inequalities or greater levels of development and well-being. Development must be understood more as a multidimensional and complex process, which consists of tackling the structural problems in a given country, which has its own history and culture. Latin America and the Caribbean offers in this context a perfect scenario for building a new narrative for development,” Bárcena underscored.

“Within this new paradigm of international cooperation, facing global challenges will require a deeper and more committed relationship between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean. Both regions are called on to play a crucial role in the multilateral agenda with a view to more sustainable and inclusive development and, with the support of the OECD Development Center, we propose advancing toward new forms of cooperation,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary stated.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Neven Mimica recognized the long-lasting and strong ties shared by Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, which are manifested, for example, in the great flow of European Foreign Direct Investment toward the region and in its welcoming of students. “Through centuries of exchange, cooperation and trust, we have developed a shared global vision and values,” he highlighted.

“We want to move forward, as equals, in a mutually supportive partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean at the center of global governance,” Mimica stated, indicating as well the need to work better with middle-income countries in order to leave no one behind, as proposed by the 2030 Agenda. He also highlighted the initiative on development in transition that the EU is carrying out jointly with ECLAC and the OECD.

Along with recognizing that development is a multidimensional and complex phenomenon, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development indicated that “we need to think how to deepen our links with countries that are graduating, but have not yet overcome a number of vulnerabilities that make the fight against poverty and inequalities more difficult.”

“Given our history of successful cooperation and the significant progress made, Latin America and the Caribbean is a natural choice for a new approach to international cooperation, an approach we call development in transition,” Mimica explained. In this sense, he highlighted the new “Regional Facility for Development in Transition”, an instrument developed by the EU, ECLAC and the OECD that seeks to explore how this new approach to international cooperation can be applied.

In his remarks, Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero emphasized that international development cooperation is much more than Official Assistance (ODA) and is evolving in its nature, modalities and actors. “We understand international cooperation as part of a strategy of relations and political and technical dialogue that allows for strengthening capacities, fostering mutual learning and contributing to the transformation of institutions and also societies,” he stated.

Ampuero sustained that development must be seen as a continual process in which the countries that make up the international cooperation system face challenges that must be addressed jointly by all sectors of society. “In a solitary fashion, States cannot grapple with the commitments adopted around the 2030 Agenda. We need the participation and collaboration of global, national and local actors to be able to move forward on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals,” he indicated.

With regard to the issue of countries that “graduate,” he specified that the criterion of per capita income is being questioned in the region. “GDP is important, but it’s not everything. Chile has steadfastly participated in the efforts to make this situation known and has posed this at the OECD Development Assistance Committee,” he said.

“The framework that orients the graduation perspective is not coherent with the 2030 Agenda, leaving the countries that have graduated in isolation to face the challenges of development, perceiving their situation as one of solitary competitors; successful but surrounded by solitude. For that reason, we understand development in transition as a joint, shared, pro-active, flexible and dialogue-based path, to adjust the conditions to the efforts being made by these countries. A suit made ahead of time won’t work for us; the suits have to be custom-tailored,” he stated.

The high-level dialogue held at ECLAC continued with remarks by ministers, deputy ministers and ambassadors from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, who are participating at the organization’s headquarters in the various activities that form part of “Development in transition week,” which will conclude this Friday, October 5.

During the event, ECLAC and the OECD Development Center presented the document Emerging challenges and shifting paradigms: New perspectives on international cooperation for development, which poses a timely debate about how to ensure that international relations are more relevant, receptive and suited to the purpose of “leaving no one behind.”