Naciones Unidas

Planning for development in the 60 years of ILPES

The 1990s (1990-2000): The strategic management of the State

In early 1990, with Gert Rosenthal leading as Executive Secretary and Fernando Fajnzylber directing research, ECLAC submitted for consideration by the governments of the region the report Transformación productiva con equidad: la tarea prioritaria del desarrollo de América Latina y el Caribe en los años noventa (Productive transformation with equity: the priority task of Latin American and Caribbean development in the 1990s). This proposal and the thinking derived from it would permeate ECLAC's work during the 1990s and would have a significant impact on the ILPES training programme. The report presented a decanted version of the main lessons learned from the economic crisis of the 1980s and a proposal for the development of the countries of the region that would allow them to grow, improve income distribution, consolidate democratization processes, acquire greater autonomy, create conditions that would halt environmental deterioration and improve the quality of life of the entire population. The proposal called for the construction of a more democratic, pluralist and participatory State, capable of agreeing on a collective development agenda, and of formulating, coordinating and implementing public policies towards this end. These last propositions will influence ILPES' thinking on the functions of planning and strategic management of the State.

The year 1992 represents a turning point in the ILPES training program: the long ILPES courses came to an end and the first five-week and two-week courses began. At that time, training activities were reoriented towards strengthening public agencies linked to public policy formulation through a systematization and comparative analysis of economic reforms and the main aspects of public management in the countries of the region. It also aimed to strengthen public investment programming mechanisms and to create and improve project banks. In this new context, emphasis was also placed on training to promote greater institutional capacity to support sustainable development and local and regional development. In the latter field, two particularly emblematic courses were developed: Integrated Laboratory for the Design of Regional Strategies (LIDER) and Strategic Management of Local and Regional Development (GEDEL).

It is a period of more massive training programs, but also more specific and appropriate to the new times, when ILPES trains thousands of professionals, more than in all its previous periods, reaching more institutions and a wider diversity of them.


Flagship courses during the period

5 week courses: 

  • Economic Reforms and Strategic Public Management | 1992-2006 
  • Integrated Laboratory for the Design of Regional Strategies (LIDER) | 1992-1998 
  • Preparation and Evaluation of Local Development Projects | 1996 - 2002 
  • Strategic Management of Local and Regional Development (GEDEL) | 1998 - 2011   



The general objective of the training programmes during this period was to provide courses aimed at developing conceptual frameworks that would help to understand the socio-economic reality of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and technical training that would strenthen the capacity to analyse and formulate socio-economic development programmes and projects. In this sense, the central objective of the training programme was to generate a catalytic mechanism that would contribute to the development of two processes in Latin America: (a) reflection on the limitations and potentialities of social change and the development of original thinking in relation to the problems of development and planning; and (b) the incorporation of modern methods of analysis and management appropriate to the Latin American context in the sphere of government economic policy decisions.

Thus, the courses offered by the Institute were seen as a professional training activity rather than an academic one, and their fundamental characteristics were: 

  1. To contextualize this idea within its technical and political content - in the broadest sense of the term -. ;  

  1. To respect the comprehensiveness of the planning process, including various levels and decisional systems (global, regional, local, sectoral). ;  

  1. To view ongoing training as a social learning process through which each course constituted an input for the design of others and through which values, theories, methodologies, and strategies for action were adjusted, rejected, or accepted. ;  

  1. To develop the Institute's comparative advantages, so that training in specialized fields of development (e.g., industrial planning, rural development, employment, environment, etc.) would be carried out with the relevant specialized agencies;  

  1. To recognize the heterogeneous training and qualifications of the participants, the vast majority of whom came from public sector bodies in the different countries, so that the courses had to allow both the levelling and the acquisition of new knowledge;  

  1. To combine in the courses the theoretical analysis of the problems with their empirical dimensions as well as the need to structure the courses around a central idea that would make them organic. 

  1. To use ILPES advisory and research experience in the training courses, as well as to draw on the experience of the many ECLAC experts who collaborated in the courses.

This period saw the consolidation of a fundamental movement in the ILPES training approach, where the pedagogical methodology of learning-by-doing, linked to the real problems of the participants' world of work, became central to the methodology used, and was combined with the transmission of knowledge (the predominant approach of previous periods) and the development of competencies - in the sense of providing conceptual and methodological approaches that emphasize the delivery of knowledge, skills and behaviours - which gradually took on greater force in the pedagogy of the training program.     

Selected course programs from ILPES