Economic growth alone will not reduce poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was a key message from the U. N. Development Programme during a meeting with over 20 officials including ministers, senators, academics and leaders of major multilateral organizations in the region.
The Programme simulated what would happen if the region grew during 2017 to 2020 at the same rate as it did during the last decade. That was 3.9 percent annually.
The estimates show that less people in Latin America and the Caribbean would be lifted from poverty than in the previous decade. While an average of 6.5 million women and men in the region left poverty every year during 2003 and 2012, only about 2.6 million a year would leave poverty behind (earning more than US$4 a day) between 2017 and 2020, the Programme said.
“Clearly, more of the same in terms of growth and public policies will no longer yield more of the same in poverty and inequality reduction,” said Jessica Faieta. U.N. assistant secretary general and Programme director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Higher economic growth does not necessarily generate greater social progress: different policies must be in place, particularly at a time when fiscal resources, crucial to expand social safety nets, have shrunk,” she said.
The Programme stressed that people’s well being must reflect more than income alone, calling on the region’s leaders to focus on multidimensional progress. This includes investing in skills for better employment opportunities, in financial systems that prevent over-indebtedness and reducing gender gaps.
“Many countries in the region have achieved quantitative and qualitative progress. However, we must not fall into complacency,” added Diego Canepa, secretary to the presidency of the Republic of Uruguay. The challenge is to consolidate this progress and deepen the discussions, many of them promoted by the United Nations. Change is what ensures sustainability.”