Main Thematic Axis

Track 1: The Future of Employment in the 4th Industrial Revolution

The future of employment is being shaped by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, neuro-technology and smart materials. The rapid pace with which these innovations are being integrated into people's daily lives around the world has a direct impact on businesses and industries and a tangible effect on jobs: many jobs are created, eliminated and transformed every day; the quality of these jobs is mutating; and the knowledge and skills demanded by employers are adapting accordingly.

These changes further complicate the economic situation in Latin American countries where there are high levels of informal employment, underemployment and strong income inequality. The central theme of this problem is how Latin American countries respond to stimulate the development of inclusive market systems that help create more and better jobs for a growing population, especially for the large number of young people who are studying or working. This three-day theme brings together private sector industry leaders, donors, labor and economic development experts to explore "the future of employment" in Latin America and learn about successful models and tactics that apply in the region.

Rapid technological change and the evolution of industries in Latin America - industry voices

This session, through the "demand" perspective of Latin American industries and businesses, will explore disruptive technologies, digital trends and systemic changes on the horizon that are shaping the competitive landscape for industries in Latin America with significant implications for job creation and work. We will involve economists and business leaders in interactive sessions to discuss roadmaps for industries in Latin America and the work profiles they can create.

The effects of transformation on the socio-political landscape in America - systemic impacts

Through a socio-political lens, we will delve into the broader effects of technology-driven change experienced by industries and workers, as explored above, to better understand how they affect people's lives, the environment, and communities in Latin America. This session will cover pressing issues such as external migration, illicit economic activities, and political changes that in turn affect the performance and job creation by companies and industries. We will facilitate interactive sessions with industry, political, and social leaders to discuss business resilience issues and strategies in an increasingly volatile and uncertain context and their effect on employment.

Facing the challenge of employability - the modern worker

Through a human capital perspective, we will focus on how to equip workers with the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow's jobs. This session will explore the current thinking, practices, and examples of Latin America and how they are adapting to meet the changing needs of the industry. We will assemble a panel of experts representing market systems development and employability programs from multiple Latin American countries to discuss effective employment models, public-private initiatives, and training programs that are creating a workforce.

Track 2: Innovative Companies Using Disruptive Technologies to Transform Society
Led by Horizontal8

The 4th Industrial Revolution creates immense technological and organizational challenges for entrepreneurs, while opening up unique opportunities to drive profound socioeconomic transformations and protect the environment. This is true for large companies, but it is particularly true for small ones because 4th IR technologies are reducing barriers to entry and working capital volumes; they are also opening up new market niches, increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing between companies, and enabling small businesses to serve larger entities, at lower costs, across longer distances.

Who has not been inspired or astonished by young people coding for large companies from a marginalized neighborhood with a laptop and an Internet connection; small producers who coordinate their purchases and sales through mobile apps; marginalized producers who build a digital identity and access credit through blockchain; drones that reduce pesticide costs and dosages; and artificial intelligence that provides timely information to farmers so that they can prepare for pest outbreaks? These are just a few examples that we are seeing thanks to 4th IR technologies.

There are great challenges and risks that these technologies create for entrepreneurs. Many of their sources of income will be threatened; especially those based on repetitive activities that can be coded and turned into algorithms. For example, planting and harvesting crops, technical assistance, clothing and transport services. Other challenges relate to the cognitive level and raise questions such as: What knowledge and skills do entrepreneurs require? What organizational structures and processes are necessary for organizations of all sizes to take advantage of 4th IR technologies and remain competitive? How does the knowledge required to use these technologies affect employees psychologically and functionally?

At no other time in history have business, technology and knowledge been intertwined more intimately than in this emerging revolution. And yet, it has never been more obvious that these technologies are advancing much faster than our institutions and our ability to understand and use them to overcome urgent social and environmental crises.

In this thematic axis, we will explore how companies of different sizes are using or plan to use 4th IR technologies to stay competitive and make their markets more inclusive, productive, and efficient; what are the challenges they face in terms of staff selection, skills development, organizational learning, and culture; and what lessons they're learning. In addition, recognizing that companies do not operate in a vacuum, we will discuss how current policies and institutions affect the ability of entrepreneurs to make the most of the 4th IR and contribute to the achievement of the objectives and goals of sustainable development.

Track 3: Preparing Our Cities for the Future
Led by Swisscontact

Throughout history, cities have been an important engine for the growth and prosperity of societies. However, in Latin America, some cities are growing at such accelerated rates that they make their governance, mobility, food and energy security, and environmental sustainability difficult. Without the technological advances of the 4th IR it seems impossible to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. At the same time these advances are creating serious problems for social coexistence, mental health, and the stability of relations between government and citizens.

This topic will explore how the market systems approach can guide us towards opportunities for the most pressing development problems facing our cities, especially by looking at circular economies, mobility in modern urban economies, sustainable and secure construction and housing, and the new dynamics and connections between rural and urban development.

Some of the questions we will explore in this thematic axis are:

How can we transform our cities into circular economies?

  • What is a circular economy, what are its benefits and challenges?
  • What progress has been made in implementing circular economies in the region?
  • What are the main challenges in transforming an economy into a circular economy?
  • What is a good example of the implementation of the Inclusive Market Systems Development approach in a circular economy project?

How are AI-based solutions transforming our mobility?

  • Modern urban mobility: where are we in the region and what are the main challenges?
  • What solutions for modern urban mobility put artificial intelligence on the table? Is Latin America ready to adopt autonomous vehicles?
  • How are smartphones transforming urban mobility? What are the opportunities/challenges for the private sector in this new context? What is a good example for the implementation of the Inclusive Market Systems Development approach in an urban mobility project?

From precariousness to affordable safe housing, decent work and social innovation

  • How safe and affordable is housing for most urban dwellers in Latin America?
  • What are the main bottlenecks for the construction of safe and affordable housing in the region?
  • What are the ways to formalize the informal urban construction and housing sector?
  • What are the ways to professionalize unskilled workers in the urban construction and housing sector?
  • How can virtual simulators accelerate and drive learning?

Business models and technologies to bridge the gap between rural agricultural supply of smallholder farmers and urban demands

  • What are the current trends and challenges of smallholder market systems in Latin America and what can we expect for the future?
  • New business models to transform traditional agriculture into innovative and successful businesses that can meet new urban demands.
  • What are good examples for the application of new technologies in smallholder rural agriculture and urban markets?
    • Use of drones for biological pest control in agriculture.
    • Use of drones to measure the foliage coverage of cocoa plantation to define pruning needs, among other applications.

Further Information about Market Systems Development

Below, you will find interesting information about The 4th Industrial Revolution, which will help you have a better understanding of the impact on the Development of Inclusive Market Systems. This section will also place the event memory, as well as other relevant information.


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