1 May 2018
LAC Forum Calls for Regional Unity to Achieve SDGs
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
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UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the Forum highlights the roles that UN regional economic commissions have in enhancing coordination and collaboration among governments, stakeholders and the UN system.

ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena noted "the culture of privilege naturalizes inequality" and the Forum is a space for ending it.

Participants agreed that active participation of civil society is indispensable for achieving the SDGs and targets in LAC.

20 April: The second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development began with a call for regional unity to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and discussed challenges faced in implementing it. The meeting also highlighted the importance of the regional dimension in the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), where the Forum’s conclusions will be presented.

The Forum’s meeting convened in Santiago, Chile, from 18-20 April 2018, during which more than 650 participants met in 38 parallel events to renew their commitment to advance the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. The meeting was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of Mexico, which currently holds the ECLAC presidency.

During the opening ceremony, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena noted “the culture of privilege naturalizes inequality,” and said the Forum is a space for ending it. She said the region must have a strong voice and ask for global economic solidarity to confront challenges such as climate change and labor market transitions resulting from the fourth technological revolution. She called for changing consumption and production patterns, and economic decarbonization.

In a video message, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the Forum highlights the roles of UN regional economic commissions in enhancing coordination and collaboration among governments, stakeholders and the UN system. She also commended the LAC region for leadership in presenting VNRs during the HLPF. Of the 33 LAC countries, 19 will have presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to the HLPF as of 2018. Among these, three will be presenting for the second time: Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. The 2018 session of the HLPF will meet from 9-18 July, in New York, US.

The Forum’s conclusions and recommendations stress: the need to accelerate implementation of and raise awareness on the SDGs; that achieving the SDGs depends on public and private sector participation; the importance of mobilizing financial and non-financial resources, and building capacities for the development, transfer, disclosure and dissemination of environmentally friendly technologies; and the need to increase international and regional cooperation for more scientific and endogenous technologies development.

The conclusions also reaffirm the importance of South-South cooperation, calling attention to the Second High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, which will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 20-22 March 2019. The conclusions also call on all countries to sign onto and ratify the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters (Principle 10), noting it is an important step toward meeting the 2030 Agenda.

The meeting’s parallel events considered such issues as the shift toward sustainable and resilient societies, the theme of HLPF 2018, migration, and interregional dialogue between LAC and Europe on implementing the 2030 Agenda, among others. On migration, a briefing was held on regional progress regarding the global compact for ‘safe, orderly and regular migration,’ during which speakers emphasized, as clear objectives in the 2030 Agenda, adopting agreements aimed at: building rights-based governance; protecting migrant workers; eradicating human trafficking; and reducing costs of transferring remittances.

Barcena said citizen distrust in institutions and other issues have been overshadowing the 2030 Agenda in the public debate.

A peer learning session addressed continuity in implementing the 2030 Agenda and new challenges in light of changes in government in the region, during which participants said compliance with the Agenda and achieving the SDGs are the responsibility of the State and not of government. The session also discussed reproducing a model of national governance in states and municipalities.

During a session on ‘The role of the business sector in generating sustainable consumption and production patterns in LAC,’ participants stressed: private sector engagement as essential to achieving the SDGs; business models and value chains must transform toward sustainable consumption patterns, such as changing the internal culture of companies; engaging small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs); and defining new rules of dialogue between the State and the private sector. Addressing the event, Bárcena called for generating compacts that enable the creation of “a new development paradigm.” She proposed establishing three regional compacts with the business sector on: responsible and sustainable food production to help preserve terrestrial ecosystems; sustainable energy and moving toward increasingly intensive use of renewable energies; and the transition from the material to the digital world.

During an event on the the first binding regional agreement on Principle 10, participants urged LAC countries to sign and ratify the Escazu Agreement (named after the Costa Rican municipality where it was adopted), which will be open for signature as of 27 September 2018. Participants stated that the agreement: will help build legitimacy and social cohesion in region through its regulations; contributes to compliance with and guarantees the procedural rights essential for implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; consecrates the protection of environmental defenders’ human rights for the first time; and explicitly links environmental matters with human rights.

Prior to the Forum, a civil society consultation convened on 17 April, where participants agreed that active participation of civil society is indispensable for achieving the SDGs and targets in LAC. During the consultation, Bárcena warned about the increase in citizen distrust toward institutions (citing that 75% of Latin Americans have little or no trust in them), a deteriorating relationship with public services especially in education and health, a rise in corruption in the region, and fear regarding political and economic uncertainties at a global level. She said these issues have been overshadowing the 2030 Agenda’s importance in the public debate, and invited civil society representatives to work with governments on a joint regional position as the region’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda, to be presented at the HLPF. Civil society representatives supported an institutional mechanism for participation and for linking civil society, ECLAC and other bodies. They also noted limitations of the 2030 Agenda indicators, particularly regarding inequality.

At ECLAC’s 36th session, held in Mexico City in May 2016, a resolution was adopted establishing the Forum as a regional mechanism to follow up and review implementation of the 2030 Agenda for, including the SDGs and targets, its means of implementation, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) then endorsed the establishment of the Forum, which met for the first time in Mexico City from 26-28 April 2017. The 37th session of ECLAC will meet in Havana, Cuba, from 7-11 May. The 2019 Forum will include a special session dedicated to youth. [ECLAC Press Release on Opening of the Forum] [Conclusions and Recommendations of the Forum] [Statement of ECLAC Executive Secretary] [ECLAC Press Release on Migration] [ECLAC Press Release on Compliance and State Policy] [ECLAC Press Release on Business Model][ECLAC Press Release Calling on Countries to Ratify Regional Agreement on Principle 10] [Press Center for Forum] [Op-Ed by ECLAC Executive Secretary on Regional Contribution to the SDGs] [ECLAC Press Release on Civil Society Consultation] [Civil Society Consultation Website]

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