Agenda: Suramerica January 2013

Our first issue of 2013 starts with three important topics that are recently receiving much attention, but whose consequences and dynamics are difficult to grasp. These three topics deserve another look because the visibility of some events may hinder what are their actual potential in the future.

Our first article is about various countries in the South American region organizing macro-events in order to attract tourist and promote their service sector —where a great portion of informal jobs and precariousness exist. Governments are investing heavily in creating infrastructure and giving all the support that the private sector needs to organize successful events. Nevertheless, these events are just the tip of the iceberg: governments may be losing the opportunity of having a wave of tourist in the next ten years in order to extend benefits to a vast group of informal workers that depend on services that tourist demand, such as retailing, restaurants, and tours, among others.

Climate change is making things worse for vulnerable population in South American countries. Nevertheless, the rhetoric at negotiation tables still refers to the time when the Kyoto Protocol was being designed. Such clear division of responsibilities between developed and developing countries simply cannot hold in a post-Kyoto world. It is now that such divisions are becoming a insurmountable barrier to reach an agreement. Nevertheless, such divisions of interests, goals and coalitions has roots in the growing diversity of countries in the region, but they cannot be a pretext for not reaching a shared criteria to deal with global negotiations about climate change.

Participation was, two decades ago, the flavor of the month in development policies. Giving power to people in democracies was a correct strategy to improve social services and design public policies. Nevertheless, the growing gap between the political discourse on what participation can potentially bring and what actually achieves in most localities is giving ammunition to some authorities to reverse participatory processes. Again, cities need to be creative, not only by improving consultations with alternative techniques to reach people that has been reluctant to participate, but also by improving their internal bureaucratic processes to become more responsive and open to citizens’ preferences.



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