BOGOTÁ, Colombia (CMC) — Delegates attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean have called for a "more ambitious post-2015 development agenda" in promoting growth with greater inclusion, protection, social equality and environmental sustainability in the region.
Guyana's Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, speaking at the opening session on Thursday, said that "if we are going to succeed in the post-2015 development agenda, all segments of society must participate, especially those more vulnerable".
Heraldo Muñoz, chair of the United Nations Development Group - Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDG-LAC), said that it is vital to avoid the imposition of a development agenda from above.
"There's a need to include the voices of everyone and answer the emerging issues, such as civil insecurity, violence, environment, climate change, among others," he said.
The three-day conference is being organised by the Colombian government and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). It is being attended by all United Nations agencies in the region.
On the first day of the conference, participants called for efforts to reduce exposure to the negative impact of external volatility, greater levels of productive investment, increased creation of decent and quality jobs, reduced environmental pressure and resilience in the face of disasters.
According to ECLAC, the meeting is intended as the first step towards using a regional perspective to examine progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda, as well as the agreements adopted following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012.
Colombia's Foreign Affairs Minister María Ángela Holguín said there is need to focus on the present emerging global challenges and that "it's not enough to simply agree on a new version of the MDGs.
"The world has changed in unsuspected ways during the last 15 years and is impossible to foresee where we will be in 15 years' time, or even beyond that," she added.
ECLAC's executive secretary Alicia Bárcena said that "achieving the MDGs is essential, but they alone are not enough to guide development towards sustainability.
"This requires a structural change with equality, based on better production and consumption patterns, she said.
Amina J Mohammed, special advisor of the UN secretary-general on Post-2015 Development Planning, said "we need a coherent global development agenda post-2015 that integrates people and planet.
During the first day of the conference, the inter-agency document "Sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean Follow-up to the United Nations post-2015 development agenda beyond 2015 and Rio+20" was presented in a bid to "identify the region's remaining challenges in achieving the MDGs and to suggest future guidelines".
The publication includes contributions from 17 United Nations agencies in the region, and was coordinated by ECLAC.
The main findings of the document state that facing the challenges requires a new development model based on structural change for equality and environmental sustainability. It said the region is changing and the minimum threshold for well-being has risen and that is reflected in State policies with a universal vocation "social protection, health, education and employment with rights and equality".