How The 2030 Agenda Can Help Us Tackle The COVID-19 Crisis

How The 2030 Agenda Can Help Us Tackle The COVID-19 Crisis

The economic recovery this time around will have to be different, centered on environmental and social sustainability. It must steer us toward a low-carbon economy that is resilient to the effects of climate change and does not leave anyone behind.

The coronavirus pandemic is a global health crisis that has upended the lives of millions of people practically overnight and plunged us into the worst economic recession in 90 years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the “Great Lockdown” is unprecedented and this year developed economies will shrink by 6% and emerging economies by 1%. The IMF, the World Bank and the IDB Group all agree that Latin America and the Caribbean will suffer one of the worst setbacks in its history. It is the IDB Group’s view that, in the baseline scenario, the region’s GDP will decline as much as 5.5%.

Those most affected in the region will be the most vulnerable populations: people who live in poverty or extreme poverty, as well as workers in the informal sector, whose activities depend to a significant degree on close contact with people. A recent report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects that this crisis will increase short-term poverty and informal employment, the latter of which many people turn to as a survival strategy.

At the same time, the spread of this illness has further laid bare the social differences in the region—an echo of the mass protests seen during the last quarter of 2019. Dealing with this crisis will require better social cohesion from all of us.

As if that weren’t enough, the “Great Lockdown” is bringing us to a tipping point with regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, warns a report from UN Global Compact. Some of the effects of the crisis may be positive—such as reduced traffic and improved air quality as a result of the quarantine, both of which have been seen in several cities in the region and could contribute to reducing the effects of climate change (SDG 13).

In general, however, COVID-19 will almost certainly have a negative impact on the progress toward multiple SDGs. For example, we will see setbacks in improvements to health (SDG 3); in improved access to education (SDG 4) as schools close and online classes are not accessible to everyone; and in creating decent work (SDG 8). Along with this, COVID-19 affects women differently than men (SDG 5). Because they are the first line of defense, women are disproportionately affected, as they account for more than half of all doctors and 90% of nurses. Also, their income is more dependent on the informal sector, and they are put at greater risk of domestic violence during quarantines.

While countries must make it a priority to designate more resources to stopping the pandemic, it is critical for their responses to be aligned with the SDGs. We have 193 countries committed to reaching 17 SDGs within 10 years, even as this crisis impacts most of them. This represents a tremendous opportunity to use the 2030 Agenda as a guide in both responding to this emergency and planning for our future.

There are multiple ways the SDGs can be integrated into the economic recovery. For example, increased investment in healthcare equipment and the purchase of coronavirus tests is an opportunity to take those efforts further and improve the health sector’s supply chain, expand universal access to healthcare and bolster epidemiological research in the region (SDG 3). To continue reducing the impacts of climate change (SDG 13), the current air quality improvements could inspire businesses to rethink their activities using a more sustainable production paradigm, as suggested in a recent IDB analysis.

We also should not forget the work that remains to be done on water and sanitation systems (SDG 6), the creation of decent jobs (SDG 8), improvements to food security (SDG 2), the promotion of sustainable cities (ODS 11), the transition to clean energy (SDG 7) and the establishment of partnerships to move this agenda forward (SDG 17), to give a few examples. Investing in these areas will be essential for our development in the coming years. If we fail to do this, we will not be able to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) in the next decade, something that is already at risk. One study from United Nations University found that this crisis will increase the number of people living in poverty worldwide by 580 million, and ECLAC puts that figure at 45 million for our region.

This economic recovery has to be different. It has to focus on the kind of environmental and social sustainability that will steer us toward a low-carbon economy that is also resilient to the effects of climate change and that doesn’t leave anyone behind. To get there, the public sector, private sector and civil society will need to work together.
In particular, the private sector, as a main source of employment and investment, plays a fundamental role. Companies must make immediate efforts to protect their employees and support containment measures with telework mechanisms, social distancing and basic healthcare support. In the medium term, the lessons learned must be used to implement forms of work that contribute to reducing emissions, while at the same time creating jobs. Meanwhile, in the medium and long term, companies and investors can rebuild their supply chains and invest in consolidating sustainable production and consumption (SDG 12) in inclusive and innovative industries and in resilient infrastructure (SDG 13).

Multilateral development banks will play an important role in making this change. This includes IDB Invest, the largest development financier of the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. This pandemic is changing the global paradigm, starting with our behavior and patterns of consumption. The world cannot allow a crisis of this magnitude to happen ever again, even more so in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB):

Paul ‘tHoen


Paul ‘t Hoen brings more than 40 years of brand strategy and marketing communications experience throughout the Latin America/Caribbean region, including 5 years based in Panama City as Managing Director of McCann-Erickson.

