The Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development met in the lead-up to the July 2022 session of the HLPF, to assess progress towards the 2030 Agenda within the region’s 33 countries.
According to ECLAC, which organized the Forum, LAC is the developing region most affected by COVID-19 from a health, economic and social point of view.
Eight LAC countries will present a VNR at the 2022 HLPF.
The Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development met in the lead-up to the July 2022 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to assess progress towards the 2030 Agenda within the region’s 33 countries. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which organized the Forum, LAC is the developing region most affected by COVID-19 from a health, economic and social point of view.
The Forum convened in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 7-9 March 2022. Nearly half of the participants attended in person.
In opening remarks, Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado said “unidimensional classification criteria” for countries that are based solely on per capita income leave out many countries in the world and their most vulnerable populations, in terms of cooperation opportunities with developed partners. He added that the last years have shown that “we will never be safe if we do not save everyone.”
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, said asymmetries have deepened between developed and developing countries. Gaps have widened particularly on access to vaccines, access to financial resources, and the capacity to implement initiatives for the economic recovery. She reported that Caribbean countries (except Cuba and the Dominican Republic) have only been able to ensure full vaccination for 14.7% of their populations.
The annual report on progress towards the 2030 Agenda in the LAC region analyses these growing asymmetries and presents specific proposals on related to: financing for development; improving national and regional policy implementation; building institutions’ resilience; and overcoming conflicts through agreements and compacts.
At the close of the three-day meeting, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister summed up the Forum’s work and discussions. He highlighted the importance of:
- access to innovative financing so countries in the LAC region can recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis;
- rendering visible the region’s biodiversity; and
- aspiring to a new multilateralism that would make sustainable development the first priority and include the reconfiguration of the international financial architecture.
The participating delegates noted that 28 countries in the LAC region have conducted voluntary national reviews (VNRs) of their SDG implementation, and presented them to the HLPF. Eight additional LAC countries will do so at the 2022 session – four of which are presenting a second or third review. Forum discussions noted these countries’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda by integrating it into their national strategies and adjusting their institutional arrangements.
The outcome of the fifth forum is a set of conclusions and recommendations adopted by participating delegations. This will feed into the July 2022 session of the HLPF. The document recognizes the April 2021 entry into force of the Escazú Agreement – the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. It invites the agreement’s parties to the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Agreement (COP1), which will take place on April 20-22, 2022 in Santiago, Chile.
The recommendations also call for special dispensation to vulnerable countries in LAC with regard to credit rating agencies and debt sustainability. They invite ECLAC to continue gathering information on the impact of losing access to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and concessional finance on development gains, as countries attain different income levels, and on how the international system and national governments can ensure that the development gains associated with higher income are sustained in countries that are transitioning towards sustainable development.
The LAC forum was one in a series of five regional gatherings for each group of UN Member States, in preparation for the HLPF in July 2022. [Forum webpage]