The UN's Agenda 2030 reflects aspirations for a better world for all. Photo: Endrys Correa Vaillant Photo: Endrys Correa Vaillant

Cuba is hosting the 37th period of sessions of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); the organization’s most important biennial meeting, May 7-11 in Havana.

The designation of Cuba as the host was agreed upon by member countries at the conclusion of the last period of sessions, held in May of 2016, in Mexico City.

These inter-governmental meetings are key to orienting the United Nations commission's work, and offer a forum for discussion of major issues related to economic and social development in countries of the region.

ECLAC will present a report on its activities to the 46 member nations, and invite reflection on progress made in implementing strategies related to the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.

"It is very important for our country to host the ECLAC period of sessions, as a great opportunity to advance analysis of the big issues related to the region's development in this collective forum," said Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca, after signing the agreement confirming Cuba's commitment to host the event.

Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary, explained that discussion and planning will focus on the importance of equality in the region, which remains the world's most unequal, and will continue work on the course outlined in previous sessions held in Brasilia in 2010; San Salvador in 2012; Lima in 2014; and Mexico City in 2016.

"We maintain equality at the center of our proposals and emphasize the importance of ending the culture of privilege as the central prerequisite to advancing toward sustainable development," Bárcena insisted.


The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is celebrating its 70th anniversary with 59 member countries from around the world, whose representatives traveled to Cuba for the event.

The regional organization's important biennial meeting in Havana features an agenda of activities which included the anniversary commemoration and several panel discussions.

Cuba was selected to assume the rotating pro-tempore presidency of the group, for this term, in 2016, in Mexico, and another nation will be chosen to take on the responsibility for the period 2018-2020 during this year's meeting.

"This is the second time our country has assumed the presidency of ECLAC and the first during the revolutionary era," noted William Díaz Menéndez, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment's director for International Economic Bodies, during a press conference.

Among topics being addressed in panel discussions are Cuba and ECLAC; the United Nations South-South Cooperation Committee; civil society's contribution to meeting the 2030 sustainable Development Objectives; and foreign investment.

Meanwhile, other meetings will focus on the document "The inefficiency of inequality," presented by the organization's executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena.

Attending the meeting in Havana are researchers and academics, functionaries of almost 30 inter-governmental bodies associated with the United Nations system, and representatives from different civil society organizations.