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ECLAC head praises work with OECD


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ECLAC head praises work with OECD
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s executive director. (Internet image)

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Santiago – The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, has underscored what she describes as “the fruitful joint work” carried out with the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in support of the sustainable development of regional countries.

Bárcena addressed the 5th anniversary of the OECD’s Regional Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean on Friday, paying special tribute to Ángel Gurría, the OECD’s outgoing Secretary-General – who leaves his post on Monday.

She also highlighted the emphasis given to Latin America and the Caribbean under his tenure and conveyed best wishes to Mathias Cormann, Australia’s former Finance Minister, who will succeed Gurría at the head of OECD’s Regional Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday.

“For ECLAC, it has been an honor working hand-in-hand with the OECD, being partners through different initiatives such as policy dialogues, data collection, analysis and reports, including with the Office of the Secretary-General, different thematic directorates – including the Global Relations Directorate – and the OECD Development Centre,” Bárcena said.

She noted that the international economy is undergoing a period of major transformations, where climate change, migration, the technological revolution, increasing trade disputes and health are just some of the examples.

“The world faces old and new challenges, and this calls for new compromises, agreements and policies,” she said.

In this regard, Bárcena said that the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for “a paradigm shift from the prevailing development patterns and existing culture of privilege towards a new model that prioritizes sustainability and equality.

“This global agenda requires actions and policies geared towards inclusive growth, the elimination of poverty and sustainable patterns of production and consumption, integrating the economic, social and environmental spheres,” the ECLAC head said.

She emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, and made clear the importance of working together and strengthening support for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to foster institutional settings, the building of financial capacities, and to develop social and technological capabilities.

“These are key issues to build up more resilient and inclusive societies,” said Bárcena, adding that Latin America and the Caribbean is “a development in transition region that faces numerous challenges.”

She said that the region has “an undiversified production structure, characterised by low productivity and a lack of technological upgrading, which has been hard hit by the pandemic, with the closure of 2.7 million Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and major impacts on employment”.

ECLAC estimated that 47 million jobs have been lost during the pandemic.

Bárcena also said that the region has also seen increases in poverty and inequality, despite the social gains made in the last decade.

“We have estimated that, in 2020, the total number of poor people rose to 209 million, 22 million more people than the year before, while the average Gini index (which measures inequality) likely increased by 5.6 percent versus 2019,” she said.

In addition, Bárcena said “Latin America – and the Caribbean in particular – are very vulnerable to climate change and have already experienced its negative effects.”

Furthermore, she said the region has limited taxation capacity, stating that its lack of progressive tax structures continues to be a concern.

“Addressing local and global challenges requires more than ever a comprehensive and renewed approach to partnerships, a new international cooperation perspective based on common interests, shared values and strong complementarities,” Bárcena said.

“These are the common interests and values that we share with the OECD,” she added.  (CMC)