COVID-19 vaccinations, economic growth and more: Latin America's leaders share their priorities for 2022

Latin American political leaders gathered at Davos Agenda to discuss their objectives for a post-pandemic recovery.
Latin American political leaders gathered at Davos Agenda to discuss their objectives for a post-pandemic recovery.
Image: World Economic Forum
  • The political leaders of Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, as well as the President of the Inter-American Development Bank spoke at The Davos Agenda 2022 on their goals for this upcoming year.
  • The focus for Latin America is to increase vaccination rates against COVID-19, pursue swift economic recovery and integrate climate action in their policies.
  • Here are some of the highlights from this session.

Social unrest, polarisation and economic uncertainty amid the pandemic are just some of the biggest challenges Latin America has been facing over the past two years.

What are the region’s priorities and goals at the start of the year and how can leaders cooperate decisively to overcome barriers and drive long-term prosperity? These were some of the questions tackled by a panel that included: Guillermo Lasso, President of the Republic of Ecuador; José Pedro Castillo Terrones, President of the Republic of Peru; Ivan Duque, President of Colombia; Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica; Alejandro Giammattei, President of Guatemala; Mauricio Claver-Carone, President, The Inter-American Development Bank.

The session was moderated by Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum Geneva and Marisol Argueta de Barillas, Head of the Regional Agenda, Latin America, World Economic Forum.

Priority #1: Increasing the number vaccinated in Latin America

Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado Quesada says his country's population is more than 85% double vaccinated against COVID-19 and pushing forward with the vaccination programme will be key.

José Pedro Castillo Terrones, President of Peru, shares that more than 84% of Peru's population is vaccinated against COVID-19, with 55 million more doses on the way this year.

Priority #2: Ensuring economic growth and recovery in Latin America

Vaccinations will ensure that economies are not further disrupted. Ivan Duque, President of Colombia, says his goal for 2022 is to pursue massive vaccination and push for the highest figures over the next year. With more people receiving first and second shots, the country can grow its economy and "return to pre-pandemic momentum."

Guillermo Lasso, president of Ecuador, agreed. He noted that Ecuador has recovered 70% of jobs lost in 2020 due to the pandemic. Vaccinations can keep economies resilient. "Vaccinations don't just protect health," he said. "They will re-enable social reactivation, social recovery."

Latin American countries have other economic priorities as well. President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammatei says that his country's GDP hit a 7.5% in 2021, a height not need in two decades. The country's challenge this year, he says, will be to maintain that rate of growth and "keep up with the economic recovery."

These leaders realize that there are still equity gaps that must be bridged and prioritised. Mauricio Claver-Carone, President of The Inter-American Development Bank, states that despite inflation and the many other challenges the region faces, "we cannot have a decade of missed opportunities in terms of narrowing the economic gap."

Jobs and opportunity were a key priority for many speakers and a mechanism to drive continued resilience and prosperity. Says Alejandro Giammatei: "If people have jobs, if people have security, if people have health and quality education, people will not migrate. People migrate because they need to."

Priority #3: Keeping climate action goals in sight in Latin America

Leaders recognise the key role that protecting the climate will play in both the short and long term. To this end, the President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso shared news about the expansion of a conservation project around the Galápagos Islands announced earlier this year, one providing safe passage for marine life.

Citing the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2022, Carlos Alvarado Quesada stressed that preventing the loss of biodiversity and mitigating the worst impacts of climate change is an essential part of Costa Rica's goals for this year. "When it comes to the environment, we need to integrate the environment within those components, we should not see the environment as a separate item."

The government of Colombia recently approved a Climate Action Bill, in which its goal is to achieve net-zero by 2050. The government is also focusing on renewable energy and has also pledged to the World Economic Forum's One Trillion Trees initiative, as well as the BiodiverCities by 2030 initiative.

Watch the full session here.

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