Skip to main content

State policy to reduce poverty

The Fifth Meeting of the Network for Poverty Reduction and Social Protection produced proposals to institutionalize policies to reduce poverty, identify alternatives for financing, and redouble efforts to promote social inclusion of indigenous peoples. The recent meeting, held at the Inter-American Development Bank, was attended by leading officials from countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The meeting was part of a series of events that make up the Regional Policy Dialogue, a forum to reflect and facilitate dialogue on strategies to combat social exclusion and poverty. The strategies were developed by entities associated with the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

This seminar was organized in two parts. The first part has an innovative approach identifying the key obstacles for poverty reduction policies. The second part respond to the demands of the members to analyze the social inclusion and employment programs in the region.

The meeting began with an analysis of poverty reduction strategies in each country, including prevailing institutional arrangements in such areas as social expenditure, organizational structures and the legal framework; the design and integration of global and targeted programs; and monitoring and evaluation systems. A major challenge for the network is to find strategies that better integrate and rationalize programs, promote institutional arrangements that facilitate that integration, and develop effective short- and long-term measures of results that better evaluate the overall impact of programs as opposed to the impact of individual programs.

State Policy

Participants in the meeting emphasized the fundamental importance of institutionalizing poverty reduction policies so that they are more than wishful thinking that lacks effectiveness and sustainability in practical terms. Proposals to foster such institutionalization included, first, ensuring that poverty reduction policies be government-wide as opposed to ministry initiatives, with the eventual aim of making them overall state policy. Such a transition would overcome bureaucratic partisanship, since society itself would be undertaking the commitment to implement the overall policy.

Closely related to that proposal was the suggestion to promote legislation that ensures the sustainability of social policies and that facilitates the search for alternative sources of financing. It is also necessary that this “state policy” have a budgetary shield that guarantees budgeting for social programs.

United against Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is one of the most acute problems in Latin America, precluding certain population groups from gaining access to employment opportunities, means of sustenance, health and educational services, and justice and security. Participants at the meeting emphasized that “it is not possible to combat poverty without at the same time addressing social exclusion.”

One of the population groups most affected by social exclusion is indigeneous peoples. Participants noted that the Bank has a plan of action to combat ethnic and racial social exclusion. The plan has three components: support for development projects for indigenous communities; financing for research and technical assistance; and programs for institutional strengthening. 

The participants at the meeting emphasized that policies that promote social inclusion must be based from the very start on a recognition of diversity, and on the principle that development can only be sustainable if it promotes participation by indigenous people themselves, in a context of respect and cultural identity.

A Challenge to the Imagination

Finally, participants at the meeting analyzed the fiscal challenges involved in implementing employment policies. How and with what resources can labor policy be implemented under current circumstances in the region? This poses a challenge to Latin American creativity and imagination. Many countries have started microcredit programs that target low-income groups, as well as job training and development of cooperatives. These and other measures aim to combat social exclusion, incorporate marginalized populations into the formal economy, and address the problem of economic inequality.

One of the most important conclusions of the meeting with regards to employment policies focused on the need to strengthen labor legislation. Participants recognized that in some case it is necessary to adapt regulations to the market realities in the region, as well as make investments directed toward ensuring compliance with laws and regulations.

This meeting was part of a series of events promoted by the Integration Department, through the Regional Policy Dialogue. The strategies were developed by entities associated with the IDB's Board of Executive Directors. The Poverty and Inequality Unit of the Bank has the technical responsibility of the meetings of the Network for Poverty and Social Protection.



Jump back to top