Paul ‘t Hoen brings know-how and expertise in consumer insight and dynamics, positioning and brand purpose, communication technologies (digital, social, mass media and direct), consumer journey and an array of industries throughout Latin America.

His passion for marketing communications goes back to his days as an undergraduate at Stanford University where he researched imagery-mediated learning while majoring in Psychology and Economics.

A citizen of The Netherlands, Paul ‘t Hoen presently resides in Mexico City after 40 years with McCann-Erickson in 6 countries and covering 2 regions.

Marjorie Chanis


Marjorie Chanis began her career with Dell in 2003, as Sales Manager for Small and Medium Business in Latin America. Currently, she leads the Latin American business transformation and sales operations team for Dell EMC.

With more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, obtained from various leadership positions, Marjorie Chanis brings to Berg Associates in depth knowledge in strategy, organization, business development, sales and marketing.

Marjorie Chanis holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT) in Panama, a Public Relations Postgraduate from Florida International and a B.Sc. in Mass Communication from the Santa Maria La Antigua Catholic University (USMA) in Panama.

Languages: English and Spanish

Melissa Valderrábano Díaz


She holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with emphasis in Marketing, graduated from the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencias y Tecnología in Panama.

Melissa Valderrábano Díaz has experience implementing marketing strategies, new product launches and corporate image for the financial and consumer products sectors. She has extensive knowledge of banking processes, both front-end and back-end operations and their functioning at a local and international level.

Melissa Valderrábano Díaz has successfully led the implementation of the following projects: Launching of the new corporate image of Multi Credit Bank to Multibank, Launching of the Plan Futura Savings Account and ATRÉVETE Motivational Program for Banco Uno, Re-branding strategy from Corporate Banking to Consumer Banking for Banco Continental, Design and launching of the Gallito candy brand for Philip Morris Panama among others.

In recent years, she ventured into the reinsurance market enhancing the international projection of the Active Re brand in different traditional and digital media.

At Berg, Melissa Valderrábano Días is an Associate Consultant in the development, marketing and sales of e-learning products.

Languages: Spanish and English

Michelle Williams


Industrial Engineer with a Master’s Degree in Supply Chain Administration. She has studied in Canada, Puerto Rico and Panama.

At Berg Associates, Michelle Williams is a certified translator in Spanish / English and vice versa.

David Mulgrave Saavedra


Business Administrator graduated from the Regiomontana University of Mexico, he is also an Authorized Public Accountant and Auditor, degrees acquired at the same university.

He has more than 15 years of experience as a Sales manager in multinational companies such as Digicel Panamá, Telefónica Movistar, Bellsouth, ASSA Compañía de Seguros, Grupo Melo, Central Exportadora Silbros and Namutek Fintech. In addition to having been Director of Planning and Finance of the Colon Free Zone Administration.

He has extensive experience in strategic country planning, marketing, logistics, personnel management, budgeting with full P&L responsibility.

At Berg, David Mulgrave is a Consultant Associate in Development, Marketing and Sales of e-learning products.

Gisela Figge de Iturbide


Has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from INCAE Business School in Costa Rica, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Geography from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts in the United States.

She is experienced in project management and human resources management.

At Berg Associates, Gisela Figge de Iturbide is a certified translator in Spanish / English and vice versa.

Marelissa Quintero de Stanziola


Lawyer with a recognized career in the Panamanian financial sector. Specialist in the security market sector. She worked for 16 years in the Panamanian securities regulator, holding various management positions, interim commissioner in various periods, until she was appointed as Superintendent of the Securities Market for the period 2015 -2019. Being the first woman to hold this important position.

In the banking sector, she worked at MMG Bank Corporation, in addition to supporting other companies in the Morgan & Morgan Group Financial Unit, such as MMG Asset Management, Casa de Valores.

Currently partner at Virtu Atelier Legal.

She was recognized internationally while occupying important positions at IOSCO, International Organization of Securities Market Regulators. She was in two terms as Vice-President of the Inter-American Committee; and was also part of the IOSCO Board of Directors. It was the first time that Panama participated in the governing body in charge of setting standards worldwide.

She has been invited as a speaker and panelist at numerous national and international conferences on the securities market, compliance, corporate governance, gender parity, sustainable finance and issues related to financial markets in general.

Actively participates in organizations such as the Institute of Corporate Governance of Panama (IGCP), Women in Profession (WIP), Association of Directors of Panama (ADP). Proniñez Association of Panama. She is also an instructor at the Securities Education Program of Latin-American Securities Stock Exchange (LATINEX).

Activist in gender equality, she was a member of the National Council for Gender Parity.

She is also an independent director. She holds a Master of Business and International Law, LLM from Stetson University College of Law, Florida U.S.

