The authorities of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) recognized the contributions made by this UN regional commission throughout its history to promote more productive, inclusive and sustainable development in the region as part of a celebration of the organization's 75th anniversary. The event took place as part of the ECOSOC Special Meeting on the “Future of Work”, which is taking place in Santiago, Chile, in an exceptional manner.
The commemoration was led by José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary of ECLAC. Ambassador Paula Narváez, President of ECOSOC and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations; the Deputy Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Alejandro Solano Ortiz, representing the member countries of ECLAC; and the Argentine Ambassador to Chile, Jorge Faurie, in his capacity as representative of the country currently holding the Presidency of ECLAC (for the period 2022-2024).
“History teaches us that 'significant innovations' have often been the result of 'significant challenges.' The creation of ECLAC is a perfect example of this,” explained Paula Narváez in her speech.
ECLAC was established on February 25, 1948 by Resolution 106 (VI) of the Sixth Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The idea came from Hernán Santa Cruz, a Chilean lawyer and diplomat who was then Chilean ambassador to the United Nations and, with great vision for the future, successfully presented and negotiated a draft resolution to establish an economic commission. for Latin America.
“Since then, ECLAC has been a mainstay in supporting Latin American and Caribbean countries in public policy development, operational support, advice, training, technical cooperation, and regional and international coordination and collaboration. ECLAC has thus become an unparalleled partner in the implementation of our development priorities,” emphasized the President of ECOSOC.
For his part, the Vice Chancellor of Costa Rica pointed out that ECLAC is “the guide for the economic thinking of the region according to its development and historical challenges”. Over these 75 years, ECLAC has been crucial to better understanding and addressing the challenges facing our countries through rigorous and in-depth research in the areas of economics and social and environmental development.”
Meanwhile, the Argentine Ambassador to Chile, Jorge Faurie, appreciated and appreciated the work of the Commission in all these years since 1948, “dedicated to collaborating with the governments of the region in the economic development of our countries and the improvement of the… “To improve the living standards of our people and to expand and strengthen trade relations within and outside the region.”
“We can say that ECLAC, like perhaps no other economic commission in the regions of the world, has managed to establish itself in providing technical assistance to all the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean so that they can identify the elements that will help them.” “ achieve growth. sustainable, real and lasting,” added Ambassador Faurie.
In his first speech, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, reviewed some milestones in ECLAC's thinking in the seven decades of its existence. He pointed out that in its beginnings and in the 1950s, ECLAC promoted the development of Latin America through a state-led industrialization policy, since this was the most efficient way to spread technical progress through trade between the “center” and the To reach the “periphery” of the global economic system. In the 1960s, a further component was added to the message in favor of “industrialization”: the proposal to implement institutional reforms – including agricultural, tax and financial reforms – which were considered essential to ensure the continuity and deepening of development make possible . industrial.
In the 1970s, Salazar-Xirinachs explained that ECLAC's thinking developed around two basic principles: the nature and difficulties of economic growth and of industrial development and income distribution. While in the 1980s, the profound economic and social crisis suffered by most countries in the region during that period led the then Executive Secretary Norberto González to call those years “the lost decade”. During this decade, ECLAC worked on analyzing the debt crisis and ways to renegotiate it.
In the 1990s, neo-structuralism emerged as a current of ECLAC thought, the aim of which was to modernize ECLAC thought, adapt it to the changes of that decade and give it greater visibility. Meanwhile, in the first decade of the 21st century, neostructuralism was divided into four broad areas: macroeconomics and finance with an emphasis on countercyclical policies, international trade, social development and environmental sustainability, topics covered in several influential Commission publications.
The Executive Secretary continued by pointing out that in the 2010s, concern for equality, although historically present in ECLAC's thinking, has become more central in this decade, expressed and based on the series of documents , known as the “Trilogy of Equality.” He added that the transition to the current decade is marked by the cascade of crises that has hit the region and the world since the pandemic in 2020. These shocks have focused much of our attention on analyzing the impact of this cascade of crises and engaging with governments and other key actors on how to address the impact.
“Our current diagnosis is that the region is in a real development crisis, manifested in three main traps or syndromes: 1) a low growth trap; 2) A high inequality trap; and 3) a trap of low institutional capacity and complex and weak governance to address the scale of the development challenges we face. In conclusion, the great challenge for the countries of the region in terms of development today is to build a more productive, inclusive and sustainable future from the present moment,” emphasized José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.
He noted that ECLAC has identified eleven major transformations of the development model, as well as a list of driving or stimulating sectors, to achieve higher, sustainable, inclusive and sustainable growth, as well as accelerate progress and transitions towards the SDGs. Areas that can be the subject of investments, alliances and international cooperation.
“I assure you that these 75 years of history and contributions of ECLAC that I have summarized inspire us every day to work hard and strategically to help countries build a more productive, inclusive and sustainable future,” the Executive Secretary concluded of the organism.