Why Latin America and the Caribbean matter for the Post-2015 Agenda | Alejandra Kubitschek Bujones

09 Jan 2014


Latin America could emerge as one of the most influential regions in the negotiations on what will follow the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015.

First: The politics - As discussed in the recent UNDP-commissioned, NYU/Center on International Cooperation (CIC) independent report, A Laboratory for Sustainable Development? Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Post-2015 Agenda, Latin America has successfully captured the most important positions in the bodies engaged with the post-2015 framework. This gives the region a unique opportunity to lead and influence the outcome of post-2015 negotiations. Colombia currently presides over the Economic and Social Council, Bolivia heads the G77 group of nations, and Antigua and Barbuda will hold the Presidency of the General Assembly until the 69th session. In addition, Brazil currently leads the World Trade Organization; and the COP 20 climate negotiations will take place in Lima, Peru.

Second: The lessons and experience - Latin America has served as a laboratory for designing and implementing innovative sustainable development approaches. The region has developed some of the best-recognized development programs, combining poverty reduction with social inclusion. Successful cash transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, Mexico’s Oportunidades, and Chile’s Solidario have played an important role in increasing household incomes, raising school enrollment, and reducing malnutrition. Though Latin America is still the most unequal region in the world, inequality has decreased even as many other countries (e.g., China and India) face stark increases in inequality.

Third: The credibility - The success of these policies gives the region credibility to speak about development. Though still a recipient of official development assistance, Latin America has successfully reduced poverty primarily through domestic resource mobilization and social investment. During a period of steady economic growth (due largely to increased global commodity prices), governments prioritized social spending programs and policies that enabled poor households to reduce vulnerabilities through protection mechanisms and decent employment. As a result, according to the World Bank, over 70 million people have been lifted out of poverty and 50 million have joined the middle class between 2003 and 2011 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The region matters. Its leadership positions in the bodies working on the new framework, its innovative experience of poverty reduction and social inclusion, and its international credibility mean people will listen to what the region has to say. And its huge diversity means the process it follows to reach a consensus could be a preview of the wider inter-governmental negotiations to come. With developing countries around the world asking what they can learn from Latin America's experience, whether it seizes the opportunity to meaningfully engage in the debate to help shape and steer the negotiations could determine whether the post-2015 agenda is truly transformative.

Talk to us: What lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean can be useful in the future development agenda?

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