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Alicia Bárcena Advocates for Renewed Global and Regional Governance for Sustainable Development
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, advocated today in New York for fostering regional coordination to implement economic, social and environmental policies aimed at compliance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in all of its areas, taking into special account challenges in the industrial, technological and fiscal realms.
In the framework of the activities on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, Alicia Bárcena participated this Friday in an event about Regionalism and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was headed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and she later attended the first Ministerial Meeting of the Like-Minded Countries Supporters of Middle Income Countries.
During his speech at the earlier gathering, Ban Ki-moon emphasized that the regional commissions are key to the UN’s work and praised the efforts made to support member countries in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, to build strategic alliances with other regional and subregional entities, and to stimulate innovative ideas in areas such as financing for development.
Meanwhile, ECLAC’s most senior representative underscored that this organization has proposed an analytical framework and strategic proposal to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as set forth in the document Horizons 2030: Equality at the Centre of Sustainable Development, which was presented last May in Mexico.
That analysis is based on the concept that equality is the biggest problem in the region. As an example of this, Bárcena recalled that in Latin America and the Caribbean the richest 10% of the population has 14 times more income than the poorest 40%. “This cannot only be seen from the perspective of poverty, it also needs to be seen from the perspective of wealth, which means that we have to put in place redistributive policies,” she said.
ECLAC’s Executive Secretary also indicated that the region must move towards sustainable industrialization that allows for productive diversification, reduced dependence on natural resources and is based on innovation, taking advantage of new technological paradigms.
This change must be accompanied by a big environmental push, with investments that reduce environmental impact, and by betting on the digital economy in a way that takes into consideration the future of the world of work and the transition towards new, quality jobs with social protection. This is about changing development patterns, she said.
To fuel these transformations, Bárcena said that ECLAC has a repository of national development plans that includes institutional experiences to achieve full integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions, and it also supports the incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national and territorial development plans, budgets, and public and private investment procedures.
In addition, the repository tries to strengthen and link national statistics systems with the help of big data. This will improve the availability and quality of the statistics needed to provide follow-up to the Agenda. Likewise, it seeks to contribute to identifying and analyzing critical nexuses between the 17 SDGs. The idea is to link, for example, education, jobs, income and technology.
“It is not just the summation of national actions that is needed but rather a platform for collective action. A global compact must be put forth that proposes a new development pattern with equality and sustainability at the center,” Bárcena stressed.
ECLAC will also convene each year the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, a regional follow-up mechanism to the 2030 Agenda, the first meeting of which will take place in April 2017 in Mexico. It will lead the development of intersectoral initiatives in this area that allow for peer review, as well as the coordination of regional stances in global debates, and efforts to achieve a fiscal compact against tax evasion and avoidance and to fight illicit funding.
In this debate, other speakers included the President of Namibia, Hage Geingob; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Prakash Sharan Mahat, of Georgia, Mikheil Janelidze, and of Kazakhstan, Erlan A. Idrissov; the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit; and the Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID), Gina Casar.
The Executive Secretaries of the other four United Nations regional commissions also attended: Carlos Lopes, of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Shamshad Akhtar, of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Rima Khalaf, of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); and Christian Friis Bach, of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Later, while participating in the gathering on middle-income countries, Alicia Bárcena advocated for broadening the criteria for allocating the resources of Official Development Assistance (ODA) so they go beyond per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). She emphasized that ECLAC has developed a methodology to classify these countries on the basis of seven structural gaps: poverty and inequality, productivity, infrastructure, taxation, education, health, and gender.
“We aim to support the region’s countries in applying this methodology and have them choose the criteria that they consider to be a priority in allocating resources for development. We did a real exercise with Costa Rica that we will present soon and we are going to continue now with Jamaica,” Alicia Bárcena told the members of this group, which is presided by Costa Rica and in which other Latin American and Caribbean countries include Chile, Panama, Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.
The participation of ECLAC’s Executive Secretary in the debates on the sidelines of the General Assembly will culminate with her participation today in a meeting with the Secretary-General and the Heads of State and Government of the countries of CARICOM to address the main challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Over the course of this week she was also present at dialogues about the digital economy and SMEs, about global compacts to tackle evasion and tax havens, and about data innovation for sustainable development that takes advantage of big databases to boost climate resilience.