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In the Post-COVID-19 World, the 2030 Agenda Demands More Cooperation and Regional Integration, More Multilateralism and Greater Productive Integration: Alicia Bárcena

ECLAC’s Executive Secretary led today an extraordinary meeting of the Practice Community of the Latin American countries that will present their Voluntary National Reviews before the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2020.

11 May 2020|Press Release

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demands of us more cooperation and regional integration, more multilateralism, new strategic sectors and greater productive integration, along with a universal social protection scheme with a basic income, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), sustained today.

The senior United Nations official led a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Practice Community of the region’s countries that will be presenting in 2020 their voluntary national reviews before the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which is held in the month of July. The participants in this meeting included senior representatives from Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama and Peru, as well as the national focal points for the 2030 Agenda, their technical teams, resident coordinators, and experts from ECLAC and the UN system more generally.

In her remarks, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary warned that the 2030 Agenda’s integrality is at risk due to uneven progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in light of the pandemic.

“With ten years left to attain this goal set by the international community for 2030, there are warning signs regarding the achievement of the SDGs. We have analyzed progress on 72 statistical series of the indicators for the 17 SDGs in the region: 4 achieved the goal; 15 are heading in the right direction; 8 need more public policy intervention; 13 need heavy public policy intervention; 27 are at a standstill; and 5 are suffering setbacks,” she specified.

Alicia Bárcena noted that before the pandemic, Latin America and the Caribbean had recorded seven years of slow growth with rising rates of poverty, extreme poverty and inequality, limited fiscal policy space, and burgeoning social conflicts.

She recalled that estimates point to the pandemic’s effects producing the biggest recession that the region has experienced since 1914 and 1930, with a -5.3% projected contraction, a significant deterioration in labor indicators in 2020 that is seen causing nearly 12 million more people in the region to be unemployed, and with nearly 30 million more people pushed into poverty.

She highlighted that Latin America and the Caribbean is a region that is very committed to the 2030 Agenda, and so she called on countries to incorporate the new challenges imposed by the pandemic into the drafting of their voluntary national reviews and into implementation of the agenda in general. She also urged them to identify how it is affecting the most vulnerable groups, as well as strategies and policies for leaving no one behind.

ECLAC’s highest authority stressed that the policies to implement the 2030 Agenda are more indispensable than ever and that it is crucial to evaluate their impact.

To support the follow-up and monitoring of progress in the medium and long term, she noted, ECLAC has set in motion the COVID-19 Observatory, an effort coordinated by the regional commission with the support of United Nations resident coordinators that presents updated information about each country’s policy announcements along with other materials of interest. In addition, it is implementing the SDG Wategay.

Alicia Bárcena emphasized that we must urgently move towards a new development model that is oriented towards greater well-being and environmental sustainability, and inclusive and sustainable international governance based on the 2030 Agenda.

“Only with a new development model will we keep from retreading the paths that led to a situation in which the pandemic’s effects may be devastating not only in the short term, but they may also undermine the conditions for recovery and development,” she expressed.

Finally, she called for envisioning the region’s future in the new economic geography with a view to depending less on imported manufactured goods and imagining regional value chains. In that sense, she stressed the importance of implementing industrial policies that enable the region to strengthen its production capacities and generate new strategic sectors.

“To have an impact in the new global economy, the region must move towards greater productive, trade and technological integration. An integrated market of 650 million inhabitants would constitute an important insurance policy against shocks produced outside the region,” she concluded.

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