Historically, the incidence of Latin America and the Caribbean in major global decisions has been modest. It is true that we have dragged along more than a hundred years of solitude, but as was confirmed at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, the time has come to come out of the international shadows and increase our impact on the great global challenges of the coming decades. While in the 1980s an innovation ecosystem was developing in the United States that was going to revolutionize the way we live, consume and think, the region lived from day to day, immersed in domestic problems, such as the famous debt crisis. A decade later, when modern democracies and market economies were consolidating on the international board, the region remained in a day-to-day life marked by internal turbulence and low productivity, although it began to integrate better, for example through the treaty of free trade between Mexico and the United States, the birth of Mercosur or the celebration of the first Summit of the Americas in 1994.
The arrival of the 21st century brought with it the rise of China and the Asian tigers, but also good news for the region: historic growth of the middle classes (reaching more than 30% of the population), significant reduction in poverty (from 45.5% in 2004 to 27.8% in 2014), and unprecedented growth levels (an average of more than 4% between 2003 and 2010), although lower than those registered in Asian countries. The pandemic hit Latin American economies hard, but it also made it clear that we need to forget political differences and join forces to give the region a new global voice. This new voice must position us as an essential actor in the great global challenges such as climate change, digitization or the use of migratory flows.
To achieve a Latin American position that has a global impact, we need to deepen synergies with strategic allies such as the United States, Europe, China and the Middle East, and integrate more and better into global decision-making forums. In this sense, the Summit of the Americas made it clear that we are prepared to provide dynamic and innovative solutions and to lead initiatives that can be replicated in other parts of the world. Climate change, the protection of biodiversity and the energy transition are very illustrative examples of the global impact of the region. We have 60% of the planet’s biodiversity, 25% of the tropical forests, 28% of the land with potential for agriculture, 20% of the world’s hydroelectric capacity (Brazil is the second largest producer on the planet), and so far we have only developed 23% of our hydroelectric potential.
These figures suggest that Latin America and the Caribbean can become a determining actor in the global fight against climate change, and also represent a great competitive advantage, since nature-based solutions are an effective and profitable response to global warming. global. In parallel is the potential of the region to generate clean energy or provide food to the world population.
To refine the global voice of the region, from CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) we are building new bridges of cooperation. For example, in our participation in the Summit of the Americas we promoted important advances at the level of coordination of climate action. At a meeting of Latin American ministers in which John Kerry, the United States’ special envoy for climate, participated, a roadmap was agreed to reduce methane emissions, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases. In addition, together with the Inter-American Dialogue, we organized a meeting of 10 mayors from Latin American cities and five from the United States, including those from Los Angeles and Denver, to reinforce joint work on migration and climate change. Another of the initiatives that we are promoting is the holding of a summit of European and Latin American finance ministers that coincides with the Spanish presidency of the EU in the second half of 2023, and that contributes to the exchange of knowledge and the creation of new synergies between the EU and Latin America. Other areas discussed at the Summit and of the Americas in which the region must provide innovative solutions are cities and migratory flows. Currently 80% of Latin Americans live in urban areas and, at the same time, more than 113 million people live in informal settlements, a process driven by the growth in the rate of migrants, which has increased by at least 107%. during the last three decades. Migratory flows must contribute more to economic and social growth, but we need to create the conditions to reduce forced migration and, in turn, allow regular migrants to develop their potential. We are a young, dynamic and innovative region, endowed with enviable natural resources. It is time to change the historical inertia and put Latin America and the Caribbean on the map of the great global solutions.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS América newsletter and receive all the key information on current affairs in the region