IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno praised Europe’s integration model and called for stronger cooperation between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Moreno was among the keynote speakers at the forum The European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) and the Challenges of Globalization being held today in Paris with the sponsorship of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute of the Americas.
Other keynote speakers included IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn; Rama Yade, French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights; and Jean Michel-Blanquer, President of the Institute of the Americas. The forum featured panels on social cohesion, the food crisis and the fight against climate change.
"Europe has a model and concrete lessons learned to offer the world about the virtues of integration and the cooperation across borders," said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. "That is why our commitment to strengthen the association between our two continents is so valuable."
Moreno's comments come as both continents are grappling to understand the full extent of the impact that the U.S. financial crisis will have on their economies.
In the past two weeks, at least four European banks have either gone bankrupt, been bailed or bought out, with the latest victim being Fortis bank, Belgium's largest employer.
Moreno said it was still difficult to predict whether the current financial stability will have a lasting effect on Latin America, since we are still on the eye of the storm.
He added that the deepest and most complex problems of our days—be it global warming, the food crisis or water scarcity—require multilateral solutions, and therefore the importance of integration and cooperation among countries.
He said the Bank had a key role to play in mitigating the effects of the financial crisis on the economies in Latin America and the Caribbean and reduce to a minimum the damage that the current economic turmoil can have on the region's long-term growth and development.
He described some of the IDB initiatives aimed at seeking a multilateral response to some of the region’s problems, such as the IDB’s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative, the Water and Sanitation Initiative and the Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative (SECCI).
"My main concern at the moment is that the recent financial turbulence will weaken our commitment for greater integration and economic innovation," said Moreno. "Fear often leads to barriers being raised. The current situation, however, requires greater not less integration."
Moreno concluded by quoting the late French author Víctor Hugo who once claimed that the greatest dangers in life had the virtue of bringing to light the fraternity among men.
"Let's embrace this fraternity as we move forward," he said.
IDB signs agreements with UNESCO and the French Development Agency
In the context of today’s forum, the IDB signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs):
The Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UNESCO to cooperate in education, natural and social sciences, culture and communication in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The IDB and the French Development Agency (AFD, for its acronym in French) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate in global public goods protection, the struggle against climate change, sustainable development and the struggle against poverty.