The Regional Chevening* Alumni Conference Latin America, hosted in Bogotá – Colombia (15th -16th March 2018), was an opportunity to establish the Chevening Latin American Network and a place to discuss relevant topics to Latin America such as corruption, trade, sustainable development, and regional leadership.
Seven members from Bloomsbury Policy Group representing five latin american countries (María Alexandra Castellanos – Ecuador, Martín Soto Florián – Perú, Jhon Edinson Lugo – Colombia, Eliana Camargo – Colombia, Ángela Hernández – Colombia, Diego Reyeros – México, Mauro Casa – Uruguay) actively participated and collaborated at the the Regional Chevening Alumni Conference Latin America by leading workshops and being part of the panel discussions. In addition, BPG had the opportunity to close the event by presenting BPG as an example of an organization that promotes the professionalisation of policymaking in Latin America based on strong evidence and best practices from around the world. As a result from the conference and BPG¨s presentation, some conference participants approached BPG representatives to express their interest in collaborating in our network.
The conference was enriched with insightful discussions about the role and challenges of trade, anti-corruption, sustainability, gender and leadership in the region. In the case of trade, Francisco Werneck, Partner at Pinheiro Neto Advogados, mentioned: “It is important to keep in mind the differences that exist in the region, LATAM is not homogeneous” and “LATAM needs of leadership and political willingness to align its goals and achieve trade cooperation.” – This is where Chevening can help. Maria Laura Roteta, Head of the Prosecutor’s Office for Economic Crime and Money Laundering from Buenos Aires, said in the Anti-corruption panel that “Corruption is like tango, it needs two to dance it. When dealing with the region, it is danced by two multinational dancers. When laundering money, there’s always a sender and a receiver. Hence, international cooperation and standardizations of our laws is of vital importance.” The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Attorney, Edward Perez, affimed that “Corruption is a regional issue, which needs a regional solution”. In addition, Juan Carlos Restrepo, Colombian Presidential Advisor for Security, argued that – “The story goes: Clientelistic public systems = corruption = crippling institutions = lack of representation = the need of society to stop this cycle”, and Jorge Restrepo, Director of Conflict Analysis Resource Centre – Colombia, said that – “Security and safety should be treated as a public right since achieving both not only benefits the victims, it benefits everyone. We need to take a gender-based approach to corruption. It is important to think of women not only as victims, but as a real solution to reduce organized and petty corruption”.
Moreover, in the Sustainability Panel Claudia Vargas, International Consultant in Water and Sanitation mentioned that “LATAM is one of the regions with the best availability of water in the world. However, the issue that remains is accessibility, and most importantly, infrastructure”. Leonardo Machado, Drilling Fluids Analyst confirms that “Oil & gas, and renewables, can work together. We just need to manage them in a prudent manner. The revenues of oil & gas must be used to improve infrastructure of renewable technologies. By 2050 we will add an extra China to the world population-wise. What is the solution? Education, technology…. And Latin America.”
Finally the Leadership panel was driven by gender equality challenges, some of them mentioned by Claudia Calvin, CEO and Founder Mujeres Construyendo from Mexico: “We need to engender leadership. Women are actually the only majority that think they are a minority.”
To sum up , the regional chevening Conference emphasized the needs to create strong Latam networks to overcome common interest such as anti-corruption, sustainable development and trade. As part of the BPG suggestions to the Chevening Secretariat, we stated that a thematic annual meeting among Latin American Chevening Scholars was needed. On this regard, we suggest that this should begin with an integrity, good practices and anticorruption annual meeting.
*Chevening is the UK government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders since 1983.