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Latin American and Caribbean Countries Present Multiple Challenges for Vanquishing Poverty and Hunger in the Region and Achieving the 2030 Agenda

The third day of the seventh Forum on Sustainable Development, which is taking place at ECLAC, featured a panel focused on the situation in the Caribbean.
News |
17 April 2024
Foto de participantes en el evento

Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean exchanged experiences today regarding the distinct policies and strategies they are carrying out to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1 (no poverty) and 2 (zero hunger), agreeing on the need to address them comprehensively to ensure the success of the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This occurred on the third day of the seventh meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development (April 15-18), which is taking place at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile.

On the first panel of the day, entitled Advancing the priorities of Caribbean Small Island Developing States towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, government officials and other representatives addressed the specific challenges that countries of this subregion are facing and that are undermining their ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Diane Quarless, Director of ECLAC’s subregional headquarters for the Caribbean – who moderated the discussion – mentioned these nations’ high exposure to external shocks, the devastating effects of climate change, the destruction of productive assets (as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), high levels of public debt and debt service, and limited access to financing in favorable conditions, among other difficulties.

Participating in the debate were Joy-Marie King, Director of International Trade at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Immigration of Antigua and Barbuda; Rochelle W. Newbold, Special Adviser on Climate Change and Environmental Matters in the Office of the Prime Minister of the Bahamas; Shennel Richards, Chief Research Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados; Kennethia Douglas, Project Manager in the SDG Technical Coordinating Secretariat of the Ministry of Planning and Development of Trinidad and Tobago; Benito Wheatley, Special Envoy of the Premier of the British Virgin Islands; and Jemiah Prince, Legal Adviser to the Chairperson’s Committee of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council.

These representatives reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda, but they stressed the need for the international community to recognize the clear difficulties the Caribbean has for accessing development financing, and act accordingly. The criteria for classifying countries by income level must be left behind and multistakeholder partnerships must be forged, among other strategies, they stated.

Later in the day, on the panel analyzing Goal 1: No poverty, national and subnational authorities, international officials and representatives of civil society examined the different strategies that countries are using to eradicate poverty in a region that is characterized by its great inequality, volatility and vulnerability.

Although the percentage of people living in poverty declined in 2022 (returning to pre-pandemic levels), more than 180 million people in Latin America do not have enough income today to meet their basic needs (29% of the total population), and 70 million of them lack the income to buy a basic food basket (11.2% of the region’s population), according to ECLAC’s report Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2023.

Poverty “has a face” (affecting women, indigenous and Afro-descendent people and rural populations to a greater degree), is multidimensional and has severe consequences both for individual trajectories as well as society as a whole, the participants recognized, which means it requires a comprehensive approach.

It is necessary, they sustained, to increase economic growth and productivity and create more quality jobs; to mobilize a larger quantity of domestic resources (via progressive tax reforms, for example) and external resources (with the role of regional development banks emphasized); to implement policies with a rights, intersectional and life-cycle perspective, involving multiple actors; and to develop comprehensive, sustainable and resilient universal social protection systems. They also stressed the importance of implementing comprehensive care systems, among other measures.

This panel featured remarks by Irais Graciela Barreto Canales, Executive Secretary of the National Council for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Chief of the Global Economic Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Mexico; Jorge Aldana, Mayor of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Andrea Repetto, President of Fundación Superación de la Pobreza of Chile; and Igor Pantoja, Coordinator for Institutional Relations of Instituto Cidades Sustentáveis of Brazil and representative of the Mechanism for Civil Society Participation in the Sustainable Development Agenda and in the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development.

They were joined by Elbert Ellis, Senior Operations Officer at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) (virtual); Wellington Dias, Minister for Social Development and Assistance, Family Affairs and the Fight against Hunger of Brazil (by video); and Luis Felipe López-Calva, Global Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice at the World Bank (by video). The panel was moderated by María-Noel Vaeza, Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

Finally, a panel discussion focused on Goal 2: Zero hunger was held, with speakers analyzing national and regional actions being taken to achieve the objective of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture in the region.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 43 million people are currently experiencing hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean (6.5% of the region’s population, the majority of them women) while 37% of the population grapples with food insecurity.

Authorities and specialists underlined the importance of promoting sustainable agrifood systems in the region with a comprehensive, multistakeholder perspective and a gender and territorial approach, taking into account all the links in the chain. In a global and regional scenario of cascading crises and limited resources, the efficacy of policies and programs is key, they affirmed.

It is urgently necessary to address the climate crisis and disaster management, invest in science, technology and innovation, strengthen social protection systems, improve value chains, ensure fair prices for producers, rediscover ancestral foods, promote local buying and enhance school meals, among other measures, they indicated.

Participating in this panel were Jimmy Eduardo Bermúdez Perdomo, Executive Director of the Ministerial Office in the Presidential Secretariat of Honduras; Amaro Angel Rivadeneira, Director of Follow-up and Evaluation of the National Center for Strategic Planning (CEPLAN) of Peru; Lola Castro, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Food Programme (WFP); and Hernán Chiriboga, Representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in Chile.

Yamandú Plada, Fundraising Director of Red de Alimentos Compartidos (REDALCO) of Uruguay, and Marcela Browne – Education Coordinator of Fundación SES and Secretary of Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación (CADE) and representative of the Mechanism for Civil Society Participation in the Sustainable Development Agenda and in the Forum – also spoke on the panel, which was moderated by Mario Lubetkin, FAO’s Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean.

On the final day of the Forum (Thursday, April 18), the panel discussions will continue with Panel 3: Goal 13 - Climate action; Panel 4: Goal 16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions; and Panel 5: Goal 17 - Partnerships for the Goals.


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