Leaders from Latin America and Caribbean Envision Development in Region Beyond COVID-19 Response and Recovery

The XII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, co-organized by UNDP, ECLAC and the Government of Colombia, includes the Fourth Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, a subsidiary body of the Commission.

January 12, 2021, New York City, USA – Today is the start of the 12th Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean- a three day virtual meeting where global and regional sustainable development experts and top government officials come together to discuss the way forward for development in the region beyond OVID-19 response and recovery.

The 2020 Ministerial Forum, “Beyond Recovery. Towards a new social contract for LAC” will focus on three critical areas for development moving forward: strengthened social protection and fiscal systems; inclusive digital transformation; and effective governance. The event is co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Colombia. The Forum also includes the Fourth Meeting of the Presiding Officers of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), chaired by the government of Mexico.

During the inauguration of the Forum, President of Colombia Ivan Duque, pointed out that Colombia saw in the COVID-19 pandemic an opportunity to continue working on equity as the axis of human development, just as it has been done during his administration. This resilient vision was reinforced throughout 2020 with the implementation of the Commitment to Colombia, a plan that includes 562 projects for creating job opportunities, green growth, boosting rural development, protecting vulnerable citizens and strengthening the health system.

The COVID-19 pandemic found Latin America and the Caribbean with a series of preexisting conditions, including high inequality, fragmented social contracts, low productivity and growth, little trust in public institutions, and fiscal weakness. It is in this context that COVID in the region quickly went from being a health crisis to an economic one and, in some cases, even a governance crisis. As with the effects of the virus on organisms with preexisting medical conditions, the pandemic interacted in some Latin American and Caribbean countries with structural deficiencies threatening decades of development progress.

“As Latin America and the Caribbean moves to build more resilient and cohesive societies, adequate social protection systems that are sustainable and leave no one behind, and foster productivity, need to be at the center of reform efforts,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, remarked that the pandemic is causing the greatest economic recession of the last 100 years, with a fall of -7.7% in regional GDP, as well as widespread increases of poverty and inequality. She stated that in order to build a new future through a transformative recovery with equality and sustainability “we need to forge political and fiscal compacts to lay the foundation for a universal welfare State in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

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