MEXICO CITY – Latin American countries managed to reduce poverty levels between 2002 and 2012, however, 200 million people continue to remain vulnerable, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark.
“There can be no doubt that Latin America has made impressive progress on reducing poverty over the past decade,” Clark said Thursday at the inauguration of the 7th Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, addressing representatives from 32 countries.
She said that Latin America reduced the number of people living on fewer than $4 a day from 42 percent to 25 percent in the given period, while the number of people in the middle class increased from 21 to 34 percent.
However, despite these successes she warned that currently 37 percent of the region’s population, which is about 200 million people, were classified as vulnerable or at risk of falling into poverty.
Clark stressed that the countries in the region needed to adopt progressive fiscal policies favoring those with lower incomes and reducing the impact of indirect taxes on the poor.
“Poverty has many dimensions – impacting on not only income levels, but also on health status and access to education, overall living conditions, the acquisition of basic assets, participation, and human security,” she said.
At the inauguration, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade said that the topics discussed at the forum would be of great value for the formulation of the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda.
Meade admitted that inequality persisted despite the reduction in poverty in the region, adding that many people receive very little and that too much is owned by too few people.
In this regard, he said that governments should work to prevent the concentration of wealth, and that inequality could not be solved by the market alone, but through adequate and appropriate government policies.
Spain’s Secretary General for International Development and Cooperation, Gonzalo Robles, stated that strengthening ties with Latin America was a priority for his country.
Robles said that calculating poverty using just income as an indicator was a failure.
Using only economic indicators, there are 1.2 billion poor people in the world, however when other indicators like health, education and quality of life are taken into account, the number rises to 1.5 billion, he explained.
Mexico’s Secretary of Social Development, Rosario Robles, said that Latin America was not the poorest region in the world, but the one with most inequality.
She added that greater efforts were required to achieve social equality, close the gap of social inequality and eradicate hunger.
She claimed that the measures taken by the Mexican government in this regard do not only seek to overcome immediate problems, but also break the cycle of poverty.
The forum is attended by ministers and representatives from all the Latin American and Caribbean nations who shared their experiences in fighting poverty and achieving greater social inclusion.