The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the global economy to the brink, and Latin America and the Caribbean is no exception. According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the pandemic will cause the biggest recession the region has suffered since 1914 and 1930. ECLAC projects South America’s GDP will contract 5.2 percent, Central America 2.3 percent, and the Caribbean 1.5 percent. At the same time, unemployment is expected to reach 11.5 percent, up from 8.1 percent last year. The number of people out of a job in Latin America would rise to about 38 million.
The COVID-19 outbreak hit Latin America at an extremely difficult time. In 2019, the region was the most poorly performing in the world, only growing by a mere 0.1 percent. What’s worse, the sectors most affected by the spread of the virus are also the most crucial: trade, tourism, remittances, commodity prices, and the informal economy—composed of nearly 140 million Latin Americans, or about 55 percent of the working population.
As the region begins to think of ways to recover and grow following COVID-19, governments should shift toward a clean economy. In its latest analysis, research company BloombergNEF found that solar and onshore wind power are the cheapest sources of new power development for at least two-thirds of the global population. Writing for Global Americans, Maximiliano Bello and Anders Beal note “important decisions will need to be made to ensure regional development is sustainable…[the pandemic should] represent a turning point for how governments view social safety nets and the environment.”