Cepei’s Flagship Report shows Latin America and the Caribbean is called to lead changes to accelerate sustainable development

May 22, 2024

Cepei presented its second Flagship Report on May 21 and called on Latin America and the Caribbean to assume a leading role in multilateral scenarios to lead a path that ensures the acceleration of sustainable development. The document notes that only 25% of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for which there is information are advancing at a sufficient speed to achieve them in that year and emphasizes that it is essential to bring together different political visions, strengthen regional spaces for dialogue and integrate technologies such as artificial intelligence into these debates.

Miosotis Rivas, Director of the Dominican Republic’s National Statistics Office; Roberto Valent, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Coordination Office; José Pablo Céspedes, Advisor of the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica; and Luis Flores Mimica, Stakeholder Engagement Liaison Officer of ECLAC, attended the virtual event.

The Flagship Report 2024 compares the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) presented in 2023 by four countries in the region, the future of the Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Countries on Sustainable Development, and how to integrate technologies such as artificial intelligence into these discussions.

Data to improve the quality of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)

On the quality of the VNRs, Céspedes stated that one key point in improving the quality of the reports is the importance of having a solid governance framework ‘that structures and identifies elements of action that strengthen the elaboration of VNRs, as official statistical bodies on sustainable development in constant evolution.’ He also stressed the importance of receiving feedback to improve the processes: ‘We found in Cepei a central actor to improve the quality of the reports, but also in other peers interested in collaborating.’

For his part, Miosotis Rivas highlighted the importance of having a better articulation between actors in sustainable development and integrating the private sector, academia, and social actors. ‘We must help maintain the role of the National Statistical Offices as coordinators of data ecosystems. They are one of the bodies that guarantee rights and play a role of protection and trust. They should not only serve to make public policy but also to serve society.

Céspedes also highlighted the importance of connecting the VNRs of the same country, an element recommended by Cepei’s SDG VNR Quality Tracker. This seeks to reflect the progress and challenges that have been made entirely. ‘If we don’t manage to give continuity to the previous reports, we lose the timeline and the sustainability of the results that the different countries have had in the formulation of the Voluntary National Reviews,’ said Céspedes.

Rethinking spaces for dialogue, a priority

Spaces for regional dialogue are the key to ensuring that Latin America and the Caribbean meet the goals set to achieve sustainable development by 2030. The future of the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development was discussed at the event, as it has lost momentum for political, economic, and social reasons and, therefore, requires urgent changes to become relevant, effective, and attractive.

On the subject, Luis Flores said that the forum had been a space to seek synergies between actors, where it has been possible to strengthen the evolution of institutional and national implementation mechanisms. ‘The big question is what is necessary for what we have to evolve into a forum for action? Given the urgency, the forum has enormous potential (…), and we are not making the most of it that we should. We must resume a conversation with all the actors to help us define a new way of rethinking the forum,’ he said.

For his part, Roberto Valent pointed out that talking about the future is not simply about something individual but about a consensus of all the actors in development. The region must find common positions to achieve the necessary changes in the short term. ‘This is a region at the forefront in everything related to the promotion of multilateralism, and for this reason, it will play an important role in the forums and the Summit of the Future,’ he said. 

Bridging the digital divide to accelerate development

A final point touched on in the discussion was how to insert technology into the development agenda. Valent, for example, warned that it ‘will not be possible to accelerate the SDGs without bridging the digital divide. If there is one thing that is moving at the speed of light, it is AI and the digital agenda.’

For his part, Miosotis Rivas stressed the need for standards that allow and ensure quality and technological innovation in the region’s countries to have the amount of data needed to inform and use in favor of the development agenda. ‘We must turn statistical production into a virtuous circle. To this end, we must ensure the strengthening of NSOs, which must be independent of any political affiliation or political sway that may arise in the countries and that may hinder the processes.’

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