Latin America commits to strengthening social protection systems and focus on multidimensional progress

Nov 1, 2016

Through the "Santo Domingo Declaration" government representatives of the region agreed to build cross-sectoral, holistic and universal policies to address the problems of development and measure the multidimensional progress, with emphasis on the sustainability of already achieved progress.

Santo Domingo – After two days of sharing experiences with public policies around the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty eradication and reducing inequality, representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean governments at the VIII Ministerial Forum for Development signed the "Declaration of Santo Domingo” — a commitment to seek the most efficient and sustainable ways to promote the advancement of the 2030 Agenda, with an integrated model in accordance with national priorities.

The ministers, vice ministers and representatives of the region highlighted the need to develop measures for well-being and multidimensional progress that complement the traditional measurements of poverty beyond income, focusing on strengthening and expanding social protection systems that reduce inequality and exclusion.

During a time of a fragile global economy and great challenges in the region, the challenge is to achieve sustainable reductions in poverty and inequality in all its dimensions. Thus, it is imperative to boost inclusive and comprehensive policies and strategies adapted to populations that have historically suffered from discrimination and exclusions.

According to the participants, the 2030 Agenda invites us to rethink public policies in each country and identify interventions that advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Economic growth and poverty eradication alone are not enough, we also need to prevent people from falling back into poverty. "More of the same" public policy is not sufficient to maintain progress and achieve higher levels of development in the future.

Multidimensional progress

Ministers and representatives discussed the progress of development models in Latin America towards a multidimensional concept, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which transcends the use of per capita income, the rate of economic growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as criteria for measuring the level of development.

In this context, the ministers and representatives pledged to deepen the implementation of instruments for a multidimensional measurement of poverty. This serves as a guide to public policies for each country, enriching the analysis to include missing dimensions and environmental variables, exposure to disasters, quality of services — which transcends coverage — or access to justice, among others.

Additionally, three major obstacles in the construction of multidimensional progress were identified that representatives at the Forum pledged to address: transcending the logic that middle-income countries will 'graduate' once they achieve a given level of income, generating systems that capture the absent dimensions of welfare; and building intersectional, holistic and universal policies to respond to the multidimensional problems of development.

Given the existing fiscal constraints, other commitments were to improve social protection within the framework of fiscal responsibility. Attendees stressed that countries must adapt their tax system according to their specific circumstances, strengths and weaknesses, and reach a lasting social consensus on the need for funds to implement a stronger and broader social protection system.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, women bear most of the household responsibilities and responsibilities of child care. This places them at a disproportionate risk of falling into poverty. This is one of the biggest challenges the new generation of social protection systems must address. Similarly, indigenous and black populations have historically been left behind, with lower levels of protection.

Social protection systems must become a continuum of protection, with different programs available at different stages of people’s life, including for pregnant women, children, young people of working age and older adults. These should include both the social and environmental risks with the implementation of a minimum level of services spread throughout the lifecycle of citizens.

It is also necessary to recognize the need to combine and coordinate programs and sectors where multidimensional problems require multi-sectoral and inter-sectoral responses. For example, creating a "one-stop shop" for all social programs could improve its overall efficiency, increase coverage and improve responsiveness to crises.

"The ‘Santo Domingo Declaration’ puts people at the center of public policy," said the Assistant Secretary General of the UN and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jessica Faieta. "Confronting the multidimensionality of development challenges improves interventions and public policies focused on those living below the poverty line, and increases reflections on the need to look beyond this line," she added.

The Vice President of the Dominican Republic, Margarita Cedeño said that the most important challenge in the region is social inequality. She raised the need for social inclusion policies with rights approach and life cycle, with gender and intercultural perspectives. "The region gradually has developed better skills for economic development. With ups and downs we work our way to monetary wellbeing. But income redistribution is the most important task that we must undertake to make the Agenda 2030 a reality.”

The Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena, stressed that “sustainable development occurs when there is a virtuous link between economic, social and environmental policies, supported by strong institutions”. She added: "Inclusive social development is an imperative that pushes us to improve the quality of all aspects of social policy, on the basis of the rights approach, and work actively to break the axes that structure and reproduce social inequality in the region".

Contact information

Office of the Vice President of the Dominican Republic
Justo Maracallo, justomaracallo.vicepresidencia@gmail.com

ECLAC
Guido Camu, Guido.CAMU@cepal.org

UNDP
Michelle Rivas, michelle.rivas@undp.org | Marcela Barrientos, marcela.barrientos@undp.org

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