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On November 15th and 16th, the Inter-American Dialogue co-hosted the Regional Forum for an Agenda on Early Childhood Development. This event brought together members of the public and private sectors, civil society, and academia from more than 11 countries and 40 organizations to share their experiences and define commitments for early childhood development.
In attendance at the Forum were Colombian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Juan Manuel Santos, and the First Lady, María Clemencia Rodríguez, who discussed the successes and challenges of the national early childhood policy “De Cero a Siempre.” Among the program’s accomplishments are the constructions of new Childhood Development Centers across the country, a reduction in the malnutrition rate in children under six-years-old, and an increase in vaccination rates across the population.
The event was also attended by the Executive President of CAF, the Vice President of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Director of the Social Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Brazilian Minister of Social Development, the Ecuadorian Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion, the Cuban Vice Minister of Education, and the president of the Inter-American Dialogue.
The Forum culminated in the presentation and signing of the Regional Agenda on Early Childhood Development, created to guide countries’ efforts to strengthen early childhood policies. The Agenda serves as a tool to promote the political sustainability of institutional reforms related to early childhood and strengthen cross-country collaboration in these reform processes. The Agenda has 22 signatories, including people from the public and private sectors, multilateral entities, and academic institutions.
The signatories of the Agenda agreed to prioritize their efforts in four issue areas:
- Inter-sectoral collaboration, interjurisdictionality, and financing
- Quality of childhood development services
- Measurement of childhood development
- Collaboration and alliances
The agreements emerged from discussions that took place on the first day of the Forum, in which almost 40 people from various sectors participated in thematic workshops aligned with the Agenda issue areas. More broadly speaking, the Agenda is the product of more than two years of dialogue by a group of actors from different sectors who are all committed to early childhood development. The group, convened by the Inter-American Dialogue, met in Sao Paolo in 2015, Lima in 2016 and Washington D.C. in 2017. The hope is that the Regional Agenda on Early Childhood will continue guiding the work of countries to benefit the holistic and complete development of young children.
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