Our Perspective

      • Measuring the high expectations of Latin America’s youth | Heraldo Muñoz

        22 Jul 2013

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        Two thirds of young people in Latin America are more optimistic about the future than the present. Photo: Wim Bouden/PNUD Perú

        The increasing frequency of such mobilizations tells us that young people want to actively participate in their society’s development. The first Ibero-American Youth Survey—which we launched with the Ibero-American Youth Organization and other partners on 22 July in Madrid— shows that young people in Latin America, Portugal and Spain expect their participation to increase over the next five years. Institutions should provide formal spaces for this, or protests will become the most effective way for young people to make their voices heard. And the region will waste an opportunity to enhance the quality of its democratic governance. We introduced in this survey the first Youth Expectation Index, based on our decades-long experience in the production of Human Development Indices. This new Index—which reflects young people’s perceptions and subjective values of social, economic and political rights—  revealed the same messages that young people in the region are conveying in the streets: they expect more in terms of reduced corruption, violence, poverty and inequality. The Youth Expectations Index also showed us that two thirds of young people in Latin America have a positive outlook and that they are more optimistic about the future than the present. Young people express more confidence in theirRead More

      • The world’s two top economic powers turn to an emerged Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        07 Jun 2013

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        Participants in a micro-credit and skill-training programme in Bolivia tend to a sweet-onion harvest. Programmes like this one have helped thousands in Latin America emerge from extreme poverty. (Photo: UNDP Bolivia/Bolivia Produce)

        In the last six weeks, United States President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and President of China Xi Jinping all have visited Latin America and the Caribbean. Far from being a coincidence, the leaders of the world’s first and second largest economies are turning to a transformed Latin America and the Caribbean—defined increasingly by opportunity, growth, democracy and optimism. Yes, it’s the economy. In 2012, U.S. exports to the Caribbean, South and Central America totaled $205 billion, compared to $110 billion in exports to China. US exports to Mexico alone reached $216 billion last year. The bottom line is that Latin America has already emerged—and is not tied to any particular external partner. Brazil is the world’s seventh-largest economy; Argentina, Brazil and Mexico hold seats in the G-20; Chile and Mexico have joined developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Over the last decade, it has become a region of middle-income countries growing faster than the global average, reducing trade deficits thanks to a commodities boom , improved investments—and to growing domestic markets. The region has lifted 58 million people out of poverty and into the middle class since 2002. And despite some setbacks, the regionRead More

      • Indigenous peoples’ political inclusion enriches democracy in Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        23 May 2013

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        "Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions." - Article 5 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UN Photo)

        One of the most significant roles of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is to help boost indigenous peoples’ political participation. It is crucial to ensure that all people participate in political life and are active decision-makers—especially indigenous peoples. This is essential to overcome historical inequalities and discrimination. In Latin America and the Caribbean there are approximately 50 million indigenous peoples, about 10 percent of the total population. In Peru and Guatemala indigenous peoples account for almost half of the population, while in Bolivia they are more than 60 percent. Even though in Mexico indigenous peoples cover only 10 percent of the total population, Mexico and Peru contain the region’s largest indigenous population: about 11 million people. Mexico, for example, is advancing the ‘coexistence’ of indigenous peoples’ legal systems with the national legal system. It is not an easy process. The indigenous peoples’ representation at local and national levels, including dispute resolution methods, can differ widely and also spark tensions. However, indigenous peoples have shown that they are aware of how modern democracies work, as well as the limitations imposed to their political participation. For this reason, indigenous peoples have been adapting their traditional knowledge systems and their institutionsRead More