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What is the Regional Public Goods Initiative?

The Initiative for the Promotion of Regional Public Goods (RPG Initiative) is based on the rationale that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) share challenges and opportunities for development that can be addressed or seized upon more effectively and efficiently at a regional level through collective action and cooperation. The Initiative is also a response to the increasing importance of South-South cooperation (SSC) in the development agenda of most LAC countries and the IDB’s commitment to be an active partner in a South-South led learning and cooperation process.

Since 2004, the RPG Initiative has financed 114 projects, investing a total of US$90 million in promoting RPGs. Here are some examples:

Social Protection

Despite years of reforms and sustained economic growth, most Latin American and Caribbean workers still have limited access to social security benefits such as health services and pensions. In order to understand why, five countries in the region (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay and Uruguay), with support from the RPG Initiative, embarked on an unprecedented and ambitious effort to collaboratively design a Longitudinal Social Protection Survey (ELPS) that would help governments gather detailed and comparable data to measure the cost-effectiveness of social security policies. The countries agreed on a shared methodology based on a common questionnaire about such issues as job quality, employment trajectory, participation in pension systems, and access to social protection. To date, Colombia, El Salvador, and Uruguay have carried out the first round of the survey, while Ecuador and Paraguay are in the implementation phase. In 2014, the five countries plus Brazil presented a proposal for a second RPG project with the objective to create a regional social protection observatory that will allow the participating countries to consolidate and share survey data, providing crucial input for the design and execution of social security policies.

Water Management

The Lempa River Basin is shared by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. With rapidly rising population levels, existing problems of pollution, lack of safe water, and an overall weak management of the hydrological resources in the area are expected to worsen. The RPG project on sustainable water management in the Upper Lempa River Basin (ULRB) in Central America’s Trifinio Region resulted in an agreement on a plan of action that reflects a shared vision and mission among public and private stakeholders at the local, regional and national level in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to preserve and protect river’s water as a regional public good. In 2011, the plan of action gave momentum to the design and implementation, by the tri-national Association of Municipalities of the Río Lempa, of a cross border public policy called “Shared Waters”. The objective of “Shared Waters” is to guarantee the joint and integrated management of the region´s hydrological resources.


The RPG project “Protocol for the Procurement and Quality Control of Pharmaceuticals” supports the countries of Central America, Belize and the Dominican Republic in negotiating and procuring certain pharmaceuticals as a group. The drugs included in the joint procurement scheme treat widespread and potentially fatal diseases, have a big economic impact, and/or are difficult to procure by each country alone. The drugs are principally dispensed in public hospitals and neighborhood clinics, benefitting the poorest segments of the population. The price negotiation and procurement of pharmaceuticals as a region has resulted in (i) lower prices and therefore savings for health ministries; (ii) a system of quality control to ensure that jointly procured drugs comply with regionally agreed standards; and (iii) new market opportunities for the countries’ pharmaceutical industry.

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