At Berg Associates, she is a consultant in the areas of compliance, corporate governance for the financial sector.

Eduardo González Garay


Master of Laws from the University of London, King’s College.

With more than 30 years of experience, at Berg Associates, Eduardo Gonzalez Garay is a Consultant advising financial and fiduciary institutions, HNW individuals and families, on all aspects of asset planning, structuring and administration, including cross border corporate solutions, trusts, and Foundations. Other areas of expertise include regulatory compliance and corporate governance for companies and complex corporate vehicles.

Languages: Spanish, English, Italian and French

Paulina Franceschi


Holds a Doctorate in Microbiology from the University of Notre Dame in the United States. She is an academic, diplomat, and an excellent professional with a background in development and public policies.

As National Human Development Report Coordinator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Panama, Paulina Franceschi led the elaboration of three National Human Development Reports: Poverty (2002), Youth (2004), and Institutionality (2007-2008).

Subsequently, she became Academic Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate and Research at the Santa Maria La Antigua Catholic University (USMA) in Panama.

In 2014, Paulina Franceschi was appointed as Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations at the Panamanian UN Mission in New York. In 2015, she was appointed as Panama´s Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative of the International Organizations in Vienna.

At Berg Associates, Paulina Franceschi is an Associate Consultant in the area of CSR and Strategic Political Management.

Languages: Spanish and English

Miguel Cuéllar


He has held management positions in public institutions of the agricultural sector, in the fields of: Planning, Socioeconomic Studies, Administration and Finance. He is a consultant for international organizations: the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Cooperation (IICA), the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), and the United Nations Food Organization (FAO).

In the social development sector, he was Program Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in: Health, Education, Local Development, Water and Environmental Sanitation and as the Country Program Coordinator.

He has directed and accompanied the formulation of Strategic Plans for the United Nations (UN) in Panama, the Specialized University of the Americas (UDELAS), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the National Secretariat for People with Disabilities (SENADIS).

Miguel Cuéllar, is a teacher of masters and postgraduate courses in: Public Policy, Social Management, Strategic Planning and Formulation and Evaluation of projects.

At Berg, Miguel Cuellar is an Associate Consultant in Corporate Social Responsibility, Strategic Political Management, and Strategic Planning.

Luisa Turolla


Economist with four decades of experience in her professional career, with emphasis in public policies and competitiveness. Proven experience in strategic planning and a working group’s facilitator.

Luisa Turolla has assisted Board of Directors in economic and financial issues. She is a consultant in international commerce, regulation and competition, strategies for development, institutional strengthening, public finances and fiscal policies, both for private and public sector clients, as well international organizations such as the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, UNDP, and the World Trade Organization (WTO), among others.

She actively participates in private sector associations.

In Berg Associates, Luisa Turolla is Associated Consultant in the areas of CSR, Strategic Political Management.

Languages: Spanish, Italian and English.

Víctor M. Delgado Moreno


He is a professional with more than 20 years of experience in the legal and academic field, with experience in the private and public sector in Panama.

He has practiced his profession in different law firms in the areas of business, corporate, tax and commercial law, among others.

In the academic field, he served for 7 years as Dean of the Law School of Universidad Santa María La Antigua. He also managed the Law School of the Interamerican University of Panama.

In the period 2020-2022, he was the first Superintendent of Non-Financial Subjects of Panama, leading the creation and decentralization process of the entity, as well as the management of the areas of regulation and supervision.

He has led projects sponsored by international organizations such as the Inter-American Federation of Lawyers, Development Bank of Latin America CAF, USAID, among others.

He belongs to different organizations such as the Fulbright Scholars Association, the National Bar Association, Fundación Excelencia Educativa; and has participated in programs with the German Agency DAAD, among other organizations.

At Berg Associates, Victor Delgado is an Associate Consultant in the regulatory, compliance and training areas.

Languages: Spanish and English

Nora Jaén


Nora Jaén has over 40 years of corporate experience in technology, Internet and telecommunications companies. She brings with her knowledge to Berg Associates (Latam) a vision and dynamics of the national market and the region, organization and sales based on her trajectory in different leadership positions in companies such as IBM, Sinfonet, Cable & Wireless, and ADR Technologies.

She has been part of management groups and multidisciplinary consulting firms at the national and international levels, giving value to industries such as Human Resources and placing high-level management professionals in essential companies in the region.

Nora Jaén has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Panama, with diplomas in Sales Management and Customer Service; Mergers, Acquisitions and Corporate Spin-offs; Post-sales and Customer Loyalty; Personnel Selection Integrated to the Competence Management Model.

At Berg, Nora Jaén is an Associate Consultant in developing, marketing and selling e-learning products.

Languages: English and Spanish