8 February 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
DSG/SM/538
REC/238

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sustainable Development Solutions Central to Latin American and Caribbean Region,

 

Deputy Secretary-General Tells Meeting of Region’s Economic Commission

 


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening remarks at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Regional Coordination Mechanism Meeting, in Santiago, Chile, today, 8 February:


Thank you for your warm welcome.  It is a pleasure to be here in beautiful Santiago to chair this meeting.  I convey warm greetings from the Secretary-General.  I thank the Government of Chile for its unwavering support to ECLAC and the larger United Nations family of organizations.  I also thank [ECLAC Executive Director] Ms. [Alicia] Bárcena for her leadership.


Most of all, a special thanks to all of you here.  Your work in strengthening policy coherence and in creating synergies at the regional and subregional levels is critical to improving the lives of all the region’s people, including women and children.  This is why Secretary-General Ban [Ki-moon] and I place a premium in fostering the relationship between United Nations Headquarters and the Regional Commissions.


2010 was a very difficult year for Latin America and the Caribbean and for the United Nations.  It began with the unprecedented devastation and loss of life in Haiti.  And the region suffered another earthquake here in Chile last February.  In both instances there were casualties and destruction on a massive scale.  I commend the dedication and resilience that United Nations staff demonstrated in helping the victims and communities of these disasters.  You have shown that United Nations programmes, funds and specialized agencies in this region work as a team — as one.  Such close cooperation is essential for transforming this region, for equalizing economic and social opportunities for people from Port-au-Prince to Punta Arenas.  As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals draws near, cooperation becomes even more important.


During the period from 2003 to 2008, the region’s progress towards fulfilling the goals accelerated — in part because of strong economic growth. Many countries have made tremendous strides in reducing extreme poverty.  The region saw one of the world’s greatest reductions in the mortality rate for children under five.  More women are reaching their potential in the business world and in government. Overall progress on the Goals, however, has varied greatly across regions and countries.  In some nations, large parts of the population still live in extreme poverty.  And the global financial and economic crisis has stymied progress on some goals, and reversed it in others.


We will need to redouble efforts if we are to raise living standards and achieve the other gains we need.  Sustainable development solutions must be central to our work.  Economic, social and environmental goals must be tightly interwoven in all frameworks, policies and programmes.  Sustainable development is especially relevant for this region, where the toll of death and economic loss from natural disasters is on the rise.  The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as well as the recent floods in Brazil, have underscored the need for infrastructure and housing that can withstand environmental shock and the need for comprehensive, long-term development solutions as these societies rebuild.


Next year is the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.  It also marks 20 years since the Rio Earth Summit gave the world a blueprint for sustainable development.  I am pleased that this meeting today and tomorrow will focus on preparations for the next landmark event on this issue:  the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.


We must do more than just take stock and identify gaps next year.  New challenges have emerged over the past two decades, climate change above all.  Our challenge is to secure strong political commitment for the long-overdue changes in economic models, lifestyles, policies and politics that will make sustainable development happen.  The role of Regional Commissions, and ECLAC in particular, as well as the contribution of the Regional Coordination Mechanism will be critical to a successful Conference.  Experience has shown that regional preparatory processes are essential if ownership and specific perspectives are to be heard and reflected at the global level.


On the road to the Conference, it is critical that we focus on creating joint programmes with clear agendas and timelines.  The United Nations system, Governments and the business community must work together to create cross-sectoral approaches — the essence of sustainable development.  Only then will all stakeholders be satisfied — and “win-win” solutions achieved.


I trust that your organizations will collaborate closely with ECLAC and the secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  I thank you in advance for your dedication to making the Conference a turning point in the trajectory of sustainable development.  Thank you for your hard work and commitment to carrying out the mission of the United Nations.


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For information media • not an official record