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Name United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC or ECLAC)
Logo Image:Inglesportada_r2_c1.jpg
Geographic Scope Latin America and Caribbean
Subject Focus Expertise Economic and social development
Contact E-mail: webmaster@eclac.cl
URL http://www.eclac.org
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The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC or ECLAC) is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was created in 1948 to support Latin American governments in the economic and social development of that region, and is headquartered in Santiago, Chile. ECLAC serves as a centre of excellence in the region and coordinates actions for Latin American development and reinforces economic relationships among the countries and with the other nations of the world. The Commission has a total of 41 member States; in addition, 7 non-independent Caribbean territories hold the status of associate members. It collaborates with its member States and with a variety of local, national and international institutions in undertaking a comprehensive analysis of development processess based on an examination of the design, follow-up and evaluation of public policies. Many of the ECLAC divisions that carry out these analysis and research tasks also provide technical assistance, training and information services in selected cases.

The Division of Natural Resources and Infrastructure

The Division of Natural Resources and Infrasturucture is made up of the Unit for Natural Resources and Energy and Transport Unit. This Division addresses the contribution to the sustainable development of natural resources and their goods and services, as well as transport and public works in the relevant countries in the region. Work pertaining to aspects of conservation and sustainable use of freshwater is included within this Division. The orientation of the Division's work toward the MDGs involves the design of strategies for managing natural resources and regulation of public utilities to consider the objectives of equity.

The secretariat of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC):

  • Provides substantive secretariat services and documentation for the Commission and its subsidiary bodies;
  • Undertakes studies, research and other support activities within the terms of reference of the Commission;
  • Promotes economic and social development through regional and subregional cooperation and integration;
  • Gathers, organizes, interprets and disseminates information and data relating to the economic and social development of the region;
  • Provides advisory services to Governments at their request and plans, organizes and executes programmes of technical cooperation;
  • Formulates and promotes development cooperation activities and projects of regional and subregional scope commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for such projects;
  • Organizes conferences and intergovernmental and expert group meetings and sponsors training workshops, symposia and seminars;
  • Assists in bringing a regional perspective to global problems and forums and introduces global concerns at the regional and subregional levels;
  • Coordinates ECLAC activities with those of the major departments and offices at United Nations Headquarters, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations with a view to avoiding duplication and ensuring complementarity in the exchange of information.

Key Resources


1. CEPALSTAT - is an online statistical databse providing statistics which allows users to create statistical graphs and maps for a range of water-related indicators, including access to drinking water, water quality, and wastewater in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Source:UNECLAC website
  • Activity Report of the Division of Natural Resources and Infrastructure (2007)
  • Services of drinking water and swerage in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina: Factors and determinants of sustainability and performance (2007) - The analysis of the experience of the provision of water services and sanitation in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is of interest to draw lessons for two main reasons: (i) the poor management of the provision by the State company provided the rationale for the process of transformation sector and privatization of the operation, which was notable for its speed and scale, and (ii) the performance of private enterprise was marked by breaches of contract, repeated renegotiations, and conflict regulatory tariff increases, resulting in the termination of the concession contract. Por consiguiente, el caso es ejemplificador de los problemas de insostenibilidad de los servicios de agua potable y saneamiento, tanto cuando dichos servicios son prestados por entidades del sector público como en aquellos casos cuando son provistos por compañías privadas. Therefore, the case is exemplary of the problems of unsustainable water services and sanitation, both when these services are provided by public sector entities and in those cases when they are provided by private companies.
  • Urban water services and sewage in Chile: determinants of performance - The experience of the provision of drinking water and sewage services in Santiago and other urban centers in Chile in general, it is interesting for two main reasons: (i) high levels of coverage and efficiency achieved under the provision of public services And (ii) the magnitude of investments and the absence of significant regulatory conflicts, or the ability to resolve them expeditiously and pragmatically, once the model of private provision of the same. The aim of this study is to identify the key factors that have influenced the provision of services in urban areas of Chile, and especially in the city of Santiago, with a perspective of other countries in the region. The analysis focuses both on the endogenous factors to the sector of potable water and sewerage (institutional structure, industrial structure, private participation, regulatory framework, policies, financing, pricing and subsidies, sequencing of the reform process and timing of economic, social and environmental issues, etc.) as in the exogenous (macroeconomic, social status, place of the sector in policy priorities to be evidence of government decisions, policies for water management and the environment, etc). Special attention is paid to the impact of macroeconomic policies on the patterns of sustainability of services
  • Water Governance for development and sustainability (2006) - This document aims to identify the characteristics of water institutions that promote the sustainable integration of water, both as a resource and a service, into socioeconomic development. As this does not depend solely on formal institutional factors, such as legislation and organisational structure, there are also references to dynamic conditions, such as socioeconomic circumstances and the quality of the administration, summarised in the concept of governance, understood as the capability of a social system to mobilise energies, in a coherent manner, for the sustainable development of water resources.
  • Water management at the river basin level: challenges in Latin America (2001) - River basin management and the creation and operation of organizations for water resources management at the river basin level is one of the central areas of work, both in terms of policy-oriented research and technical advisory activities, of the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Division. These technical advisory activities and policyoriented research have resulted in many studies on various aspects of river basin management and the creation and operation of river basin organizations (see Annex 1), but most of them are available only in Spanish. The objective of this publication is to make a summary of this research available in English.
  • Network for Cooperation in Integrated Water Resource Management for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (1999) - From the hydrological viewpoint, water resources should be managed in accordance with the concept of the river basin. There are invariably problems in implementing such an approach, because most of the countries of the region have a long-standing tradition of centralized public administration. Attempts to apply the concept of water management at the river basin level in these countries have generally been only partially successful.
  • Network for Cooperation in Integrated Water Resource Management for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (1997) - A recurrent theme at recent international forums has been the supposed “global water crisis” and the spectre of an increasing water shortage. Discussions often focus also on the lack of appropriate mechanisms for resolving conflicts among water users with respect to quantity, quality and time. In turn, reference is made to the inadequacy of efforts made to ensure conservation of water as an element that is vital in ecosystems.
  • Water Manual for Latin America and the Caribbean - In light of the region’s epidemiological indicators, mortality rates are closely related to infectious diseases that, to a large degree, depend on the quality of water consumed and on available access to adequate sanitation services. This situation turns critical during disasters so this sector must concentrate post-disaster activities on the rehabilitation of the services that might constitute sources of epidemics, paying special attention to water quality, sanitary removal of excreta, and to management of solid waste....

Click Here for all water-related publications in the ECLAC library.

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Work on the Ground

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1. Water Law and Indigenous Rights

Water Law and Indigenous Rights is a joint initiative carried out by Wageningen University through its Faculty on Irrigation and Water Resources Engineering and the Economic Comision for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) through its Division of Natural Resources and Infrastructure. It is an international and inter-institutional endeavour based on action-research, scholarly exchange, advocacy, and empowerment. This comparative research programme builds upon academic research and action-researchers in local networks - both indigenous and non-indigenous, and critically informs debates on indigenous and customary rights in water legislation and water policy, both to facilitate local action platforms and to influence law- and policy-makers. WALIR is especially concerned with the equitable distribution of water rights and democratic decision-making, and a key focus is the empowerment of those sectors which are oppressed, discriminated against, and marginalized in the context of water law and practice.


See also

External Resources


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