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UN Identifies Sustainable Development Progress and Gaps in LAC

27 March 2012: A UN inter-agency assessment of sustainable development efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over the past 20 years has identified advances, gaps and setbacks. The assessment also proposes guidelines for moving the region toward sustainable development.

The report, titled "Sustainable development 20 years on from the Earth Summit: progress, gaps and strategic guidelines for Latin America and the Caribbean," was presented at a side event held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, during the Third Intersessional Meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The report identifies signs of progress, such as reductions in poverty and income inequality levels, and improved energy intensity. It also highlights some areas needing further work, such as: increasing electricity supply to all; reducing the number of people living in slums; and stopping the drop in forest cover.

The report underlines that the analysis of LAC progress and gaps shows that investment in improving environmental legislation and institutionality is not enough, and that the key challenge lies in ensuring that the institutions created under the three pillars of development work toward sustainability in a comprehensive, coherent manner. Toward this end, seven cross-cutting guidelines closely related to the two themes of Rio+20 are proposed, which the UN hopes can also be of use to countries outside the region. The guidelines recommend: creating synergies among inclusion, social protection, human security, empowerment of people, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and environmental protection; measuring the sustainability of development; internalizing environmental, and social costs and benefits of public and private economic decisions; improving the coordination and consistency of public action in relation to sustainable development policies; producing and disseminating statistics and information on the environment and sustainable development; formulating better policies based on a more informed, participatory process; and strengthening education, culture, science and technology in order to build human capital for sustainability.

The preparation of the report was coordinated by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and included contributions from a variety of UN entities, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), UN-Habitat, the UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO, as the regional representative of the World Health Organization - WHO). [ECLAC Press Release] [Publication: Sustainable Development 20 Years on from the Earth Summit: Progress, Gaps and Strategic Guidelines for Latin America and the Caribbean] [UN Press Release]