Despite ambitious public policies and notable progress during the past 20 years, levels of income inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region remain among the highest in the word. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed 4,7 million people out of the middle class and into vulnerability or poverty in LAC last year, reversing decades of social gains. The crisis has shed a new light on structural social and economic problems and pre-existing vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the gap between extreme wealth and extreme poverty and vulnerability that characterises the region has become more evident and has deepened further, which impedes progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Inequalities hinder development and lead to lack of cohesion and societal tensions as we could witness in the region even prior to the COVID-19 crisis. High citizens’ expectations for solutions to overcome the crisis and rebuild back better coincide with low trust in public institutions (in 2020, only 38% of population in LAC trusted their government) exacerbated by the lack of fair access to public services or justice as an instance.
The global reach of the pandemic has shown that national responses to both the sanitary and socio-economic consequences of this crisis are not enough. The recovery from the pandemic is an opportunity to further strengthen the EU-LAC partnership, in a common search for solutions through peer-to-peer learning and exchanges of experiences. The two regions can support each other to build back better, addressing structural and systemic challenges.
Thus, this event "The recovery as an opportunity for transformative social change: pathways towards an EU-LAC partnership for cohesive societies", co-organised by the Slovenian Council Presidency, the EEAS and DG INTPA in partnership with the EU-LAC Foundation and the OECD Development Centre, will highlight the challenge of strengthening social cohesion in the post-COVID19 recovery, and discuss ways forward for the partnership between the EU and LAC region to address these challenges. It will open with a presentation of the main findings and recommendations of the 2021 Latin American Economic Outlook (OECD/ECLAC/EU), which feeding into the framework of Development in Transition will delve into options to rethinking the social contract and the role to be played by international cooperation. High level panelists from both the EU and LAC will then gather to discuss the recovery as an opportunity for transformative social change, around three main angles: (i) challenges to social protection with focus on vulnerable groups and addressing informality; (ii) the key role of fiscal policies; (iii) options for a transformative change in relation to more inclusive policy design and partnerships.
Access the Concept Note and the agenda in the attachment.