TUCA-TUDCN Regional Meeting 2024: Rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals

Trade union leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean came together for a two-day webinar with representatives of UN bodies in the region to address the current status of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and to discuss the trade union priorities for the 2024 Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Countries on Sustainable Development.

The event was held by the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) from 9 to 10 April 2024.

Through this meeting, the trade unions sought to impress on the UN representatives taking part that workers are key actors in their countries’ sustainable development processes and UN representatives must fulfill their mandate to ensure the effective and structured inclusion of trade union organisations in the sustainable development processes they lead so that the workers’ perspective – such as their demands for decent work, respect for their rights, decent wages, social protection, equality, and inclusion – is taken on board and duly reflected in development policies.

As in other regions, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are not making adequate progress towards achieving the SDG targets. The main SDGs for social resilience, for example – SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 8 (decent work and sustainable growth), and SDG 10 (reducing inequalities) – all show high levels of backtracking or inadequate progress. Concerning SDG 8, sufficient progress has only been made on two of its eleven targets.

The reality of the situation was brought into sharper focus by the trade union representatives who spoke of the challenges faced by workers and trade unions in their countries, ranging from the acute poverty spreading across Argentina as a result of the Milei government’s decisions, to the malnutrition suffered by workers in Venezuela amid the climate of corruption and the economic stagnation caused by the sanctions, or the pivotal role played by trade unions in promoting a successful conclusion of the peace agreements in Colombia to the region-wide efforts of trade unions in Amazon countries to develop a joint just transition plan.

The UN representatives thanked the trade unionists for their testimonies, which, as Ana Moreira, regional director of the ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “confirmed the importance of tripartism and the key role of trade unions as development actors”. The director of the UN Development Coordination Office in Latin America and the Caribbean, Roberto Valent, reiterated that “for the UN, trade unions are relevant actors with which it wants to cooperate”. He also expressed concern that the region is at risk of suffering major reversals in crucial areas such as social protection and climate action. Finally, the secretary of ECLAC, Luis Yáñez, called for increased collaboration and complementarity between ECLAC and trade unions.