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 Versión Español | October 2015


Message from the new Executive Secretary, Ambassador Neil Parsan

It is my distinct privilege and with great humility that I am called upon to work with member states in leading the Organization of American States’ efforts in the area of development. As Executive Secretary for Integral Development, I will join a dedicated and talented team of professionals that work arduously to support member states in advancing their development objectives; whether in the area of education, labor, competitiveness, tourism or sustainability, just to name a few of the region’s priority areas.

Integral development is one of the four core pillars of this organization, but, as I have often stated, it can be argued that because of its multifaceted nature, it is the determinant in how we progress as a region in the other primary areas of our focus – democracy, security and human rights. Our member states have recognized the interdependent and mutually reinforcing nature of these pillars and continue to assign great importance to the organization’s efforts in development.

In the last decade, Latin America and the Caribbean made significant economic and social progress. A new report (ECLAC, 2015) estimates that between 1990 and 2015, the region more than halved the proportion of people living with less than $1.25 dollar per day --from 12.6% in 1990 to 4.6% in 2011. Additionally, today’s figures for labor participation and unemployment are at their best levels in 20 years and, as of 2015, 93% of young people between 15 and 19 years of age have finished primary education.

Yet, important challenges still remain. Not only is our region commonly cited as the world's most unequal, but persisting productivity gaps, lack of access to quality education and the challenges imposed by climate change disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations in our region, which threatens to exacerbate the already alarming levels of inequality. In addition, experts agree that the region’s economic growth will be much slower in years to come, going from an average 5% annual growth in the last decade to 2.2% in 2015 (World Bank, 2014).

Further intensifying this low-growth scenario is the considerable decrease in official development assistance (ODA) channeled by donors to Latin America and the Caribbean, which ECLAC reports went from representing 14% of total global ODA to 7.6% between 1960 and the current decade. This trend is expected to endure as our region continues to transition from a group of low-income to middle-income countries.

In this context, the organization’s focus on regional policy dialogue and technical cooperation for development becomes ever-more relevant. By bringing together rich national experiences and expertise from other sectors in a true partnership for development, the OAS is well positioned to play an important role in helping countries face existing development challenges in a more resource-constrained environment.

Without a doubt, partnerships for sustainable development – whether between member states or with other actors and regions -- are fundamental to succeeding as a region in this area. This imperative, which has traditionally powered the work of the OAS, has been once again recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals approved this month, which will guide the new global development agenda until 2030 and that will be a constant consideration in our work.

As I assume the role of OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development,, I look forward to continue working with member states, staff and partners to advance the work entrusted to the Organization in the area of development, in order to contribute to tracing a path of prosperity, sustainability and inclusion for our region.

On a personal note, I am indeed looking forward to having all of my team at the Secretariat working as a cohesive whole with all heads, all hearts, all hands on deck to bring a better quality of life to all of the peoples of the Americas. It is our responsibility as leaders to strive for this, leaving this world a better place than we met it.


Amb. Neil Parsan
Executive Secretary for Integral Development
Organization of American States

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