By Angel Melguizo, Vice President, Economic, External & Regulatory Affairs, VRIO Corp; Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Head, Public Affairs Intelligence, Telefónica Hispanoamérica; and Welby Leaman, Senior Director, Global Policy Strategy, Walmart
Covid-19 put in stark relief the urgent need for accelerated digitalisation around the world. The good news is that so many people stepped up to meet this challenge. In many parts of the private sector, digital rollout that business executives thought would take years was achieved in weeks or even days, as customers’ digital adoption soared. Latin America was no exception to this phenomenon: in mid-March 2020, internet traffic increased by more than 40% practically overnight. The robustness of telecommunications infrastructure in the region – built by decades of investment – and the flexibility of many Latin American governments during the pandemic, were among the factors that facilitated this transition.
By Romina Boarini, Director of the OECD WISE Centre (Centre for Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity) and Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Director of OECD Development Centre
The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has experienced considerable gains in well-being over the past two decades, according to the new report How’s Life in Latin America? Measuring Well-being for Policy Making by the OECD Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE) and the OECD Development Centre. The eleven countries studied in the report – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay – have experienced many improvements in quality of life since the early 2000s such as increased life expectancy, reduced child and maternal mortality, and better access to drinking water. The number of people in absolute poverty (i.e. those whose income is not enough to meet basic needs such as food or shelter) has declined – from 1 in 3 in 2006 to 1 in 5 by 2019 – and the share of the population with an upper secondary education has risen from 34% to 46%.
By Felipe Bosch, Editor at Le Grand Continent and Co-founder of the Groupe d’études géopolitiques’ Americas Programme
The pandemic has shed light on the unavoidable need for concrete answers to the challenges of urban informality. The “best practices” discourse tends to oversimplify policy-making processes aimed at providing such answers. While regularisation policies are mainly associated with technical prescriptions imposed from a top-down perspective by international organisations, a detailed study of them in Latin America, based on a comparative case study of Mexico and Argentina, elucidates how bottom-up solutions to development problems might arise.
La comunidad internacional no está haciendo suficientes esfuerzos para apoyar económicamente a quienes más hacen por las personas migrantes, refugiadas y desplazadas durante la pandemia global: los Gobiernos de las ciudades. Aunque numerosas Alcaldías tienen el mandato de atender a las personas en situación de vulnerabilidad, tales como migrantes y residentes desplazados, frecuentemente las ciudades no cuentan con suficientes recursos económicos para responder a las crecientes necesidades de quienes van llegando. Asimismo, los Gobiernos locales de las ciudades han dejado de percibir ingresos debido a los impactos económicos del COVID-19, lo cual este año limita aún más su capacidad de brindar servicios fundamentales a los residentes. Según algunas estimaciones, los Gobiernos de las ciudades experimentarán una pérdida de ingresos de hasta un 25 % en el 2021, precisamente cuando necesitan incurrir en un mayor gasto para impulsar la recuperación y para atender a una población que crece continuamente. En una encuesta reciente, 33 funcionarios a cargo de las finanzas municipales de 22 países de todos los continentes expresaron que ya se observa una disminución del 10 % en el ingreso total y un aumento de aproximadamente 5 % en el gasto. Este “efecto tijera” de los ingresos y gastos de los Gobiernos locales tendrá un mayor impacto en las ciudades de países en desarrollo. Las ciudades africanas, por ejemplo, podrían dejar de percibir hasta un 65 % de sus ingresos en el 2021.
Technology is changing city dwellers lives, as well as how urban centres evolve to meet their needs. The pandemic has accelerated this transformation, and the digital transition has generated an explosion of data, especially in cities. In this context, the ability of local governments to manage urban problems will be paramount for the recovery, and the pandemic has helped us better understand the missing elements we need to govern cities effectively. For instance, the World Bank’s World Development Report of 2021 underscored that a data infrastructure policy is one of the building blocks of a good data governance framework, both to foster the local data economy and promote digital inclusion.
By Adriana Mejía Hernández, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs of the Republic of Colombia
The massive exodus of Venezuelan migrants is the world’s second largest migration wave and is unprecedented in the history of Latin America. Colombia, host to almost 30% of Venezuelan migrants, responded with comprehensive measures and most importantly, has approached the mass arrivals of migrants as an opportunity for development and growth. However, the lack of identity documents and irregular status of migrants are the source of many challenges to achieving an effective state response.
Por Carlos Santiso y Marcelo Facchina – respectivamente, director y especialista líder en ciudades inteligentes de la dirección de innovación digital del estado de CAF – Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina
Las tecnologías están cambiando la vida de las personas en las ciudades y la forma en que los centros urbanos evolucionan para satisfacer sus necesidades. La pandemia aceleró esta transformación de manera disruptiva.
The international community is not doing enough to financially support those who are doing the most for migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people during this global pandemic: city governments. While many cities have the mandate to serve people in vulnerable situations, including migrant and displaced residents, they often do not have enough financial resources to meet the increased demand and need of new arrivals. Lost revenue due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 will further curtail cities’ ability to deliver critical services to their residents this year. Some estimates suggest city governments could see revenue losses of up to 25 percent in 2021, precisely when their spending needs to increase to pay for recovery efforts and continuously growing populations. In a recent survey, 33 municipal finance officials in 22 countries across all continents reported already seeing a 10 percent decrease in their overall revenue and around a five percent increase in expenditure. This “scissors effect” of local government revenue and expenditure will be most felt in cities in developing countries. African cities, for example, could potentially lose up to up to 65 percent of their revenue in 2021.
By José Antonio Sanahuja, Director, Fundación Carolina, Spain, Special Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The response to COVID-19, the ecological transition and strategic autonomy are the three driving forces of the European Union’s (EU) broad transformative programme. This programme involves deep changes in its own social and economic development model and in its relationship with the world. It is a short-term reaction to a pandemic that has fast become a systemic crisis. But it is also the EU’s long-term response to an international context of globalisation in crisis and challenges to the international order. The future of EU-Latin America relations will be deeply affected by these transformations.