United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)



Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Commerce, Development Cooperation, Disaster Risk Reduction, Industrial Development, Infrastructure, Natural Resource Management, Peace and Development, Private Sector Development, Renewable Energy, Science, Technology & Innovation, Sustainability and Environment, Trade, Water




01 - No Poverty, 02 - Zero Hunger, 03 - Good Health and Well-being, 04 - Quality Education, 05 - Gender Equality, 06 - Clean Water and Sanitation, 07 - Affordable and Clean Energy, 08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, 09 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 10 - Reduced Inequalities, 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production, 13 - Climate Action, 15 - Life on Land, 16 - Peace and Justice Strong Institutions, 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Organization Type

Multilateral Organization





Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)(or CEPAL, in Spanish and Portuguese), is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations. It was founded with the purpose of contributing to the economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinating actions directed towards this end, and reinforcing economic ties among countries and with other nations of the world. The promotion of the region's social development was later included among its primary objectives.

In June 1951, the Commission established the ECLAC subregional headquarters in Mexico City, which serves the needs of the Central American subregion, and in December 1966, the ECLAC subregional headquarters for the Caribbean was founded in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, ECLAC maintains country offices in Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Montevideo and Bogotá, as well as a liaison office in Washington, D.C.

Mandate and Mission

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.


In the half century since its founding, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has made significant contributions to regional development, and its theories and approaches have achieved recognition in many parts of the world.

The Commission has developed a school of thought concerning medium- and long-term economic and social trends in the Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The thinking of ECLAC is a dynamic process that has kept pace with the sweeping changes occurring in the economic, social and political arenas at the regional and international levels. In its early years the Commission developed its own method of analysis and thematic focus which, with some variations, it has maintained up to the present day.

Its approach, which has come to be known as "historical structuralism" focuses on the analysis of the ways in which the region's institutional legacy and inherited production structure influence the economic dynamics of developing countries and generate behaviours that differ from those of developed nations. This approach does not recognize the existence of uniform "stages of development", since for "latecomers to development", such as the countries of the region, the dynamics of the process are different than they were for the nations that underwent development at an earlier point in history. Thus, this school of thought feels that the region's economies can be better understood by referring to the concept of structural heterogeneity that was formulated in the 1960s.

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