Available in: EnglishEspañol

Eradicating Poverty and Hunger is an Indispensable Requirement for Achieving Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

Authorities and delegates from the region’s countries concluded the seventh meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development with a firm commitment to accelerate the pace for achieving the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Press Release |
18 April 2024
Vista general de la Sala Prebisch de la CEPAL

Authorities and delegates from 29 Latin American and Caribbean countries, from United Nations agencies and regional and multilateral organizations and from civil society participating in the seventh meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development ended the gathering today with the recognition that without eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, and hunger, it will not be possible to build more inclusive, productive and sustainable development in the region.

They further stressed the need to implement comprehensive and cross-sector public policies that would address the structural and circumstantial causes of the low capacity for growth that the region is exhibiting, the high inequality and the other gaps that are hindering fulfillment of the United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

After three days of intense debate held at the central headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile, these representatives reaffirmed their commitment to accelerate the pace for achieving the SDGs in the six years that remain. At this session of the Forum, they analyzed in particular SDG 1 (No poverty), 2 (Zero hunger), 13 (Climate action), 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

They also discussed the challenges and priorities of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS); a special session was held on the upcoming Summit of the Future, which will take place at UN headquarters in New York on September 22-23; important authorities from the global organization – such as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and the Under-Secretary-General for Policy in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, Guy Ryder – were present; and the voice of the children, adolescents and youth of Latin America and the Caribbean was heard, along with that of the region’s civil society organizations.

The closing session held this Thursday, April 18 was led by Laura Fernández Delgado, Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica in her capacity as Vice-Chair of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, and José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary.

The Costa Rican minister emphasized that the challenges now facing humanity – which has been battered on various fronts ranging from organized crime, hunger, poverty, inequality, the onslaught of climate change, the biodiversity loss and pollution crisis, the scarcity of drinking water, armed conflicts, public indebtedness, and many more global challenges – make it imperative that the countries we represent take a step forward to collectively build solutions.

“This step forward cannot be a lukewarm step, but rather a step forward that is sufficiently commensurate with the thirst that our people have for a decent present and a tomorrow that would leave no one behind. A step forward that brings with it a clear interest in action, and that I’m sure will be propelled by the force of the waving of our different national flags, which are inscribed in the hearts of those of us who have been at this Forum,” she declared.

“Our present and future generations can’t withstand and do not deserve more assessments or ideas that won’t come into fruition. The agreed-upon agenda is a shared responsibility. We will only be able to undertake this challenging task if we are united,” Laura Fernández Delgado underscored.

Meanwhile, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary took stock of the discussions and pointed up the fact that more than 700 people attended the meeting in person over the course of the three days, more than 180 government delegates from 29 of the Forum’s member countries, more than 150 representatives of the United Nations system, and more than 200 people from civil society, the private sector and academia.

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs explained that the statements by national delegations made it clear how much Latin American and Caribbean countries are working on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with plans, policies and programs in all the areas. However, and as the various reports presented at this Forum indicated, the diverse crises that have emerged in recent years – linked to the slow growth of the economy and trade, to climate change, to forced migration, to geopolitical conflicts and to the recent humanitarian crises caused by the wars in Europe and the Middle East – have been important obstacles to making progress on fulfilling the SDGs.

“In addition to negative external shocks, there are two other groups of reasons that could possibly explain this lag. The first is that we don’t quite know what should be done or what desirable scenario to move towards. There is already a lot of assessment of our realities, and while there is room for improving these assessments, it could be argued that a lack of knowledge regarding ‘what’ to do would not seem to be a very important cause of the lag. The second type of reasons are much more important: they refer to a lack of clarity and knowledge about the ‘hows.’ This question leads us to the very concrete problems of implementation regarding how to manage the transformations, meaning issues of governance, issues of institutions’ weak TOPP capacities (Technical, Operational, Policy and Prospective capacities), and the need for more spaces for social dialogue, among others,” he indicated.

“Comprehensive and cross-sector public policies are urgently needed to address the structural and circumstantial causes of this low capacity for growth, of high inequality and low social mobility, and the other gaps related to the SDGs,” the senior United Nations official emphasized.

In a draft document of conclusions and recommendations nearly 130 paragraphs long that was approved at the end of the meeting, countries indicate that they note with concern that the Sustainable Development Goal targets with a 2020 deadline have not been fully achieved, and in this regard call upon the international community to reinforce actions to address those specific challenges, including to protect biodiversity, develop disaster risk reduction strategies, increase the availability of timely, quality and disaggregated data, engage youth, and enhance financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer to developing countries.

In addition, they recognize that increasing inequality continues to be a pervasive trait of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and that the fight against this scourge requires, among other things, further investment in social services, including social protection services, and economic opportunities in global, regional and national partnerships with national and local authorities, the private sector, the international financial system, civil society, academia and other relevant stakeholders working together, in accordance with national plans and policies, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

They also take note of the seventh report on regional progress and challenges in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, entitled The Challenge of Accelerating the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean: Transitions towards Sustainability, which was prepared by ECLAC and presented at the meeting by the Commission’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.

Finally, they recognize that the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development has become an example of excellence in the regional coordination of multiple stakeholders, such as governments, the United Nations system, the private sector, academia and civil society, to carry forward implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.