Representatives of civil society from Latin America and the Caribbean underlined that dialogue, cooperation and solidarity are more necessary than ever in the context of the crisis prompted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the region, during an event held in the framework of the thirty-eighth session of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which concluded yesterday, October 28.
The panel was moderated by Christian Guillermet Fernández, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, and the participants were Mabel Bianco, representative of the Facilitating Group of the Mechanism for Civil Society Participation in the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, and representatives of the Social Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ISALC), Clara López Obregón and Marco Romero Silva.
“Civil society organizations are an indispensable partner for governments and United Nations Organizations for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, as are academia, the private sector and other actors,” Deputy Foreign Minister Christian Guillermet stated.
He added that “it is becoming increasingly clear that long-term solutions will only be able to flourish in a collaborative governance structure made up of multiple levels.”
At the event, the organizations presented to the region’s countries two documents with recommendations on how Latin America and the Caribbean can emerge from the crisis prompted by the pandemic.
Mabel Bianco was in charge of presenting the document “Civil society organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of COVID-19: Impacts, recommendations and challenges for States,” in which more than 300 civil society organizations call attention to the problems caused by the pandemic and to how they have aggravated the state of implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the region’s countries.
“We believe there is an important need to strengthen democracy in our countries, because the pandemic further affected weak democracies. In addition, it is urgently necessary to promote decent work and implement universal social protection policies,” she stated.
Mabel Bianco also stressed the importance of ratifying some of the agreements that governments in the region have committed to.
“The Escazú Agreement is fundamental, we ask you to concentrate on this agreement, we ask this of you on behalf of the person who was the first victim of such persecution, Berta Cáceres. We don’t want to suffer any longer. We need Escazú now,” she emphasized.
Meanwhile, the representatives of the Social Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ISALC), Clara López Obregón and Marco Romero Silva, presented the document “Voices and proposals from Latin America and the Caribbean: Transformations for emerging from the crisis.”
“The document that we are presenting today is the result of a continental gathering of 16 movements and social organization platforms. You will be able to find there the proposals of social organizations made up of women, organizations that work for children’s rights, LGBTI groups, and others,” Marco Romero Silva stated.
In her remarks, Clara López Obregón expressed the desire of the Social Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean to work jointly to advance development alternatives in our region.
“The pandemic and the lockdowns revealed the deep social divisions that characterize our societies, the intensification of inequalities, poverty and informal work, which mainly affects impoverished or more vulnerable populations, as well as governments’ deficient responses due to the privatization of public goods such as health care and water,” she sustained.
She added that, as ECLAC has reiterated in its various documents, COVID-19 has sharply increased inequalities in the region.
“The impact has been a major step backwards socially, with a rare jump in poverty, an unsustainable increase in unemployment and informality, but with a special impact on women, due to care demands in times of confinement and massive job losses,” she stated.
In her final remarks, López Obregón indicated that just as Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, has said, a new contract or various social compacts are needed to tackle this crisis.
“These compacts must be based on principles of solidarity such as the defense of human life and that of the planet, social inclusion, comprehensive freedom, the primacy of what is public and of the common interest, the revival of ethics in the economy, the recognition and protection of cultural and ecosystemic diversity, the defense of common goods and the elimination of all types of discrimination, among others,” she concluded.