The first Meeting of the Steering Committee for the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) South American Council on Infrastructure and Planning (COSIPLAN) was held on 28 April 2011 at Palácio Itamaraty, in Rio de Janeiro. COSIPLAN was established in August 2009, during the UNASUL presidential meeting, when it was decided that the Executive Committee of the South American Regional Infrastructure Integration Initiative (IIRSA) would be replaced by a Ministerial-level Council within the Union’s institutional structure. With this measure, the Member States aimed at assigning greater political support to the activities carried out in the infrastructure sector, so as to secure the necessary investments to execute priority projects.
The meeting was opened by the Minister of Planning, Budget and Management, Miriam Belquior, and was attended by the UNASUR Secretary-General-designate, María Emma Mejía; by the South American National Coordinators and by representatives of the region’s multilateral institutions (BID, CAF, FONPLATA and CEPAL).
The meeting opened a new stage for the debate on the region’s physical infrastructure integration. Progress was achieved in outlining a Strategic Action Plan for the next 10 years and in shaping an Agenda of Priority Projects, which will truly induce development.
Regional integration of physical infrastructure is one of the priorities of Brazilian foreign policy and one of the most important issues in the multilateral agenda of South American countries since IIRSA was established in 2000. IIRSA was planned as a venue for coordination and information exchange on infrastructure among the governments of the 12 countries in the region and in 10 years it developed a relevant work, with a portfolio of 520 projects, organized along Integration and Development Axes.