Third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development

By Elena Dal Bo, Inclusion International’s Regional Representative of the Americas

The Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development is a regional mechanism to follow up and review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals and targets  established at the 36th session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), held in Mexico City in May 2016.

The goals of equality, ending poverty, education and creating a healthy environment are particularly relevant for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families because they are usually among the poorest and most invisible members of society.

On April 23rd the Latin America and the Caribbean civil society consultation was held, prior to the 3rd meeting of the Forum. There, mechanisms of participation which have been under a temporary organization since 2016 were replaced by permanent groups of stakeholders, and  permanent coordinators of each group were elected.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the ECLAC presented the Quadrennial report on regional progress and challenges in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. She explained the particular factors of the Region, stressing the relevance of corruption, poverty, and weakness of democracies.  She also highlighted the problems of measuring progress in terms of GDP which hides the real situation of inequality and extreme difference between the richest and the poorest.

The analysis presented by Bárcena included projections to 2030 for 20 indicators of progress on 15 of the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean. She identified some dynamics in regional trends:
1. The target aimed at reducing the mortality rate of children under 5 years of age to fewer than 25 for every 1,000 live births (target 3.2) has already been achieved.
2. The target aimed at achieving universal and equitable access to drinking water at a price that is affordable to all (target 6.1) will not be reached.

In addition, the trend on access to secondary education is not enough for all children to be able to complete this level in a timely way by 2030 (target 4.1), and the positive trend seen on reducing the percentage marking the prevalence of undernourishment (target 2.1) came to a halt. Meanwhile, the recent economic and distributive performance is insufficient for eliminating extreme poverty: in the last 10 years, Latin America’s GDP has grown by less than 2% annually (1.7%). At the same time, the coefficient measuring income distribution has declined 0.9% annually over a period of 10 years.

“Halving poverty requires greater growth and better distribution. If there is not greater equality, it will be very difficult to achieve the poverty targets,” Bárcena sustained.

Definitively, “without a change in the development pattern, the targets of various SDGs will not be achieved. Here, policies for equality and growth are indispensable. We also need an environmental big push with policies on industry, investment and innovation for progressive structural change,” she said.

It was also acknowledged that the political consensus achieved around the 2030 Agenda is in danger, and countries were urged to defend it.

Governments declared the need of the appropriation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the citizens, and denounced the lack of integration of the SDGs with the climate goals and corruption at all levels present in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are some of the critical links of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the region.

They also welcome the ongoing process to strengthen and adapt the United Nations development system to better support Member States in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, avoiding a one-size-fits-all model for the regional approach, being necessary to consider the specifics of each region and the strengths of its regional mechanisms.

On the other hand, the general conclusion of the civil society was that Governments do not open spaces to participation of CSOs. Thus, the Declaration of Civil Society Organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean to be read at the Forum of States Parties was called “Two Monologues do not make a dialogue”.

Rosario Galarza was designed by the Stakeholders group to read it on Thursday at the Forum.

Rosario Galarza has been reelected as the Focal Person For the Stakeholders group on disability. Rosario is a blind person from Peru, belongs to ULAC and RIADIS. The Alternate Focus person continues to be Dean Lerman, who is a blind person from Colombia,and belongs to ULAC and RIADIS).

The main conclusion of the CSOs is to demand governments to open forms of participation to these organizations. They highlighted the importance of two documents: the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development and the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, also called Escazu Agreement.

The Conclusions of the Forum.

There was a diversity of side events during the Forum, from the 22nd to the 26th. We attended those on Elder persons, national Institutes of HHRR, Agenda, Escazu Agreement, role of civil society, trying to make visible the group of persons with disabilities, because as a general conclusion, this group is very little taken into account by governments or by the rest of stakeholder groups.