Media Center

Press Release


  March 21, 2003

The Organization of American States (OAS) has proposed that National Endowments for Social Action (NESA) be established as a financial and operational strategy to implement mandates to increase grant assistance and reduce or re-channel debt into social action programs. The mandates stem from the Monterrey Summit on Development Financing, held in Mexico City last year.

The endowment proposal was the focus of a March 18 special consultative conference with the private sector and civil society, sponsored jointly by the OAS Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD) and The George Washington University’s Center for Latin American Issues. The roundtable discussion, under the theme of “Trading Debt for Development: National Endowments for Social Action,” was held at OAS Headquarters in Washington, where participants considered as well a possible regional endowment for social action among a range of initiatives and issues surrounding debt reduction, social development and poverty alleviation.

One of the objectives of this conference was “to consider the option of a National Endowment, similar to the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy but focused on social action goals, as a reasonable approach toward this goal," explained IACD Director General, L. Ron Scheman, who moderated a panel that considered “Contributing Debt for Social Action: How Can We Do It?”

Stressing that the core issue considered by the conference was to identify “a viable mechanism that would have credibility with donors, both from the public and private sectors, for re-channeling debt to accomplish the goals outlined by the International Conference on Financing for Development, in Monterrey,” Mr. Scheman recalled that “The Presidents at that conference asked the public and private sectors and civil society to get together to form national consensus to combat poverty.”

The roundtable at the OAS discussed other topics including “Governance Issues: How best to organize private sector, public sector and civil society participation;” and “Delivering Quality Social Action Programs: How to ensure effective government-civil society collaboration.”

Mexico’s Ambassador to the OAS, Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas, delivered the opening remarks at the forum, after the welcome by Dr. James Ferrer, Director of the Center for Latin American Issues. The meeting brought together other experts and officials, including Eric Farnsworth, Council of the Americas Vice President for Washington Operations; Inés Bustillo, Director of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Ann Nicocelli, Executive Director of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce; and Daniel Erikson, Inter-American Dialogue’s Caribbean Programs Director.

Reference: E-064/03