Claudia Ruiz Massieu,
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Conference was created in 1991 when, because of the profound
transformations experienced in our region in the 1980s, Spain, Brazil and Mexico decided to advocate for the creation of a
forum that would bring the two shores of the Atlantic closer together in a
horizontal and collaborative spirit. At a meeting that year in the city of
Guadalajara (Mexico), the Heads of State and Government of 21 countries formally
committed to building a community of dialogue and cooperation.
Twenty-four years later, the Conference returned to Mexico,
marking the culmination of a process of renewal and the beginning of a new
cycle. Under the slogan "Education,
Innovation and Culture," the Ibero-American leaders gathered in
Veracruz in December 2014 to set a new course for the conference, based on
concrete educational, social and cultural goals.
Today, December 12, the first
meeting of Ibero-American Conference Foreign Ministers will be held in Cartagena, Colombia. The foreign
ministers from the 21 countries that make up this community have come together
to assess the degree to which the agreements reached in Veracruz have been
implemented. Halfway to the 2016 Summit,
we will undertake a comprehensive review of the robust framework of Ibero-American
At this meeting, we will set a course toward the 25th Ibero-American Summit to
be held in Colombia in late 2016 under the slogan "Youth, entrepreneurship and education." This
will give continuity to the Veracruz mandates but, above all, will put the 158
million Ibero-American youths who represent over one quarter of the population
on center stage.
We are happy that Colombia, an ally and strategic partner of
Mexico, is heading the efforts to strengthen cooperation among the member
countries of the Conference. In education, Ibero-America is a region of
contrasts. Our young people today are the most educated generation in our
history: 70% of those studying at the college level are the first generation of
their families to do so. At the same time, we have big challenges regarding completion
rates at the high school and college levels (59% and 10%, respectively).
In addition to working towards increasingly widespread and
inclusive access to education, the Ibero-American community faces the challenge
of providing quality education that is innovation-oriented and designed to meet
the specific needs of our societies. Hence the enormous importance of this
topic that will guide our efforts en route to the 2016 Summit.