The Latin American and Caribbean region has made enormous development strides in recent decades, from the consolidation of democratic governments and continued advances in health and education to more recent progress in protecting the environment and reducing inequality. By 2015, the region as a whole has met the majority of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a historic achievement.

As countries adopt and work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 they must also think of progress as ‘multidimensional’—beyond economic gains alone. This requires transforming traditional development models, raising the quality of life of all people while also preserving the environment in and around urban centres. Citizens demand more effective and transparent governments playing a substantive role in boosting employment, education, and health—and guaranteeing safer societies. The region is more prosperous, less poor and unequal. It was the only region in the world that managed to reduce income inequality during the first decade of the 21st century. Latin America and the Caribbean also added 90 million people to an emerging middle class from 2000-2012.

As the most urbanized region in the world, Latin America must tackle new challenges with regards to inequality, social inclusion, employment, safe communities, affordable housing, among other urban issues. Around 80% of the region’s population is living in cities, with an estimated 90% of the population living in cities by 2020 (UN-Habitat). As growth in urban centers continues, UNDP remains committed to building resilient, sustainable, and inclusive cities for all citizens.


Argentina Barbados Belize Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Costa Rica Cuba Dominican Republic Ecuador ElSalvador Guatemala Guyana Haiti Honduras Jamaica Mexico Nicaragua Panama Paraguay Peru Suriname Trinidad and Tobago Uruguay Venezuela

Facts and Figures

10 of the 15 most unequal countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean"
80% of the population lives in cities. The region is the most urbanized developing region in the world
12% of global CO2 emissions comes from the region (Source: WRI)
24% of urban populations in Latin America lives in slums
Source: UN Habitat

Project Spotlight

The Metropolitan Development Programme of the Municipality of Guatemala began in July 2004 with the ongoing objective of strengthening decentralization and independence of local governments. The programme supports the promotion of inclusive development and democratic consolidation within the Municipality of Guatemala City, focusing on areas such as the environment, public safety, land rights, and disability access. The projects have targeted services and expanded opportunities for groups most at risk in the city, as well as developed needed infrastructure in the historic center.