The Dialogue brings together leading citizens from throughout the hemisphere who incorporate a diversity of political and professional perspectives, yet share a commitment to democratic rule, social equity, and economic cooperation in the Americas. Our mission is to convene these leaders to help build productive ties among Western Hemisphere nations.
Dialogue Initiatives Selected as Finalists for Prospect Think Tank Awards
The Dialogue is pleased to announce that two of its initiatives were shortlisted for the Prospect 2020 Think Tank Awards in the categories “Climate Change & Environment” and “Medicine, Science & Technology.”
We would like to thank Prospect Magazine and the judges for their recognition and congratulate the winners of the 2020 awards.
THE CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIRONMENT AWARD
Preventing the Amazon Tipping Point
As the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, the Amazon plays a critical role as a storehouse of carbon and mediator of the global water cycle. It also holds a greater share of the world’s known biodiversity than any other ecosystem.
Increasing rates of deforestation put the future of this region at risk. A lack of oversight – often due to inadequate resources for environmental regulation – is a pervasive challenge in Amazonian countries, and signs suggest this problem is only growing.
Photo Credit: Erick Caldas Xavier / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0
In light of this crisis, the Inter-American Dialogue’s Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program published the report “Nearing the Tipping Point: Drivers of Deforestation in the Amazon Region,” analyzing the main causes of deforestation in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
The report presented five policy recommendations to tackle Amazon deforestation:
- The promotion of sustainable agriculture and ranching;
- The design of transparent, sustainable infrastructure programs;
- An increase of forest protection monitoring and enforcement;
- The expansion of protected areas;
- And the strengthening of reforestation programs.
To further disseminate these key takeaways, our Energy team published an op-ed in the New York Times titled “How to Save the Amazon Rain Forest” and an article for Foreign Policy titled “Do the Amazon Fires Point the Way for Future International Efforts to Combat Climate Change?” The articles argued that the situation in the Amazon exposes the very heart of the greatest collective action problem that humanity has faced and urge governments in the region to muster the political will to institute policies to protect the Amazon.
Countries in the Amazon Basin are falling behind on their targets to cut deforestation. Environmental enforcement combined with economic incentives could provide a way forward.
How to Save the Amazon Rain Forest
New York Times
THE MEDICINE, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY AWARD
Building an Ecosystem for Education Innovation
Latin America is facing an education crisis. More children and young adults are attending school, but an alarming number of them drop out early or graduate with low learning levels.
This crisis is largely due to the lack of innovation in schools and school systems. Latin America is desperately lacking a vision for educational innovation, one that takes advantage of the region’s increased connectivity and access to the internet, as well as new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, and virtual reality.
Photo Credit: Manu Dias/AGECOM / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The Inter-American Dialogue’s Education Program established a Working Group on Innovation and Technology in Education with a mission to generate and promote a vision for educational innovation in Latin America and contribute to creating an ecosystem in which actors from the public and private sectors collaborate effectively to generate and scale up new technologies and innovations in education.
The Working Group’s specific objectives are:
- Generate ideas on how Latin American countries can utilize technologies to revamp teaching methods and improve educational management;
- Facilitate knowledge-sharing among different countries and actors in the region;
- Improve policies pertaining to educational innovation through strategic interactions with key actors in the region’s public education systems;
- Promote collaboration among private-sector stakeholders, researchers, public-sector specialists, international cooperation agencies and others on matters of educational innovation.
The Working Group is unique in its approach in that it brings together actors from the public and private sectors along with experts from academia and multilateral institutions. It has published a series of reports and blog posts on subjects such as the role of technology in educational management and the need for an innovation ecosystem for EdTech. The group has laid out an ambitious agenda for the next few years focused on transforming student learning, supporting teacher quality, and increasing efficient management through the strategic and effective use of education technologies and innovative practices.
The need to explore radical and sustainable methods to innovate how education systems operate and children learn is urgent, and can be addressed by harnessing the transformative potential of information and communication technologies.
