A report from Trinidad’s Guardian.
According to the document signed by government delegates gathered at the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development which concluded here on Friday in Mexico City, delegates recognised that governments bear the fundamental responsibility for fulfilling the commitment, stressing the need to foster participation by all relevant stakeholders in the process.
The annual forum was created by the mandate of ECLAC’s member countries during its 36th session —held in May 2016 in Mexico City —as the regional mechanism for implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda.
According to ECLAC, the Agenda, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, establishes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets for the year 2030.
“With the first meeting of this new forum, the Latin American and Caribbean countries have advanced in implementing the 2030 Agenda by engaging in a systematic process of follow-up and review at the regional level, building on existing mechanisms,” said the delegates in their conclusions and recommendations adding that this “provides useful opportunities for regional cooperation and peer learning, including through voluntary reviews, sharing of best practices and discussion on agreed targets and identified challenges.”
At the event’s closing ceremony, the Foreign Affairs Secretary of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, indicated that, for the government, “it was a privilege to have been the seat of the forum’s first meeting,” which, he said, left behind two significant messages.
“Multilateralism works and is important,” especially “at a time when voices, some of them very powerful ones, are being raised that question this principle of global coexistence,” Videgaray said.
“It has become clear that Latin America and the Caribbean presents itself before the world as a region that exercises its leadership proudly, where precedents are set, and we dare to innovate,” to transform the reality of the region and the planet with a common agenda, he added.
Videgaray said there is regional agreement about the need to have institutions and precise instruments of measurement for the SDGs, about the relevance of carrying out peer reviews in a process of collective improvement, and on the existence of national councils or committees, of a state nature, for the follow-up, implementation and evaluation of the 2030 Agenda.
Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, also celebrated the results of the forum’s first session.
“The step forward that we are making today is marvelous,” she said. “You, the countries of the region, have given us an enormous testimony of your commitment.
“What an honour, what pride and emotion lies in witnessing the supportive and integrating will with which you have acted jointly to build this space,” she added.
“In complex times, of great uncertainty and marked by difficulties, Latin America and the Caribbean has given a potent demonstration of agreement and unity,” Bárcena continued, emphasizing that “multilateral cooperation is the only way to resolve the problems that afflict humanity.”
Although the 2030 Agenda is unique, there are many ways to implement it, meaning that “it is necessary to convert it into a state policy and align the Sustainable Development Goals with national plans and budgets,” Bárcena said. In their declaration, regional countries stressed that the attainment of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls will contribute in a crucial way to achieving the SDGs.
They emphasized the “transcendent importance” that official development assistance and climate financing have for the region, adding that South-South cooperation is a “significant element in international cooperation that complements, rather than replaces, North-South cooperation.
Regional countries also recognised the possible repercussions of automatisation and exponential technological changes on diverse areas of regional development.
The first meeting of the regional forum on sustainable development, inaugurated on April 26, drew 789 participants: 208 delegates from 35 countries (31 from Latin America and the Caribbean and four observers from other regions), 288 representatives from 198 civil society organisations, 157 delegates from 39 intergovernmental bodies, 125 special guests and representatives of the private sector and academia, and 11 parliamentarians from eight countries.