Panama City, September 13, 2018 – Two vice-presidents and nearly 40 ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean committed to take concrete measures to reduce the structural inequalities that continue to prevent many from participating in societies in a meaningful way. Authorities from 20 countries agreed on the «Declaration of Panama» at the end of the X Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean Partnerships for the reduction of structural inequalities within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 12-13 September, organized by the Government of Panama with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

In the Declaration, regional authorities agreed to: i. Expand universal social protection systems; ii. Act and pay special attention to indigenous peoples and populations of African descent by taking on the challenge of “leaving no one behind”, iii. Expand alliances with the private sector and look for innovative solutions to accelerate the 2030 Agenda in the region. They also agreed to advance in the Regional Agenda for Inclusive Social Development, agreed at the Conference on Social Development.

Eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequality – As countries advance in the development of public policies, extreme poverty becomes more difficult to address. In the region there are still 186 million people living below the poverty line and 61 million in extreme poverty. The region shows that it is not possible to eradicate poverty without deepening public policies aimed at reducing inequality in its different manifestations, with policies that are universal and at the same time sensitive to differences, aiming to guarantee rights for all.

To eradicate poverty in all its forms by the year 2030, as indicated in the SDGs, top officials gathered in Panama committed themselves to recognize rights, carry out anti-discriminatory policies, including affirmative action measures for indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants of the region to tackle poverty and inequality by addressing the deeper causes of social exclusion, such as racism and discrimination. This also implies empowering girls and women and promoting improvements in education and reduction of violence against young people.

They also assumed the commitment to generate better statistical data and administrative record systems, with more information gathering in population censuses with disaggregated variables such as sex, age, race, ethnic origin, migratory status, disability, geographic location and others. The commitment also refers to the strengthening of the institutional framework of social policies, with broad agreements, national, regional and international legal frameworks and organizational models in accordance with the challenges, accompanied by public policies and programs to combat racism, xenophobia and forms of intolerance, particularly in relation to women, girls and young people.

«The experiences shared among the participating countries in the X Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean enable the achievement of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda,» said the Minister of Social Development of the Republic of Panama Alcibíades Vásquez Velásques.

UNDP’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Luis Felipe López-Calvahighlighted that «this is a middle income region, but it has not been able to consolidate a middle class society. The way to achieve more just and cohesive societies is through improvements in inclusion, productivity and resilience, with effective governance.»

The Director of the Social Development Division of ECLAC Laís Abramo said that «the countries reaffirmed their willingness, through public policies and a broad alliance with civil society and the private sector, to address structural inequalities and the culture of privilege, which constitute an obstacle to sustainable development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda «.

The delegation of Mexico, pending approval by the new authorities taking office on December 1, offered to host the Third Meeting of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean and the XI Ministerial Forum for the Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, to be carried out during the year 2019.

• To download the Declaration of Panama, the full agenda and discussion documents:

• To see the complete recording of the X Ministerial Forum: