The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) held their biennial consultations today, in which they reaffirmed their strategic partnership to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and building forward better in the region, placing equality and environmental sustainability at the center of the post-pandemic recovery phase.
Both parties at the meeting agreed to maintain a continuous dialogue about strategic international processes and other themes of mutual interest, and to renew their cooperation program for the next two years (until 2024) on three specific areas: sustainable and inclusive smart cities in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; “recover better” from the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic; and the regional cooperation program for sustainable mining in the Andean countries of the region (known as MinSus).
The meeting was led by Volker Oel, Deputy Director-General for Latin America, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC. The German delegation also included Ute Heinbuch, Head of Division Latin America and Caribbean, BMZ; Katharina Kick, Senior Policy Officer, Division Latin America and Caribbean, BMZ; and Jürgen Popp, Head of Division South America, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. In addition to the Executive Secretary, ECLAC officials included: Raúl García-Buchaca, Deputy Executive Secretary for Management and Programme Analysis; Mario Cimoli, Deputy Executive Secretary; Joseluis Samaniego, Chief of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division; and Gerardo Mendoza, Chief of the Project Management Unit.
In her opening remarks, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary underscored that in the past two decades the strategic alliance between Germany and ECLAC has provided important services to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. “This partnership has been very fruitful in many ways, including granting us the possibility of investing in emerging and innovative themes that in time have entered the mainstream of the development agenda of Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in the fields of sustainability of development and its linkages with structural change and social equity,” said Alicia Bárcena.
She also acknowledged and thanked Germany for including the Latin America and the Caribbean region in its global response plans to the emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The allocation of an extraordinary grant to support the efforts carried out by governments in this region -the most affected by the pandemic- to manage the crisis and lay the basis for a transformative recovery is another testimony to Germany’s firm commitment to the principles of international solidarity and development cooperation,” indicated Bárcena.
Volker Oel recognized that Latin America and the Caribbean has been the region most affected by the pandemic. He also pointed out that, just as we have seen today at COP26 in Glasgow, there is clear evidence that working on global solutions, whether it be on climate or biodiversity, must take this region into consideration. “For this reason, it is a must to be more involved in Latin American issues and we, from our perspective of bilateral cooperation—and regardless of the new German government taking office in the next months—have many good ideas to suggest and use this cooperation as a stimulus. Furthermore, we see ECLAC as the gateway between Europe and Latin America. Therefore, facilitating ECLAC’s role is crucial and we want to continue consolidating that relationship over the years to come,” he stated.
During the meeting, Alicia Bárcena gave a presentation on the general outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean that included the prolonged economic and social impacts that the pandemic is having on the region, the state of regional integration, the sustainability agenda for the region post COP26, ECLAC’s priorities with regard to middle-income countries (MICs), the Comprehensive Development Plan for Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and the future perspectives for dialogue between Latin America and the Caribbean and Germany/Europe, and to strengthen the strategic alliance between Germany and ECLAC.
Bárcena reiterated that ECLAC has proposed seven policy recommendations to move from the emergency to recovery from the crisis: prioritize health, particularly equal access to vaccines; deliver basic emergency income for the most vulnerable populations; deliver financing and longer loan terms for micro, small and medium-sized businesses; a basic digital basket for households lacking appropriate access to connectivity; foster recovery plans based on investment, jobs and environmental sustainability; promote international financial solidarity, especially for small and medium-sized economies; and foster new political and fiscal compacts to achieve universal social protection that is progressive and redistributive with gender equality.
“Germany and Latin America and the Caribbean have a historic relationship that goes back over four decades based on common values and commitment to multilateralism. Together, both regions represent 25% of world GDP and one-third of United Nations members. Germany plays a leadership role in transformative investment matters that are in line with the Big Environmental Push promoted by ECLAC,” said Alicia Bárcena.
Joseluis Samaniego then gave a presentation on the cooperation component related to sustainable and inclusive smart cities in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while Gerardo Mendoza provided details on the programs aimed at “recover better” from the COVID-19 crisis, and the MinSus project on sustainable mining in the Andean countries of the region.
At the end of the meeting, Alicia Bárcena and Volker Oel signed a protocol of understanding with the agreements reached in the meeting on the cooperation program between both parties.
“This program is a real treasure for us. It is perfectly aligned with the dynamic and policy needs in the region. We are looking forward to investing in this treasure and make it even more practical for the region and be able to show it to the general public, particularly here in Germany,” indicated Volker Oel in his closing remarks, in addition to thanking ECLAC for the rich debate during the meeting.
As the meeting came to an end, Alicia Bárcena also gave thanks for the opportunity to work in this strategic partnership with BMZ and GIZ. “We have homework to do. You can count on us for that. This is a window of opportunity to continue consolidating this enormous, fruitful relationship,” the Executive Secretary said in closing.