Photo: Marita Gonzalez CGT, Agustina Carpio FOCO/GCAP, Alicia Bárcena CEPAL, &  Andrés Larigoistia CTA 

The Forum, which this year was held from 22 to 26 April at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile, comprised of representatives of governments, civil society, academia, the private sector and the United Nations system, who were committed to discuss the problems that are found in the region in the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental.

In its 3rd edition, this event comprises the coordination of different working groups to analyze the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the region and the commitment of the countries to the achieve of the SDGs and it also prepares for the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), in New York in July, where countries will present their National Voluntary Reports (VNRs), either for the first, second or third time, in order to engage in multilateralism and in pursuit of regional cooperation in LAC. This year the SDGs being evaluated are : SDG 4, SDG 8, SDG 10, SDG 13, SDG 16 and SDG 17.

On this occasion, the Forum was carried out in a very participatory manner by all the countries of the region, including both civil society and governmental representatives as well as the different organizations dependant on the UN (where in some cases civil society is also based).

In this framework, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, began the first of five working days noting that through the Forum countries of the region have made progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. According to Bárcena, 29 of the 33 countries in the region currently have institutional mechanisms to coordinate and monitor the 2030 Agenda at the national level, based on legal instruments that define their scope and objectives. This notable institutional progress was accompanied by the preparation of VNRs that describe the activities of the coordination mechanisms and the progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Considering that 22 VNRs have already been presented and countries have expressed interest to submit reports in 2019-2020, in the five years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda the region will have 32 reports prepared by 24 countries. Furthermore, since globally only 17 countries will have presented at least two reports between 2016 and 2020, the fact that 7 of them are from Latin America and the Caribbean shows the commitment of the region to the 2030 Agenda.

However, Alicia Bárcena warned that the third meeting of the regional mechanism is being held amid a growing weakening of international cooperation, caused by defensive policies in response to the negative impacts of hyperglobalization, and aggravating the situation, the weakening of confidence in the democracies in our region.

In response, she said “the response is to persevere in international cooperation and understanding, promoting trade, integration, strengthening dialogue and cooperation among countries”.

“It is proven that multilateralism at the international level is compatible with the strengthening of democracy at the national level when multilateral agreements meet certain conditions, that is, when they favor the diffuse interests of the many over the concentrated interests of the most powerful groups, protect the rights of minorities and most vulnerable sectors, and strengthen the deliberative capacities of governments, the private sector and civil society, stimulating a debate that combines transparency, diversity of views and analytical capacity, among others,” she said.

Although we are on track to complete the 2030 Agenda, as civil society we have strong challenges since Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be the most unequal region on the planet. ECLAC has emphasized that inequality is inefficient and that social policies are, at the same time, capacity building policies. The promotion of sustainable growth must stimulate the creation of jobs with rights that, together with ambitious and universalist social policies, recover the trust and legitimacy of democratic systems, while opening spaces for international cooperation as an instrument of development.

A positive point to highlight is the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (ESCAZU) Agreement. This international treaty signed in 2018 is the only binding agreement on environmental protection and is awaiting ratification by the signatory countries, and calls for an even greater commitment to pressure governments to ratify and comply with its binding nature.

In addition, the civil society document was read in the plenary session before the last day and with great acceptance of all the civil society represented there, with the hope that it’s conclusions will be included in the HLPF in July, since it is the last opportunity to present the objectives under review this year.

This year is also the quadrennial meeting of the commitment taken in 2015 in the framework of the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, in order to analyze the process towards the 2030 Agenda globally since its adoption at the meeting for financing for Development in Addis Abbeba.

In this context, together with colleagues from the CGT and the CTA, my FOCO colleague, Hernán Medina, and I as a GCAP LAC representative, we presented to Alicia Barcena our new national coalition – PAMPA2030 (Plataforma Argentina de Monitoreo Para Agenda 2030 – Argentina Platform for Monitoring for the 2030 Agenda), which we formed a year ago with broad coalition of civil society actors.

This Argentine initiative was very well received by the other regional civil society organizations who  also have the intention to replicate it in their countries.

The intention of ​​the coalition is to train, monitor, influence the achievement of the Agenda and the SDGs by 2030, with the planning of good practices that allow us to advance in each of the objectives, and federalizing them in our countries. Our shadow reports will allow us to reliably monitor each of the SDGs (under annual review and not), as well as address each of the themes of the agenda thanks to the diversity of specialists working within PAMPA2030 , and provide a much more comprehensive and representative report.

Agustina Carpio

GCAP Global Council member for LAC
FOCO – Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos.
INPADE Instituto por la Participación y el Desarrollo
GCAP Argentina