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Regional Response & Economic Recovery: Americas

Strategic Dialogue



  • Francis Suarez opened the discussion of Latin America’s pandemic recovery with a proposal for increased “infrastructure, innovation, and investment in people.” His own city of Miami serves as a hub for Latin American progress, optimizing the free international trade of goods and services, building climate-adaptive infrastructure, promoting immigration and workforce development, and preventing human trafficking. Though he lauded his city’s position in Latin American affairs, he advocated for tantamount commitment to Latin American development from the U.S. federal government. Lastly, he touched on the Miami Forever Bond, the fiscal foundation for Miami’s climate-resilience efforts and combat of sea-level rise and flooding.
  • Juan Carlos Pinzón noted that after Europe, Latin America is the region with the highest coronavirus contagion rate. It is also the region with the lowest projected coronavirus recovery rate in 2021. The poverty, unemployment, and wealth inequality that pervades Latin American countries, due to populist political turmoil, has only been magnified by the pandemic. He mentioned the lack of technological resources in Latin American homes, which has inhibited remote work and education this year and caused a gridlock in productivity and human capital development.
  • According to Alicia Bárcena, severe structural challenges existent prior to the pandemic had resulted in low productivity, fiscal restriction, and high indebtedness. Bárcena plotted a panorama of pressing economic measures to be instituted for the recovery of pandemic-stricken Latin America—formal job creation, export augmentation, increased flow of global foreign direct investment, unemployment assistance, debt relief, and funding for employee and student digital connectivity.

“Coming back to the status quo is not viable. We need to move in a different direction in terms of the development process, and that requires industrial policies to increase productivity and have high-quality jobs,” Alicia Bárcena

  • Rosalía Arteaga Serrano discussed the exclusion of Ecuador’s low-income families from online schooling, and the pressures that mothers face in achieving a domestic and work life balance during the pandemic. She emphasized the connection of public health and education issues, and the responsibility of local authorities to create comprehensive health and education solutions specific to their communities. She also stressed the need to prioritize mental health initiatives in schools.
  • David Smolanksy discussed the United Nations’ recent implication of Venezuelan government authorities in “crimes against humanity,” and the country’s social and economic collapse under the Maduro regime. He cited hunger, violence, human rights violations, and a lack of medical resources, electricity, and water as reasons for the mass emigration of 5.1 million Venezuelans. This emigration represents the largest refugee crisis in Latin American history and has debilitated Venezuela’s labor force. In response, Smolansky proposed concerted private sector efforts to integrate Venezuelan workers in the global labor market.
  • Luc Lapointe examined the “knowledge gap” and misunderstandings about impact investing and sustainable finance in Latin America as contributors to the current scope of challenge as it pertains to development and economic resilience. He claimed that the intricate mechanisms of sustainable finance must be more prevalent in Latin American university and business school curricula and research agendas, and that incoming funds must be designated to specific causes for effective usage.
  • Richard Mayfield noted the adversities that informal workers face during a pandemic, and how post-pandemic private sector growth must be accompanied by coordinated employment accessions. He affirmed the power of international partnerships—across the value chain, with small businesses, and between governments and corporations—in re-invigorating Latin American workforces. He also suggested re-structuring federal tax systems to support the growth of small businesses.

“Our message to governments in the region is that we want to be partners with them in helping formalize the economy, create inclusive growth, and help young people and women to get onto the employment ladder,” Richard Mayfield

Key takeaways & next steps:

    • Direct investments, SDG bonds, and concessional payments must be allotted to Latin American countries facing persistent poverty, low access to capital markets, and pandemic-induced economic downturn.
    • Economic revitalization must be spurred at the local level through the following: community-based investments in skills training, mentorship, licensing and certification initiatives; equipment grants for smaller design and construction firms; business and construction incubators; community benefit agreements across hiring networks; and, affordable housing expansion.
    • The 2020 Concordia Americas Summit, to be held digitally December 3, will further a conversation.


Session Speakers