The Inter-American Development Bank kicked off its 60th anniversary celebrations with a Business Summit in Washington on the transformational innovations taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region’s insertion into the digital economy, and the challenges of building sustainable infrastructure.
The Summit is the first of a series of events over three days to discuss future trends that will impact the region and how the IDB can continue to support its development. The anniversary activities feature the participation of government and business leaders, top development experts, and performances by artists from Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Over the past six decades, we have evolved to help Latin America and the Caribbean develop in the face of profound changes,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Today ‘development’ means building key infrastructure and modernizing public services, but also leveraging research, forging private partnerships, and incubating innovation to spur growth.”
“We are about to enter a new era,” Moreno added. “People, institutions and ecosystems continue to change, and the fourth industrial revolution is unleashing a new wave of disruption. We are proud to have accompanied this transformation and we will help make the region more inclusive, integrated and sustainable.”
The Business Summit gathered 600 leaders and representatives from the private and public sectors and academia. The event focused on integration, innovation and infrastructure.
On integration, according to IDB research, Latin America and the Caribbean could add an additional $11 billion in annual trade flows if it combined a patchwork of 33 trade treaties into a single trade bloc. Participants discussed how countries could continue to deepen their economic integration and seize new opportunities that arise in a changing world by developing critical physical infrastructure, implementing trade policies and procedures, and adopting regulations that facilitate the efficient movement of goods and services.
As the region seeks to continue increasing its global competitiveness and impact, creating an enabling business ecosystem that fosters innovation is key in a region that invests 0.7 percent of its GDP in R&D on average compared to 1.7 percent globally. The panel discussed how the private sector, public sector and academia can collaborate to improve access to training and education and generate an ecosystem that will drive Latin American innovators for generations to come.
One of the region’s most significant development bottlenecks is infrastructure. To close that gap, Latin America and the Caribbean needs to spend an additional US$150 billion per year over the next three decades to improve everything from telecommunications networks to ports. Governments alone cannot secure these funding levels. The panel discussed how private sector participation in infrastructure development could be promoted to ensure enough financing is available, as well as ways in which the region can responsibly and sustainably extract its natural resources, opportunities to continue diversifying the energy matrix, and how government and the private sector can work together to ensure transparency throughout.
The Americas Business Dialogue (ABD), a private sector driven initiative for the social and economic development of the region, will also hold a session on the side of the anniversary events, to review the recommendations provided by business leaders to the recent Summit of the Americas gathering in Lima in April of hemispheric heads of state.
The ABD, which is comprised of more than 300 business leaders and groups throughout the region, is facilitated by the IDB to look for ways the public and private to work together on key priorities to spur growth, including infrastructure financing and transparency, among others.
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.