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The growing discourse of rejection of the 2030 Agenda in Latin American governments

The High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, during her speech at an event.

Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

by Javier Surasky

First Published in: Mar.12,2024

Apr.12, 2024

In September 2015, the delegations of the 150 presidents participating in the Sustainable Development Summit were part of the 193 States preparing to adopt the outcome document of this meeting. This meeting represented the end of the most participatory negotiation process in the history of the United Nations: the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The sense of optimism and of moving towards a common goal was palpable. Eight years later, the progress of the 2030 Agenda has fallen far short of expectations. Unfulfilled promises, lack of financing, the health crisis generated by COVID-19, the recent wars, and the global economy that has faced first recessionary and then inflationary pressures all have made the idea of finding common solutions to the problems afflicting the world lose momentum.

Misinformation on the 2030 Agenda

On this fertile soil, conspiracy theories sprout that see multilateralism as the origin of today’s problems. The 2030 Agenda is, in many cases, at the center of these distorted visions. Three conspiracy theories are being raised against the main global sustainable development agenda. Theory of the “New World Order”: This theory is based on the idea that an elite (Bilderberg Club style) formed by a small group of the most powerful people in the world governs the destinies of the planet for their benefit. The “Great Reboot” theory was proposed in Davos after the pandemic, and with the UN’s “build back better” vision, the theory focuses on the economic dimension. It suggests an orchestrated plan by the most powerful countries to appropriate all the world’s wealth. They claim the intentional creation of a pandemic to initiate their plan. “Trickle-down communism” theory: After the fall of the Soviet Union – and knowing that communism could never take over the West – the “left” began a worldwide campaign to slowly insert its ideas into Western societies so that by the time the plan was discovered, the West would have embraced the communist ideal without realizing it. All three conspiracies arrive at the same result: the 2030 Agenda is creating a group (an economic elite, a group of powerful countries, or international communism) aiming to appropriate the world’s wealth. These stories contradict reality and seek to misinform about this milestone for international cooperation, which, despite the difficulty of addressing it, is a renewal of the concept of international development. The disinformation of the 2030 Agenda happens, in most cases, through social networks, and their expressions claim, for example, that this is oriented to Forcing citizens to eat insects instead of meat. Confine the world’s population to neighborhoods where they cannot leave without permission under “15-minute cities”. Feminize men to reduce the world population. Despite the absurdity of the “arguments,” they have served as a basis for those who seek to debate the value of the 2030 Agenda in Latin America. José Luis Chilavert, former goalkeeper of the Paraguayan national soccer team, became a candidate for president of his country in the 2023 elections. He obtained 0.7% of the votes but explained his decision: “I got into politics to fight against Agenda 2030. They want to destroy us.” Sandra Torres, three-time presidential candidate for the Partido Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE by its acronym in Spanish) party, said in a video in the 2023 election campaign: “I will never let them impose an international agenda on us. We Guatemalans will set Guatemala’s agenda. I believe in life, family, and religious freedom. No to Agenda 2030.” In Chile, Congressman Cristóbal Urruticoechea Ríos, with an active mandate until 2026, stated in his country’s congress that “the dehumanization of human beings and the humanization of animals, the destruction of language, the destruction of the middle classes, the liquidation of the sovereignty of nations, the attack on families, life and roots. This is part of the 2030 Agenda.” After Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in the last Brazilian elections, his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, became the face of the Liberal Party. His position is forceful: “The more we fight against Agenda 2030, the greater our electoral success will be.” In Costa Rica, New Republic deputy David Segura said in a speech at the chamber that the 2030 Agenda was adopted to “confuse people and, of course, to impose little by little the great modern enemy of all families, which is the nefarious gender ideology,” and then added that Agenda 2030 “opens the door to promote nothing more and nothing less than abortion, financed by international capital giants that pursue their interests, which are far from being yours, mine.” At the level of presidents we have Nayib Bukele, recently reelected to govern El Salvador, maintains a cautious position: “On the issue of Agenda 2030, I am very suspicious of this type of international agendas of the UN, the World Economic Forum, or wherever they come from and their intentions”. Although undoubtedly, the greatest exponent of conspiracy theories in the region is Javier Milei, current president of Argentina, who, during his campaign, stated, “We are not going to adhere to Agenda 2030. We do not adhere to cultural Marxism. We do not adhere to decadence” (read in Spanish), and, already in office, he explained that he was traveling to the Davos Forum with the aim of “planting the ideas of freedom in a forum that is contaminated with the socialist agenda 2030 that will only bring misery to the world”. With such positions, one of the few well-established consensuses in the region during the last 10 years is cracking. The fact that the discussion is settled will be a setback that cannot be allowed. It is up to Latin America’s leaders to armor their support for the 2030 Agenda by being clearer in their positions and more active than before in their policies to implement the SDGs. The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development must make a strong statement in that direction. When the UN Secretary-General stated that we are facing a “breakdown or breakthrough” dilemma, it seemed a rhetorical question. For Latin America, it is no longer so.

First published in :

Cepei / Colombia


Javier Surasky

Ph.D. in International Relations (La Plata National University, Argentina) Master in International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action (International University of Andalucia). He has taught international cooperation courses at different postgraduate careers in Latin America and European universities. Professor of Public International Law at the La Plata National University. He worked as a consultant of different international organizations, governments, and civil society organizations. He authored several books and articles in scientific journals and currently coordinates the Governance for Development Unit of Cepei. 

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