Business & Economy

IDB president identifies three Latin American challenges that innovation can solve

Bogota, Jun 13 (EFE).- Latin America faces a “triple challenge” concerning the generation of social welfare and growth, as well as fiscal resource issues, all of which can be tackled with innovation, Inter-American Development Bank President Ilan Goldfajn said Tuesday in Bogota.

“Societies are demanding that we improve inequality and poverty, and deliver better public services in the areas of health, transport, and digitalization (among others),” Goldfajn told Agencia EFE. He was in Bogotá participating in the opening of the second global forum of IDB Lab, the bank’s innovation laboratory, which concludes tomorrow.

Goldfajn, who took office for a five-year term on December 19, 2022, also emphasized the need to stimulate growth to “generate more resources” through productivity.

“We need to generate resources to provide these social services that the public is demanding,” he insisted, highlighting that despite recent improvements, poverty and inequality “are still there.” Hence, it’s crucial to lower inequality rates from 0.50 to 0.30.

“This has to do with innovation because innovation generates ideas, ideas generate value, and value generates growth,” added Goldfajn, who arrived in Colombia as part of a tour through Latin America and the Caribbean that began in Peru and will soon continue in Jamaica.

Goldfajn also underscored the lack of fiscal resources as a problem to be solved, adding that innovation will be “key” to tackling this “triple challenge,” for instance, “generating growth in productivity and prosperity.”


Regarding the next phases the IDB will follow, the president explained that the goal is to create “the conditions, the standard, and the technologies” that can be leveraged “on a large scale.”

In this context, he cited the use of ‘blockchain’ technology (a ledger where digital transactions are recorded in a verifiable, permanent, anonymous, and intermediary-free manner) so it can be used “much more and much faster,” or the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to “generate ideas and make life easier” for people, improving areas like health and education.

He also pointed to the importance of developing financial technologies like the instant payment system, PIX, currently operating in Brazil.

In relation to the earlier phases of IDB Lab, Goldfajn noted that they started with the development of solutions and ecosystems that could generate conditions for the private sector, followed by support to small businesses to grow in innovation, and finally combined both approaches.

Looking forward to this new stage that seeks to facilitate “scalability” and “standardization,” Goldfajn stressed the importance of generating synergies and having a joint vision of priorities, for instance, in social, climate change, or physical and digital infrastructure investment to boost productivity.

IDB Lab, the innovation arm of the IDB Group, which marks its 30th anniversary “in full evolution towards the first innovation hub” for development in the region, has mobilized more than $2 billion in 2,700 innovation projects since 1993 with the collaboration of over 1,500 regional and global partners. EFE



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