The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in some grave setbacks for Latin America's development agenda. Malnutrition, unemployment and inequality are, once again, on the rise and the region's debt-to-GDP ratios have increased considerably. At the same time, more is being demanded of Latin American states as the clamours for decarbonization, a transition to low carbon energy and climate adaptation are soaring and becoming ever more pressing. Moreover, this multitude of stresses is being imposed on the societies of Latin America at a time of increased global  polarization: if China's scaling up of its economic presence in Latin America has presented a number of states with financial, technical and commercial partnerships to pursue their developmental ambitions, the People's Republic's activities are also seen by some as deepening indebtedness, contributing to deindustrialisation and complicating the energy transition. So what lessons can the world--and especially other developing countries in Africa and elsewhere--learn from how Latin America is navigating these challenges? Where should key priorities lie? And what opportunities--political, technological, social--can be identified to get the development agenda back on track? 

Dr. Mauricio Cardenas and Dr. Harry Verhoeven of the Center on Global Energy Policy hosted Dr. Luis Felipe López Calva, UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, to better understand how Latin American societies are working through the convergence of several economic, environmental and social crises and how external global forces and dynamics impact their ability to meet the challenges posed by climatic changes.

This keynote kicked off a series of dialogues, convened by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia-SIPA and the Oxford University China-Africa Network (OUCAN), that focuses on China's role in the political economies of African and Latin American states. The dialogues bring together scholars, policymakers and civil society voices from across the world to reflect on how growing indebtedness, (potential) energy transitions and industrial policy are linked and what role China plays in impacting these connections.

---