Improving Lives One Partnership at a Time

As we begin gearing up for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group’s upcoming Annual Meeting in Chengdu, we can’t help but reflect on the conclusions of the 2018 gathering in Mendoza, Argentina, where one message was resoundingly clear: to advance development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), we must work in greater coordination than ever before. Specifically, IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno emphasized the need for a substantial boost in infrastructure investments and productivity, two areas in which the IDB must draw from partner support to help the region reach necessary investment levels.

Fortunately, the Bank has been building up its partnership network for a decade this year, working through the Office of Outreach and Partnerships (ORP) since it was created in 2008 to engage governments, foundations, companies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and others to enrich its development efforts. A report summarizing highlights of the Office’s tenth year in operation reveals just how much the IDB is investing in strengthening the institutional partnerships needed to foster the region’s continued growth, and how external organizations may benefit from the many opportunities to partner with the IDB that remain untapped. Some of the examples in the report are summarized next.

While we marveled at the first iPhones merely 10 years ago, we are now surrounded by never-before-seen, innovative technology and waiting for the next invention. To continue working with government agencies, youth, and companies to quickly adopt new technologies such as cloud computing and “Internet of Things,” the Bank partnered with Microsoft last year to foster digital transformations in LAC. Specifically, the two partners aim to empower public institutions to provide improved efficiency, reduce costs, and develop greater dynamism and new capacities in the economy.

To ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits all sectors of society, the IDB and the World Economic Forum have pledged to pilot policy and regulatory frameworks to help the region better harness technology. This way, the Bank continues to mitigate the risk that some might miss the opportunities or at least the benefits that adopting the fast-changing technology can yield.

As a public-private partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Fundación Carlos Slim, the Government of Spain and others, in 2010 the IDB founded the Salud Mesoamerica Initiative, which uses results-based financing mechanism to reduce inequalities in maternal and child health across Mesoamerica. The results are eye-opening:

  • Coverage of measles, mumps and rubella improved in El Salvador by 39 percent.
  • Early prenatal care increased by 31 percent in Nicaragua.
  • Early postpartum care increased in Belize by 81 percent.

To date, the initiative has directly benefitted 1.8 million women of reproductive age and children aged less than five years, while indirectly benefitting an additional 4.5 million people.

Another interesting collaboration was launched with Airbnb, an online marketplace that allows people to rent their properties or spared bedrooms, to start a joint effort to study the impact of home sharing on local communities. This year, IDB and Airbnb have begun to promote sustainable tourism, foster a digital economy in the region, and explore applications of the shared economy that can improve lives.

Danone, a French multinational food-product company, is another partner of IDB. A three-year strategic partnership was created to develop inclusive initiatives and pledged to co-finance more than $6 million in grants over the next few years. As a result, more than 2,000 underprivileged women in Brazil received training and professional empowerment, while working conditions for over 3700 grassroots recyclers in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico have improved tremendously.

These and many more, are examples of some of the collaborations we are pleased to mention in this 10-year journey of partnerships for development. It has been said before, and we reaffirm that no one organization has all the access, resources or knowledge to address the many challenges still pending in development, but together, we are all much more effective and our reach is much greater.

To read all about the IDB´s partnerships, please download the Partnership Report.