The Latin American and Caribbean Forum on Territorial Economic Development took place in Quito, Ecuador, from the 18th to the 19th of May 2015. The aim of this event was to facilitate the dialogue and the exchange of successful experiences on Territorial Economic Development (TED) between local, national and international actors, tackling in particular the challenges faced by the Latin American and Caribbean region. In addition, the results achieved during the forum allowed unifying and harmonizing the voice, points of view and positioning of Latin America and the Caribbean towards the 3rd World Forum of Local Economic Development (LED) to be held in Turin, Italy, from the 13th to the 16th of October 2015.
The regional forum was organized by the National Secretariat of Planning and Development of Ecuador (SENPLADES), the Consortium of Provincial Governments of Ecuador (CONGOPE), the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Regional Decentralized Government of the Pichincha Province (GADPP), the Central University of Ecuador (UCE), the Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL), together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ecuador and with the support of the UNDP ART Initiative. Moreover, the forum relied on the support of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The Forum counted with the attendance of over 350 participants from 23 countries, representatives of national and sub-national governments and their associations, social and economic actors of the territories, academia and multilateral agencies. The success of the event demonstrates the importance of the theme in the region, where the TED is appreciated as a useful means to address many of the fundamental challenges faced by Latin America and the Caribbean, such as inequality, the creation of employment possibilities, sustainable development, social inclusion and economic empowerment of traditionally excluded groups. Being 2015 a pivotal year for the debate on development commitments at the global level with the definition of the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Forum also focused on how the TED can be an effective means for implementing the future SDGs in the territories.
The plenary sessions and workshops of the Quito’s Forum enabled a discussion and a sharing of the richness of approaches, practices and instruments related to TED, developed in the region over recent years, with important lessons learnt on integrated TED strategies, mainly focusing on four cross-cutting themes : Theme I: The role of Territorial Development in the process of changing the productive matrix: Policies and lessons learned; Theme II: Popular and Solidarity Economy: Social inclusion and territorial opportunities; Topic III: Multilevel Governance of Local Economic Development: local-national coordination; Theme IV: Linking the University to local development processes based on research, innovation, entrepreneurship culture and situational analysis of the territory. The Secretary General of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper, affirmed that the region has achieved a sustainable development but remains one of the most asymmetric regions, with huge gaps between rural and urban areas and in terms of gender, considering TED as a useful tool to reduce such inequalities.
Diego Zorrilla, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ecuador said that local ownership “is indispensable” to achieve the SDGs that will be adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in September this year. Zorrilla said that it is necessary to form an articulated system of multilevel governance in the territories in order to ensure sustainable and inclusive human development.
Pabel Muñoz, Secretary of Planning and Development (SENPLADES), Gabriela Rosero from the Technical Secretariat for International Cooperation (SETECI), Martin Bazurco Osorio, Vice Minister of Micro and Small Enterprise of Bolivia and Paul Carrasco, Prefect of the Province of Azuay and President of the United Regions were present at the event, among other authorities.
Opening session of the Forum.
Enzo Lavolta, Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Turin, Italy, and Johannes Krassnitzer, representative of the UNDP ART Initiative, stressed the importance of the Forum of Quito as a preparatory event for the positioning of Latin America and the Caribbean towards the 3rd World Forum of LED of Turin. They informed the participants that the Forum of Turin will explore how LED can represent a means for implementing the future SDGs at the local level as it promotes a comprehensive framework for inclusive, well-balanced and sustainable development, it provides a framework of articulation between administrative and territorial levels, as well of multi-actor’s coordination and dialogue, and finally it provides a framework for the generation, mobilization and promotion of resources: skills, knowledge, finance, natural and cultural resources. The Forum of Turin will delve three main areas: Theme I: Regional competitiveness and innovation for more sustainable and inclusive development; Theme II: Localizing employment generation: towards local inclusive growth and jobs; and Theme III: Towards sustainable urbanization: LED strategies for creating positive urban rural linkages.
The discussions highlighted that despite unprecedented progress, yet Latin America is the region with the greatest levels of inequality. Many groups, particularly women, youth, indigenous peoples, peasants, Afro-descendants, the elderly and marginalized minorities, have no access to decent employment opportunities or to public quality goods that ensure their social inclusion. There are also intra-national disparities between territories, with poles of dynamism and development opposed to depressed areas. Participants highlighted how the DET’s focus generates dynamics of articulation between different levels of government and sectors, between public, private and social actors of the territories taking into account traditionally excluded groups, as well as between urban and rural areas, establishing bases for a democratic, endogenous and sustainable development that responds more efficiently to the challenges of sustainable human and equitable development.
During the closing session of the Forum, further relevant information was presented to the audience, such as the presentation of the Agreement between IDB FOMIN and UNDP, the presentation of the initiative of decentralized cooperation between territories in Europe and Ecuador Innovative Sustainable Territorial Partnerships (I-STEPS), promoted by UNDP, the constitution of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Linking Universities and Local Development and the Civil Society platform towards Habitat III. The outcomes and contribution of the various sessions were captured in the Regional Position of the Forum and will be presented in detail in the final report of the Regional Forum. Meanwhile, you can access the regional position as well as all the presentations of the Forum on the following web site: www.ec.undp.org.