For several reasons, Latin America could emerge as one of the most influential regions in the negotiations on what will follow the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015.
First: The politics — As discussed in a recent independent report commissioned by UNDP, ‘A Laboratory for Sustainable Development? Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Post-2015 Agenda’, Latin America has successfully captured the most important positions in the bodies engaged with the post-2015 framework. This gives the region a unique opportunity to lead and influence the outcome of the negotiations. Colombia currently presides over the Economic and Social Council, Bolivia heads the G77 group of nations, and Antigua and Barbuda will hold the Presidency of the General Assembly until the 69th session. In addition, Brazil currently leads the World Trade Organization, and the COP 20 climate negotiations will take place in Lima, Peru.
Second: The lessons and experience — Latin America is a testing ground for innovative sustainable development approaches. The region has designed and implemented some of the most recognized development programs, combining poverty reduction with social inclusion. Successful cash transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, Mexico’s Oportunidades and Chile’s Solidario have helped increase household incomes, raise school enrollment and reduce malnutrition.
Third: The credibility — The success of these policies gives the region credibility to talk about development. Though still a recipient of official development assistance, Latin America has successfully reduced poverty primarily through domestic resource mobilization and social investment. Governments prioritized social spending programs and policies that enabled poor households to reduce vulnerabilities through protection mechanisms and decent employment. As a result, according to the World Bank, over 70 million people were lifted out of poverty and 50 million joined the middle class between 2003 and 2011 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
People will listen to the region because of its leadership position in the new framework and its innovative experience of poverty reduction and social inclusion. Its diversity means the process to reach a consensus could be a preview of the wider inter-governmental negotiations to come. Developing countries are asking what they can learn from Latin America's experience — whether it seizes the opportunity to shape and steer the negotiations could determine whether the post-2015 agenda is truly transformative.