Latinoamerica 2030

The future of Latin America will be directly affected by its responses to changing global trends today. This is the subject of the Millennium Project’s report Latinoamerica 2030, which aims to give Latin American policymakers a forward-looking view of different options to address global trends, two centuries after the region’s countries achieved independence. A discussion of the new report was held at the Dialogue on April 5, 2013.

Thinking about the future is a way to structure the complexity of a rapidly changing world, said Sergio Bitar, former Chilean senator and minister and head of the Dialogue’s Global Trends Initiative. But despite the importance of looking to the future, there are very few Latin America leaders who currently do this type of thinking. Jerome Glenn, executive director of the Millennium Project, cited the need for this type of reasoning to take place: “thinking about things globally can aid in creating more comprehensive and progressive strategies in all governments.”

The report covers four different possible scenarios for the future of Latin America. The best scenario for Latin America involves an efficient use of technology, described Jose Cordeiro, principal author of the report. But Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Dialogue, emphasized that it is not just technology, but making the right decisions about technology that counts. Countries like Brazil and Mexico, which have been using technology effectively, have arguably been advancing at a faster rate than other Latin American countries that are not. Examples of good policies that consider the future and seek to use technology in an innovative way include bringing more technology into the classroom, encouraging universities to produce more engineers and foster innovation, or investing in technology to increase food and oil production.

The report is particularly timely because the world is growing and developing at unprecedented rates. There is a convergence of growth occurring across Latin America, although Hakim was skeptical that this growth would necessarily lead to a win-win situation for all nations. Rapid economic expansion can cause gaps, he said, which will then need to be filled, and we do not know if governments will be able to rise to this challenge. But Bitar mentioned that these gaps can be predicted by looking at the future, which gives governments more leverage to make appropriate changes. An example is food; if we can predict a growing middle class that will be consuming more, then nations must plan to have food for this population today. Thus, strategic policy and decision making must be part of the dialogue when considering the Latin America of 2030.

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