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Parliamentarians Analyze at ECLAC Challenges and Opportunities for Strengthening and Consolidating Committees of the Future in Latin America

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20 June 2024|Press Release

At the First Regional Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Future, political representatives from various countries and experts from regional and international organizations shared experiences for increasing and improving capacities for legislative foresight and anticipatory governance.


Group photo of the First Regional Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Future
Group photo of the First Regional Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Future, held at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile (Photo: ECLAC).
Photo: ECLAC

Parliamentary representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay, along with more than 30 regional and international experts, gathered today at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile for the First Regional Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Future.

The event, which is taking place through Friday, June 21, is being organized by ECLAC with support from the Senate of the Republic of Chile and the Parliament of Uruguay. Its main objective is to increase the capacities for legislative foresight and anticipatory governance by establishing a network of committees of the future from the Latin America and Caribbean region’s parliaments.

Furthermore, it seeks to explore and compare legislative foresight capacity in the world and in Latin America and the Caribbean, which represents a unique opportunity for ECLAC to help establish an initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of parliaments in the region to anticipate and address future challenges.

The conference was inaugurated this Thursday by José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary; Juan Antonio Coloma, Chair of the Chilean Senate Committee on Challenges of the Future, Science, Technology and Innovation, and former President of Chile’s Senate; and Rodrigo Goñi, Chair of the Committee of the Future in the Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay’s Congress.

In his welcome remarks, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary indicated that the lack of capacities for foresight, strategic reflection and long-term planning and program implementation is one of the main obstacles to overcoming the long-term structural tendencies that characterize Latin America and to moving towards a more productive, inclusive and sustainable future.

“That is why at ECLAC we are convinced that it is not enough to identify the areas where there are gaps and make a list of aspirations regarding what to do. It is key for us to talk about the ‘hows,’ as in how can we promote the major transformations that the region’s development models need?” he asserted.

“We at ECLAC see this Conference as a unique opportunity to help establish an initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of the region’s parliaments to think about the future and incorporate this thinking into current work. We firmly believe that countries’ foresight and strategic capacities are indispensable and must be organized in such a way that ensures ongoing activity in which the diverse political forces with parliamentary representation participate,” Salazar-Xirinachs added.

Meanwhile, Chilean Senator Juan Antonio Coloma praised ECLAC’s initiative to create a network of committees to exchange experiences and take on the challenges ahead along with the existence of spaces for reflection such as this one, which can enable us to have a better future.

“Political phenomena were reflected upon on the basis of matters of contingency alone. But in a world that is ever more complex, the immediacy of what is urgent makes us lose perspective about what is happening towards the future. The world we are going to build must have that capacity to listen to science to have time to reflect on what is approaching, in order to view it as an opportunity. That is why we want to create spaces for international collaboration on these issues,” Coloma indicated.

Uruguayan Congressman Rodrigo Goñi, meanwhile, explained that the future is fast-approaching and very complicated. If we don’t all take action, that ship will sink. The challenges, and the threats, have implications for human survival, he said.

“We are at a turning point. We have a huge responsibility to anticipate possible futures in order to transform them, because if we don’t attempt to do so, we are highly irresponsible and it is ethically unforgivable. We must help our people understand what is happening, what we face ahead, the threats and the enormous opportunities… If we do our homework with all the technological and scientific development that exists, we can reach that position that we want to achieve,” Goñi emphasized.

After the opening session, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary gave a presentation entitled Rethinking, reimagining and transforming: The “whats” and the “hows” for moving towards a more productive, inclusive and sustainable development model, in which he reiterated that Latin America and the Caribbean is a region caught in three development traps: 1) Low economic growth; 2) High inequality and low social mobility; and 3) Weak institutional capacities and ineffective governance.

“Between 2014 and 2023, average growth in Latin America and the Caribbean was 0.8%. This is below the 2% at which it grew in the lost decade of the 1980s. Low growth is not just a current problem, but instead reflects the region’s low trend growth in GDP,” José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs warned.

“To promote major transformations in development models, ECLAC has presented a catalogue of ten gaps or structural challenges that constitutes a list of ten priority areas, which includes low, volatile, exclusionary and unsustainable economic growth, with little formal job creation; limited fiscal space and high financing costs; high inequality and low social mobility and social cohesion; insufficient regional economic integration; weak education and vocational training systems; and high gender inequality, among others,” the senior United Nations official specified.

“But it is not enough to make assessments and indicate what to do to tackle, in their full magnitude, the development challenges that characterize countries. Special attention must be paid to how to do it. That is why ECLAC is working more intensely and systematically on how to improve public policy governance, how to improve institutions’ technical, operational, policy and prospective (TOPP) capacities, the issues of social dialogue and the political economy of reforms, and financing,” he explained.

He also reiterated that 11 major transformations are needed in the development model to create a more productive, inclusive and sustainable future – including quick, sustained, sustainable and inclusive growth – using productive development policies. In this regard, he proposed a portfolio of sectors to drive the major productive transformation of productivity, inclusion and sustainability: in Industry (pharmaceutical and life-sciences industry, medical devices industry), Services (exportation of modern services or those enabled by Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the care society, e-government), and the big push for sustainability sector (energy transition: renewable energy, green hydrogen, lithium; electromobility; the circular economy, and more).

“These must be managed through institutions’ TOPP capacities, which are necessary for driving major transformations in the development model,” he emphasized.

The First Regional Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Future will continue today with three more sessions addressing the following topics: “Global and Latin American regional outlook for the main geopolitical and geostrategic trends: Implications for the work of Latin America’s parliamentary committees of the future”; “The role of parliamentary committees of the future in responding to emerging challenges, the cases of climate change and Artificial Intelligence”; and “Experiences of parliamentary committees of the future in Latin American countries and new initiatives: Cases of public policy formulation for development.”

On Friday, June 21, four sessions will be held: “The state of the art in terms of parliamentary committees of the future in the world: Successful experiences”; “Anticipatory governance and legislative foresight capacities: Tools, mechanisms and approaches for strengthening legislative innovation and adaptation, and Cases”; “Challenges and opportunities for strengthening and consolidating parliamentary committees of the future in Latin America” and “Strategies for promoting the culture of foresight in Latin American parliaments”; and “Recommendations and commitments for establishing a network aimed at strengthening legislative anticipatory governance and the work of committees of the future in Latin American parliaments.”

The speakers at these sessions will include political representatives from the Chilean Senate, the Brazilian Senate, the Uruguayan Congress, the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, the European Parliament, the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (PARLATINO), the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore, and the Parliament of Finland, along with senior officials and experts from international organizations, such as United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), ECLAC, the United Nations Futures Lab Network, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Prominent scholars from the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA SciencesPo), the University of the Basque Country, and the University of Turku (Finland) will also be participating.