2030 Agenda for Sustainable development ...

Opinion column by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of CEPAL

On the 25th of September in New York, Member States of the United Nations (UN) officially adopt the so-called 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which constitutes a milestone in the overall process of building more egalitarian societies capable of living in harmony with the environment.

17 Sustainable Development Goals (ODS) included in this agenda will replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that guided the efforts of countries over the past 15 years. The difference between the two agendas is relevant for Latin America and the Caribbean: the new roadmap addresses several dimensions of inequality, the main problem in that region.

The 2030 Agenda incorporates the three pillars of sustainable development and covers crucial aspects for the region in terms of education, housing, food safety, provision of basic services, urban development, social protection and risk management of catastrophic events. It also incorporates the notion of goods of common interest, such as protection of the oceans, atmosphere and biodiversity.

The new goals agreed by the participating countries, in an unprecedented democratic process demand significant changes, which have already been warned by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), which in recent years has called countries to undertake a structural change in their modes of production and consumption. Favoring additional knowledge and environmentally sustainable initiatives accompanied by broad social pacts with long-term vision.

The new global agenda proposes for the first time the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030, and considers, as it has historically been done by CEPAL, that decent, quality employment is the master key to achieving a more inclusive development. Employment with rights must go hand in hand with industrialization and technological innovation to improve productivity and efficiency in the use of resources.

In terms of gender, relevant progress is taking place when proposing the three dimensions of women's autonomy necessary to achieve full equality: economic, political and physical autonomy. It aims to eliminate all forms of violence against women, provide equal access to economic resources and to recognize and value of unpaid work. The gender perspective is also incorporated into other objectives.

It is vital for the region to strengthen domestic resource mobilization to implement this agenda, considering that savings rates and tax revenues are generally low and that access to traditional sources of external financing has been reduced. Our countries also face the challenge of channeling more effectively private financing flows, as well as devising innovative financing mechanisms.

Sustainable development requires a considerable collective action. An agenda like the one we're agreeing upon today requires multilateral development agreements since global governance should be universal and inclusive and reflect the interests, needs and objectives of the international community as a whole. This is an even greater challenge when considering the challenges related to climate change and the asymmetry of the international financial architecture.

Exploiting the potential of the technological revolution, the 2030 agenda should focus on a participatory and transparent processes going from the bottom up and from the national to the regional and from regional to global.

CEPAL is approaching its first seven decades of dedicated life, as always, imagining ways for economic, social and environmental development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In this context, we see the ODS as a bridge between the short and the long term. Today, in the context of the 2030 Agenda we have new and better tools and solid institutions to carry out a transformative process and overcome the most pronounced feature of our region: inequality. As it's highlighted in the new agenda, our obligation is not to leave anyone behind.

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