UNDP at 50: Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean share development experiences and commit to leave no one behind

Feb 26, 2016

New York, 25 February 2016 – More than 15 government authorities from Latin America and the Caribbean, along with over 100 country representatives from all over the world gathered in New York to mark the UN Development Programme’s 50th anniversary, as countries begin to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The region’s representatives—ranging from Vice Presidents, Ministers and Ambassadors—shared national experiences, including in partnership with UNDP, to improve the lives of women and men by lifting millions out of poverty, investing in disaster risk reduction and climate resilience, in addition to improving governance and bringing torn societies together after decades of internal conflict.  

Discussions also highlighted the importance of addressing the multiple dimensions of sustainable development, with the social, environmental and economic realms being intrinsically connected.

“Those who have left poverty are still vulnerable to external crisis—financial or natural disasters,” said Vice President of Honduras Rossana Guevara, stressing the crucial role of women—and particularly of indigenous peoples—in sustainable development. “UNDP has been a key partner for many countries in poverty eradication, including Honduras,” she added.

“UNDP is a strategic partner for the 2030 Agenda and in the articulation within the UN System and has been a key ally for so many countries in shaping public policies”, said Gina Casar, Executive Director of Mexico’s International Cooperation and Development Agency.

Leaving no one behind is a central point of the new global agenda, according to Secretary of Coordination and International Cooperation Patricio Benegas of Argentina, who spoke about the government’s “Zero Poverty” plan.

“UNDP’s partnership has been crucial to Uruguay, especially to target the most vulnerable communities, particularly in rural areas,” said Andrea Vignolo, Executive Director of Uruguay’s International Cooperation Agency, stressing the importance of reducing inequalities in the region that is still the most unequal in the world, in spite of great progress in reducing social and economic gaps in the past decades.

Inequality was one of the top issues addressed during the daylong session—within Latin America and the Caribbean countries and beyond.

“Investing in inequality reduction is good economics and contributes to peace and security”, said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

“Inequality has been highlighted as a challenge by countries at all levels of development. In order to achieve sustainable development all people must be included. Women who make up half the world’s population must be engaged fully. So must the world’s largest ever generation of young people who are looking for a positive future in the workforce and for their voices to be heard,” added Clark, the first woman to head UNDP.

Participants stressed that the SDGs are universal and are as crucial to rich countries as they are to developing ones.

“You can’t preach inequality to the developing world if you don’t’ tackle it in rich countries too,” said Minister Lilianne Poumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands in a session on poverty reduction.

“Overcoming over 50 years of conflict in Colombia will be crucial to improve opportunities for all Colombians and to tackle inequalities,” said Minister Rafael Pardo of Post-Conflict of Colombia. 

In an interview to UNDP before addressing the audience at the UN’s General Assembly hall Minister Pardo highlighted the importance of UNDP’s role in partnership with his country in the past 42 years and during this historic moment, “with a peace agreement that is only weeks away."

Taking part in a panel on citizen security the Secretary for Governance and Communications of El Salvador Hato Hasbun said that “UNDP’s partnership will be crucial to reduce inequalities to achieve the SDGs."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Lucia, Alva Romanus Baptiste, stressed the importance of managing risks and building resilience towards the impact of natural disasters as well as financial crisis, particularly for Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Vice-Minister Ileana Nuñez Mordoche of Cuba shared the country’s successful disaster risk reduction and preparedness experience, a UNDP-partnership shared with five other countries in the Caribbean. She stressed the importance of a holistic view towards risks management, with the communities playing a key role in preparedness, prevention, response and recovery.

Funding the new sustainable development agenda was also a central part of the discussions. Minister of Finance Winston Jordan of Guyana, highlighted the crucial role of a revamped financing for development framework that addresses the specificities of Caribbean SIDS, with limited access to finance and high levels of debt, in most cases.

The region known as a “biodiversity superpower” is also keen on taking care of the environment, in addition to boosting social and economic gains, regional representatives stressed.

“When we talk about protecting the planet, we understand that it is the transversal axis linking the 17 Goals we have set for reducing poverty and redirect the path of sustainability and resilience, to ensure a better quality of life for present and future generations,” said Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation Maria Luisa Navarro of Panama, stressing that her country is fully committed to Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, which her government has adopted as an official guideline with identified resources.

“Looking back in time, one of the most positive characteristics of UNDP since its creation was its ability to adapt to the evolving environment of development, delivering effective and qualitative support to developing countries, through a balanced mix of high standards of corporative management, generation and dissemination of knowledge, actual commitment to national ownership and operational decentralization,” said Ambassador Joao Almino, Director of Brazil’s Agency for International Cooperation.

He added that “the capacity of UNDP of keeping itself up with the shifts in the global development agenda during the last 50 years was crucial to preserve its leading position within the United Nations system in what regards development. This is all the more true when we recall that developing countries evolved from a more homogenous set of needs in the past, to a present time wide range of challenges to be addressed.”

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