Transforming Learning Through the Use of Educational Technology: Challenges and Opportunities
Announcing New Projects
The Inter-American Dialogue is excited to announce the undertaking of three new projects. At a time of difficult and shared challenges, these initiatives will help foster democratic governance, prosperity, and social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean, the pillars of our mission.
- Energy & Extractives Projects in the Amazon Basin
- China’s Lending in a post-Covid-19 Environment
- Covid-19 & Education Challenges in Latin America
Energy & Extractives Projects in the Amazon Basin
Hundreds of energy and extractive projects are in operation throughout the Amazon basin. Enforcing strong environmental standards is critical to mitigating detrimental environmental impacts from these projects and protecting the world’s most biodiverse forest.
A wide range of companies own and operate projects in the Amazon basin, with complex financing structures and assets often transferred through mergers and acquisitions, making it difficult to pinpoint the entities responsible for enforcing regulations. Various studies have mapped hydropower, oil, and mining operations, but a complete picture of the money behind these has been lacking.
To understand the entities that own, operate, and finance hydroelectric, oil, and mining projects in the Amazon, the Dialogue’s Energy, Climate Change and Extractive Industries Program, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, created an interactive database of energy and extractive projects in the Amazon and published a report analyzing trends and drawing conclusions about the current ownership and financing landscape.
Photo Credit: quapan / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
China’s Lending in a post-Covid-19 Environment
Accurate and comprehensive data on China’s lending to Latin America is critical for the region’s government officials, policymakers, civil society representatives, journalists, and other stakeholders responsible for making and shaping Chinese financial engagement with the region.
Without accurate information about the fundamentals of Chinese overseas finance, those responsible for making or monitoring financial activity in the Latin American region risk operating with outdated information or based on inaccurate assumptions.
To improve understanding of the nature and breadth of Chinese finance in Latin America, the Dialogue’s Asia & Latin America Program, with the support of the Ford Foundation, will continue to produce key data on Chinese loans from the region, including an expanded version of the China-Latin America Finance Database with information on both policy bank and commercial bank lending in Latin America. This information will be disseminated through a range of high-level events featuring regional policy-makers and representatives from international institutions dedicated to the study of Chinese development finance.
Covid-19 & Education Challenges in Latin America
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of human life across the globe. One of the most impacted sectors, without a doubt, has been education.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, systemic weaknesses, such as lack of internet connectivity or access to internet-enabled devices and the inadequate preparation of teachers, makes it extremely hard for many families to provide normal learning to their children. Many children will experience significant learning delays with long-term implications for their academic performance, and many others may simply not return to school. There are two areas of particular concern: early grade reading and math, and socio-emotional skills, particularly for youth.
To tackle this challenge, the Dialogue’s Education Program, with the support of the Tinker Foundation, will establish a platform for civil society organizations that work on education in vulnerable environments to exchange ideas and work collaboratively on responses for the Covid-19 recovery phase. We will convene a working group to identify key concerns to be addressed when schools reopen and guidelines for advocacy to pursue strong responses and adequate funding from donor organizations. The group will develop a document with lessons learned and a long-term strategy for an advocacy agenda.
How We Make a Difference
- Furthering Early Childhood Development
- Promoting Financial Inclusion
- Interpreting Key Developments in China-Latin America Relations
- Fighting Corruption Through Democratic Governance
- Advancing Clean and Secure Energy
- Shaping US-LAC Foreign Policy Agenda
- Engaging New Stakeholders in Regional Development
We are grateful to our funders for supporting these and many other initiatives.
If you would like to support the Dialogue, you can learn about ways to give here.
Furthering Early Childhood Development
Although early childhood is a crucial stage for a child’s physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development, many Latin American children in this age group are facing a debilitating lack of services and living conditions. In an effort to address this gap, and in collaboration with a network of representatives from government, multilateral, and civil society organizations, the Education Program has led the development of the Regional Agenda for Early Childhood Development, a policy declaration that aims to guide countries’ efforts to strengthen their early childhood development (ECD) policies and promote regional accountability for high-quality ECD policies and programs.
