The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) launched today a Platform for cluster and other territorial productive articulation initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean, which seeks to give visibility to, enhance reciprocal cooperation between and strengthen the multiple productive articulation initiatives that are underway in the region, in addition to increasing their numbers and their contribution to Latin American and Caribbean countries’ productive development.
The presentation was made during a virtual event that featured opening remarks by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, and by Ulrich Höcker, Director of the Economic and Social Development and Employment Division at Germany’s GIZ, the institution that supported the Platform’s development.
“We have the strong conviction, and strongly recommend to countries, that in order to achieve a more productive, inclusive and sustainable development pattern, it is urgently necessary to escalate productive development policies. This goes to the heart of development models in the region, and is essential for their transformation,” stated ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.
Ulrich Höcker emphasized the long and fruitful strategic partnership that unites BMZ-GIZ and ECLAC, and he described the Platform’s launch as “another excellent example of our joint endeavors to strengthen and nurture regional forums for technical exchange and mutual learning.” He praised this particular initiative for “its strategic and technical aspects, since it not only addresses the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’ for supporting the vision of a more productive, inclusive and sustainable future.”
In this first stage, the Platform includes an interactive map, which features 258 cluster and other territorial productive articulation initiatives from the region that have been georeferenced and characterized, corresponding to more than 40,000 businesses in 8 countries. The Platform also provides access to publications, events and relevant news. Other actions will be taken later, such as the establishment of a community of practice and the development of joint projects.
José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs underscored that “within productive development policies lies the toolbox for orienting growth in certain directions and towards higher and more sustained rates, which is to say, for guiding economic transformation processes towards more inclusive and sustainable development patterns. Cluster and other territorial productive articulation initiatives are an essential component of that toolbox.”
“It is no longer about believing in the magic of the market, or in the magic of the State, but instead in the magic of collaborative processes for productive development. But these processes must be designed well. The approach of cluster and productive articulation initiatives, and their governance principles, are a powerful tool on how to do it,” ECLAC’s Executive Secretary stressed.
Cluster initiatives provide governance, management, direction and problem-solving for the value chains under the productive agglomeration where that governance is non-existent or weak, he explained.
The major structural transformations that Latin America and the Caribbean needs in order to overcome the low-growth disease, or trap, in which it finds itself entail new investments, new technologies, new technological ecosystems, new businesses or the growth of those already in existence, new qualifications in the workforce, and new infrastructures, Salazar-Xirinachs specified.
“If we were making the investments and economic transformations needed to close our historical legacy of poverty and informality gaps between urban and rural areas, between men and women and between the workforce’s educational levels – to name a few – we would be growing at rates of at least 3%, 4% or 5%,” he asserted.
Although the investment climate and other macroeconomic aspects are important for growth, the senior United Nations official said that it is vital to work on microeconomics, focusing production efforts on specific sectors through collaborative efforts by the key stakeholders in each sector, including public and private actors, academia and vocational training centers, and civil society.
“We at ECLAC have proposed a series of sectors that can drive or invigorate a productive and technological transformation, which include: the energy transition, electromobility, the circular economy, sustainable tourism, bio-industrialization, the pharmaceutical and life-sciences industry, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, Internet-enabled modern services, the care society and others,” José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs explained.
The Platform’s specific goals are to foster the exchange of experiences and good practices; facilitate training programs; promote gatherings, projects and actions among initiatives from different areas, countries or regions; undertake research on issues of shared interest; develop work methodologies and tools; and encourage regional productive integration, among others.
During the event, prominent specialists analyzed the Platform’s potential for moving towards the construction of a regional agenda of cluster and other territorial productive articulation initiatives. They were Alberto Pezzi, Senior Manager of Clusters at ACCIÓ – Agency for Business Competitiveness in Catalonia, Spain; Patricia Valdenebro, CEO of TCI Network; Gonzalo Rivas, Head of the Competitiveness, Technology and Innovation Division at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Rebeca Vidal, Senior Executive of the Technical and Sectoral Analysis Division of the Vice Presidency of the Private Sector at the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean; Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean; Maryse Roberts, Director of the Department of Economic Development of the Organization of American States (OAS); and Annalisa Primi, Head of the Economic Transformation and Development Division of the OECD Development Centre. Serving as moderator was Marco Llinás, Director of ECLAC’s Production, Productivity and Management Division.
These specialists pointed to the Platform’s launch as a contribution to the process of green industrialization and productive transformation of Latin America and the Caribbean. They stressed that this is a useful tool, centered on territories, that can help clusters and other productive articulation initiatives in the region to move from assessment to action, to take advantage of good national, regional and international practices, and to develop a regional agenda in this area. All the institutions participating on the panel offered their collaboration to consolidate and enhance the Platform’s actions.
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