After a decade of diligent economic management, financial resilience and steady social progress, Latin America is at a crossroads. The combination of slower growth prospects and sustained high levels of inequality pose new challenges. To advance, the region needs to improve productivity and develop institutions that are agile in responding to the needs of citizens.

In its 10th year, the World Economic Forum on Latin America returns to Mexico to collaborate in Latin America’s transition to long-term economic growth and social development. Mexico, one of the leading economies in Latin America and current holder of the pro-tempore presidency of the Pacific Alliance, has made advances on a variety of critical reforms – including important changes to education, energy, fiscal and telecommunications legislation – which are creating new opportunities. The meeting will provide an ideal platform for committed decision-makers to set a bold renovation agenda and take initiative on a new generation of Latin American investments.

The first step towards transformation requires strengthening the foundations of Latin America’s society. Modern, efficient and transparent institutions are needed to deliver (follow links to watch individual live streamed sessions from the Latin America meeting) long-term prosperity. Latin America’s young people are the cornerstone to propel positive change in society. Quality education systems will help to build the skill sets necessary for Latin America’s economies to improve productivity and reduce inequality.

Slower growth driven in part by declining commodity prices will demand renewing the framework of Latin America’s economies. Better financial regulations, fiscal discipline, and reforms in key sectors including energy, infrastructure, and labour markets are required to ensure sound macroeconomic fundamentals. The role of business – from small local enterprises to large multinationals – comes increasingly under the spotlight as a pathway for improved productivity, investment and inclusive growth.

Ultimately, the region’s leaders will need to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in modernizing for tomorrow. Cutting-edge research, emerging technologies, and innovative business models are required to help secure social and financial inclusion, reduce poverty, and protect the environment. Latin American cities will be redesigned using smart technologies as urban hubs connect with global networks.

Among more than 750 participants of 45 nationalities at the meeting, there will be 5 heads of state and government from Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala and Haiti. In addition, 60 ministers and international organisation representatives from 22 countries will be present, including public figures from Cuba, Ecuador, Uruguay and Paraguay that are joining our regional meeting for the first time. A special session for business will focus on Cuba’s economy and opportunities for investment in the country.

For the first time, we will bring some new formats to the summit. The Transformation Hub is where participants will explore actions to address the region’s most pressing challenges in the context of global transformations. Briefing sessions on the Pacific Alliance and innovation unpack and diagnose complex situations through a lively discussion with topic experts from the public and private sector. Solutions sessions provide an interactive forum for participants to develop creative approaches to solve certain intractable issues for the public and private sector.

By bringing together leaders from so many different backgrounds we look forward to offering an unparalleled opportunity for multi-stakeholder dialogue to influence the future course of the region, through a renovation agenda.

The World Economic Forum on Latin America 2015 takes place in Riviera Maya, Mexico, from 6-8 May.

Authors: Marisol Arqueta de Barillas, Senior Director, Head of Latin America, World Economic Forum. Gill Cassar, Senior Programme Manager, Programme lead for Latin America, World Economic Forum. 

Image: Steelworkers work on the roof structure inside the Arena Amazonia stadium in Manaus December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn