The seminar was opened by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet; the ECLAC Assistant Executive Secretary for Programme Administration and Analysis Raúl García-Buchaca; the Representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Office in Chile, Hai Kyung Jun; and the President of América Solidaria, Benito Baranda. Also present was the Minister of Social Development of Chile, Marco Barraza.
Prior to the opening, a message was transmitted from Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of ECLAC who, due to important commitments, could not physically participate in the meeting.
The Subsecretary of Social Evaluation of Chile, Heidi Berner, participated in the closing ceremony as well as the Director of ECLAC's Social Development Division, Laís Abramo.
The seminar was part of the Concausa initiative organized by América Solidaria, ECLAC, and UNICEF, in collaboration with the Caserta Foundation and the sponsorship of the Pedro de Valdivia Pre-University School, and seeks to identify and promote projects that look to end child poverty in the region and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In her speech, President Michelle Bachelet said that in Latin American countries and the Caribbean "we continue to carry the pain of not having ended poverty, inequality and discrimination. We also carry the burden of seeing the impact of our past decisions on the environment and on the progress of our territories," she said.
In front of the 54 young people attending the meeting, the President called for "actions to be multiplied so that more and more people will be mobilized for a common future: sustainable development, development that leaves no one behind, development that respects the wealth and fragility of our planet.
The ECLAC Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, in a recorded message, said the region had shown concrete progress in reducing child poverty over the past decade. However, there are still 41% of children living in poverty in the region and of these, 16.7% live in extreme poverty.
The senior UN official added that, with the implementation of the SDGs already underway, "participation and ownership of the 2030 Agenda by you young people is a means and an end in itself. Indeed, the voices, actions and solutions of young people, as well as their reach and willingness to influence decision-making, are essential to achieving long-term sustainable development.
Raúl García-Buchacaemphasized that, as ECLAC has stated in the documents presented at its recent meetings, inequality is a concept that transcends access to and distribution of income and includes the opportunities available to individuals and the full enjoyment of their rights.
"Our region, and the world as a whole, will only move forward when the rights and inclusion of all its members are guaranteed," he asserted.
Hai Kyung Jun stressed that "young people represent more than a quarter of the world's population and therefore have immense potential to benefit their societies socially, politically and economically."
"They will tell us how they have worked to end child poverty in their environment and also how, from their experiences, they are owning the 2030 Agenda. From UNICEF, I can tell you that we still have a long way to go in the defence of children's rights, and in achieving real and lasting changes in the lives of children and adolescents in our region. Our goal is to ensure that everyone has the right to survive, prosper and achieve their full potential in their environment," he said.
Benito Baranda for his part, noted that "in this second version of the Concausa, we have witnessed the strength, conviction and humanity of these young scholars who have come from all corners of the Americas to dream and work towards a continent different from what we have created.
He added that "they have brought their realities, their wealth, their needs and their efforts to modify those realities, and that is why we call on them to dialogue, not to compete for the best social project, but to build a better place for everyone together."
In the second edition of Concausa, 341 projects by 15 to 17 year old adolescents from 11 countries participated. From all participants, the Concausa jury selected 18 projects.These were designed and conducted by young people from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
The 54 young people from the selected teams were given the opportunity to travel to Santiago de Chile to participate in a week of training activities that allowed them to learn in depth about the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The week began on Saturday 25th of November with the Concausa Festival in which 20 social organizations linked to sustainable development and the fight against child poverty participated and ended today with this seminar at ECLAC.