Deputy Secretary-General, at Launch of Report on Progress by Latin America, Caribbean, Hails Region’s High Growth, Stable Economic Conditions
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening remarks at the launch of the inter-agency report “Sustainable Development 20 Years on from the Earth Summit: Progress, Gaps and Strategic Guidelines in Latin America and the Caribbean”, in New York on 27 March:
Good afternoon. I am honoured to lead off today’s side event on behalf of the Secretary-General.
The report we are launching is the culmination of an extensive regional inter-agency effort, implemented through the Regional Coordination Mechanism chaired by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). It demonstrates the strong commitment of the United Nations to work as one family. I congratulate the 21 agencies, funds and programmes involved in its preparation — and I stress the important role the regional commissions can play in implementing the outcomes of the “Rio+20” Conference.
“ Rio+20” is less than three months away. This timely report provides a regional perspective on progress achieved in the region’s efforts to address some of the key sustainable development challenges since the historic “Earth Summit” in 1992. Based on facts and a review of experiences at the regional and national levels, the report proposes concrete mechanisms and practical solutions for overcoming the barriers that have been encountered. I have no doubt that its statistics, analysis and guidelines will be an invaluable resource for Governments during the “ Rio+20” preparatory process.
Before we hear from the experts, allow me to draw your attention to some of the key messages contained in the report. One resounding conclusion is that, while progress has been made, the region is still not pursuing a new development model capable of supporting simultaneous implementation of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. For instance, the region needs to reduce inequalities in a significant way and decouple environmental pressures from economic growth. Lack of access to services such as water, sanitation and energy, compounded by wide disparities in access to education and health, and hence to the labour market, has rendered disadvantaged groups more vulnerable to the effects of a worsening local and global environment.
Furthermore, the way in which wealth and public and private investments are measured has frequently resulted in the overuse of environmental assets and natural resources. Responses have often been only short-term fixes, not long-term solutions, and have depleted essential assets such as water resources, biological diversity and the integrity of fishery or forestry reserves. Moreover, the key sustainable development challenges that the region needs to address are now situated in a new and more demanding context of climate change and a rearrangement of global economic power.
The good news is that the economic situation in the region today is different from what it was in 1992, when Latin America and the Caribbean were emerging from a “lost decade” of low growth, high inflation and external debt constraints. Despite recent global economic upheaval, the region has enjoyed nearly a decade of relatively high growth, inflation is under control in nearly all the countries and, in general, stable economic conditions prevail.
States have become more robust, and the region is playing an increasingly important role in the world economy. Some countries have started to reinforce their policies on productive development, innovation, science and technology, and have returned to development planning. This means that the region is better placed to lay the foundation for a positive shift towards sustainability. Thus, “ Rio+20” represents a unique opportunity to redefine the future development vision to which countries aspire.
The Latin America and Caribbean region has contributed substantially to the “Rio+20” process, providing many ideas and proposals, including sustainable development goals, a regional initiative on principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, recognition of the central role of nature, the reminder of the dramatic situation of the small island developing States due to climate change and disaster risk, and the strengthening of the institutional framework for sustainable development. These initiatives serve as concrete reference points for achieving the desired convergence of and linkages between the three pillars of sustainable development.
The Secretary-General has placed sustainable development at the centre of his five-year Action Agenda. He and I look forward to working closely with you to make “ Rio+20” the great success it needs to be.
I now have the pleasure of inviting the leader of the regional effort that produced this report, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, to share its findings and recommendations and to speak about what we must do next to ensure sustainable development across the region.