Since November 2017, when the agreement was formally endorsed by a large number of countries in the region, the Dialogue has monitored and reported on countries’ progress implementing the Agenda. Now, in addition to that work, the Dialogue facilitates regional forums and policy exchange spaces to support countries in their efforts to implement the Regional Agenda in critical areas such as measurement, financing, and quality assurance.
Promoting Financial Inclusion
Through the USAID funded “Opportunities for My Community” project, the Migration, Remittances & Development Program increased financial education, assisted in providing access to credit for the knowledge economy, and led an extracurricular program in Guatemala. This program provided training to more than 150,000 people, resulting in 27 percent of these individuals formalizing their savings (totaling $7 million). Through training sessions with financial coaches, this project supported more than 228 entrepreneurs, who saw a 28 percent increase in their sales and created more than 30 jobs.
Currently, under the UNOPS-funded Cities Alliance project, we have provided 1,965 financial education sessions and are running an after-school program that benefits more than 600 students. Additionally, in collaboration with Airpak, we have provided more than 7,000 financial education sessions and formalized $365,481 savings in Nicaragua.
Interpreting Key Developments in China-Latin America Relations
Whether on infrastructure development, telecommunications investment, or tech policy coordination, the Asia & Latin America Program is the primary source of information in the United States on China’s evolving relationship with Latin America. Updated annually, our online China-Latin America Finance Database has become a critical resource for those in the US, across Latin America and even in China seeking information on Chinese financial flows to the region.
The program also plays a pivotal role in shaping policy on broader Asia-Latin America relations through roundtables and other events with top US, Latin American, and Asian government officials, as well as private sector representatives and policy-makers on issues of interest across economic sectors.
Fighting Corruption through Democratic Governance
In preparation for the 2018 Summit of the Americas, the Dialogue’s Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program was requested by the host government of Peru to develop recommendations for the Summit’s outcome document on the theme of “democratic governance against corruption.”
Over the course of several months and in close coordination with the OAS Summit Secretariat and other partners, we convened regional transparency experts from governments, judiciaries, civil society, and the private sector to develop public recommendations and technical inputs on measures to strengthen the region’s tools to combat corruption. Many of these recommendations were reflected in the Lima Commitment adopted unanimously at the Summit by all the governments of the Americas.
Advancing Clean and Secure Energy
Endowed with vast clean energy resources, Latin America and the Caribbean have an opportunity to join the vanguard of the global energy transition. Through reports, op-eds, and public discussions that have reached thousands of readers and viewers, the Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program has elevated understanding of this potential among the public and policymakers. The program has produced vital analysis on the political trends that impact renewable energy development in the region, specific policy tools such as renewable energy auctions, and the role of natural gas as a transition fuel.
Shaping US-LAC Foreign Policy Agenda
The Dialogue regularly holds private dinner discussions with its Congressional Members Working Group on Capitol Hill as well as briefings and roundtables with congressional staff. Recent exchanges organized by the Congressional Program included a closed-door dinner in February 2018 where business and civil-society leaders from El Salvador discussed Temporary Protected Status with five United States lawmakers including host Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Congressional members and staff also speak at Dialogue events, conferences, and public policy roundtables. In March 2020, the Dialogue hosted a public conference call event with Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) on Covid-19 in Latin America. Additionally, Dialogue experts are often called upon to testify in Congressional hearings and provide their analysis of hemispheric developments.
Engaging New Stakeholders in Regional Development
The Dialogue has successfully engaged the private sector in its mission, with many of the world’s most innovative and socially responsible companies now supporting its work through the Corporate Program. Experts agree that governments alone cannot solve all the problems facing their societies, such as the automation of jobs, high labor informality, slow economic growth, disillusionment with the quality of public services, and deep distrust of elites. Most also agree that private capital investors and business leaders need to play a more constructive role in Latin America’s development than they have to date.
Together with innovative companies like AT&T, BMW, ExxonMobil, McKinsey, Millicom and others, the Corporate Program and the Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor publications have linked key public officials with private-sector experts and innovators to address emerging trends in areas such as the digital economy, smart cities, inclusive growth and expanding the region’s middle class, to name a few.