Spain and Latin America promote new alliances in sustainability, digitalisation and inclusion

During the CAF Europe - Latin America Relations Conference, public and private sector representatives from both sides of the Atlantic highlighted the potential for revitalising relations between Spain and Latin America


CAF -development bank of Latin America-, the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, and the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE) brought together a group of specialists and leaders from the public and private sectors at Casa América in Madrid to explore new ways of strengthening relations between Spain and Latin America, especially in terms of sustainability, digitalisation, social inclusion and the promotion of the Spanish language.

During the conference, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of Spain's membership of CAF, the long-term effects of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, Latin America's leadership in combating climate change and the need to work together to revive economies and find solutions to the major global challenges of the coming decades were also analysed.

After the welcome by Enrique Ojeda, General Director of Casa América, Sergio Díaz-Granados, CAF's Executive President, recalled how the lives of millions of people have been improved thanks to the investments made by the institution, and the approval of a capital increase of 7 billion dollars, which will double the size of the bank until 2030.


Díaz-Granados proposed closer relations between European countries and Latin America and expressed his hopes for Spain's future presidency of the EU in the second half of 2023 and for the possibility of holding a new summit of European and Latin American finance ministers. He also spoke of the importance of the digital transformation, the ecological transformation and the Spanish language, topics covered in the different panels. With regard to climate change, he stated that "any solution to the climate crisis must come from Latin America".

For his part, Gonzalo García Andrés, Secretary of State for the Economy and Business Support, defended public-private cooperation and indicated that, although we are currently experiencing a high level of uncertainty in the economic sphere, such as supply-side problems, increases in energy and food prices, rising interest rates and rising inflation, "we must be confident, because we have the institutions and the tools to overcome these problems and continue to grow".

The conference began with a discussion on the current context of the bi-regional relationship and the need to strengthen alliances in order to make cooperation and joint work the strategy to follow. It was moderated by Pepa Bueno, Director of El País, and was attended by Andrés Allamand, Ibero-American Secretary General, SEGIB; Julissa Reynoso, US Ambassador to Spain; and José Juan Ruiz, President of the Elcano Royal Institute.

The conference had two panels and a closing dialogue with the participation of Enrique García, former Executive President of CAF, and Enrique Iglesias, former President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The first panel discussed the relevance of Latin America and the Caribbean in environmental issues and the need for the region to achieve the goals set for 2030. It was moderated by journalist Michael Reid, from The Economist, with the participation of Adriana Mira, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador; Gabriela Ramos, Director General of Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO; Ángeles Santamaría, CEO Iberdrola Spain; Adriana Mejía, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OECD; and Alicia Montalvo, Manager of Climate Action and Positive Biodiversity at CAF.


The second panel, on the value of Spanish and the positioning of Latin America, was moderated by Michael Stott, Latin America editor of the Finalcial Times, and included Juan Fernández Trigo, Spain's Secretary of State for Ibero-America and the Caribbean and Spanish in the World; Dan Restrepo, former Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US National Security Council; Cristina Gallach, Special Commissioner for the Alliance for the New Language Economy; Concepción Andreu, President of the Autonomous Community of La Rioja; and Richard Benjamins, Chief AI & Data Strategist at Telefónica.

The event was closed by Antonio Garamendi, President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE), who stressed that "the digital and ecological transitions are becoming key vectors on which investments must pivot", and by Christian Asinelli, Corporate Vice President of Strategic Programming at CAF, who said "We have ahead of us to work to give more relevance to the region, to be architects of the care of our common home, but to do so with a human face".