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Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development Begins with a Call to Strengthen Multilateralism and Regional Cooperation

The third meeting of the gathering was inaugurated today at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, with the presence of representatives from all the region’s countries.

24 April 2019|Press Release

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From left to right, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba, Rodrigo Malmierca; ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Carolina Valdivia.
From left to right, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba, Rodrigo Malmierca; ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Carolina Valdivia.
Photo: Carlos Vera/ECLAC.

With a call to strengthen multilateralism, democracy and regional cooperation, the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development was inaugurated today at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile. This event brings together representatives of government, civil society, international organizations, the private sector and academia to review the progress and challenges related to implementing the 2030 Agenda in the region.

The high-level event – organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the government of Cuba, in its role as president of the regional organization – is being attended by delegates from the region’s 33 countries and will continue through Friday, April 26.

At the inaugural ceremony, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, emphasized that the third meeting of this regional mechanism is being held amid the increased weakening of international cooperation, prompted by defensive policies taken in response to the negative impacts of hyperglobalization. This is compounded by eroding trust in democracy and some of its foundational values, in many developed and developing countries.

The response to this, she indicated, is to persevere on cooperation and international understanding, promoting trade and integration and strengthening dialogue and cooperation between countries.

“It is proven that multilateralism at an international level is compatible with strengthening democracy at a national level when multilateral agreements meet certain conditions, that is, when they further the diffuse interests of the many over the concentrated interests of the most powerful groups, when they protect the rights of minorities and the most vulnerable sectors, and strengthen the deliberative capacities of governments, the private sector and civil society, stimulating a debate that combines transparency, diverse views and analytical capacity, among other things,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary sustained.

The Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development gives tangible form to multilateralism, to the vocation for integration, and to enthusiasm for regional cooperation, Alicia Bárcena emphasized.

She added that, through the Forum, the region’s countries have learned about comparative experiences and better practices, which have supported their national progress on implementation of the 2030 Agenda; they have also deepened their dialogue with the multiple stakeholders involved and identified capacities and opportunities for peer cooperation.

ECLAC’s most senior representative highlighted that today, 29 of the region’s countries have institutional mechanisms for coordination, the work of which is based on legal instruments that define their scope and objectives. This institutional advance was accompanied by the preparation of voluntary national reports that describe the activities of these mechanisms for coordination and the progress made on implementing the 2030 Agenda.

“If the 22 voluntary national reports already presented are taken into account, along with the interest expressed by 10 countries in presenting reports during the 2019-2020 period, then within five years of the 2030 Agenda’s approval, the region will boast 32 reports produced by 24 countries. What’s more, since only 17 countries worldwide will have presented at least two reports between 2016 and 2020, the fact that 7 of them will be from Latin America and the Caribbean shows the region’s commitment to the Agenda,” she stated.

Meanwhile, in her remarks, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Carolina Valdivia, indicated that the regional Forum has consolidated itself as a space for dialogue and exchanging experiences and good practices along the pathway toward sustainable development.

She added that “the implementation of the 2030 Agenda has proven to be a process of constant learning, and for that reason, we value spaces such as these.”

“Chile has adapted its institutional framework to foster a more comprehensive and cross-cutting view and to be able to achieve the Agenda’s goals. There are challenges, but we have important resources for tackling them, like an active civil society, academia and the private sector,” Valdivia said.

The Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba, Rodrigo Malmierca, noted that, despite the efforts made, Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region in the world. At the same time, he added, “the region and especially our Caribbean brothers are exposed to the negative impacts of climate change.”

“This situation, coupled with growing uncertainty regarding economic matters at a global level, make it ever more necessary to prioritize multilateralism and an approach that places citizens at the center of development, taking into account the particularities of our region,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, in messages shared in the framework of the Forum’s inauguration, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Inga Rhonda King, underscored the region’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development.

In addition, Guatemalan national Gilda Menchu – who represented the young people of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered at the First regional dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean “On the road to equality”: 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, held in November 2018 at ECLAC – said that “talking about sustainable development is talking about challenges. We are making a start by talking about the 2030 Agenda, but the challenges will continue after 2030 because there are still many goals to achieve.”

“Young people are not waiting for you adults to propose ideas. We have been working on them and together we can make a change. ‘Sustainable development’ are immense words, but they are not impossible to achieve,” she stated.

On the first day of the meeting, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, presented the Quadrennial report on regional progress and challenges in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which details countries’ progress on complying with the SDGs and offers recommendations for addressing pending challenges.

The third meeting of the Forum will run from today through Friday, April 26, with peer learning sessions that will address the challenges of implementing the 2030 Agenda in the Caribbean and analyze aspects such as the institutional framework, planning and budget for the Agenda, along with its subnational implementation, statistical capacities, measurement and georeferencing.

An interregional dialogue between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean regarding implementation of the 2030 Agenda will also take place.