09 May 2013
Category : Interview
Juan López-Dóriga is the Director of the AECID (the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation). Between 2004 and 2008, he was the Spanish Ambassador in Guatemala and he subsequently took up the position of Director General of Planning and Evaluation of Development Policies (DGPOLDE) of the State Secretariat for International Cooperation.
– How has the international economic crisis influenced (and influences) the sector?
The map of cooperation has changed, but not only due to the crisis. There are new challenges, there is a constant transformation. The number of both donor and recipient countries has changed. Now, there are new state agents; one example being emerging countries such as China. We have moved to hyper-collective action, there are many more agents involved. In addition, there are now more challenges and there are new subjects on the agenda such as climate change. We are all aware that climate change can particularly affect the developing countries through droughts, the rise in sea levels, etc. We are already working on this but we need to put some initiatives into practice in the next cycle. And, finally, there are new instruments and innovative funding mechanisms.
– In addition, there is a new, emerging middle class, which can also exercise influence when it comes to formulating the new agenda
There is a traditional discussion: where are there more poor people? Some say that the largest number of poor people is in middle-income countries, while others believe that medium income countries can solve their problems themselves, whereas the poor people in the poorest countries have nowhere to turn to and our action must focus on them. There are also those who believe that what we are currently experiencing is only temporary, that, in the next 20 years, the situation will change a great deal. And I don’t believe in making generalisations. Latin America, for example, is not uniform. I spent 8 years of my life in Central America and we have to continue working there. The problem is not just poverty, we also have to work in other spheres such as security.
– How can cooperation be defended in times of crisis?
Essentially, there are two arguments. It is true that the economic situation is worse than a few years ago, for everyone, but through aid to development we are helping people who are much worse off than us, people who are at the very edge of survival. And, secondly, cooperation is one dimension of our country’s foreign intervention and there are problems which, if we do not tackle them now, will simply explode and it will be more difficult to resolve them in the future. There are clear examples such as migration, the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel, etc. Another example is our work in Latin America. If they are doing well, then so are we, due to the interests that Spain has in the region.
– People frequently talk about ‘economic diplomacy’, the ability of some institutions (such as the AECID or the FIIAPP) to use their expansion around the world to the benefit of the country’s economy Cooperation is a Brand in Spain and it is worth maintaining it.
The aim of cooperation is the fight against poverty, but cooperation also uses many resources which, in turn, generates business opportunities for Spanish companies. The more concrete initiatives on the ground, the more opportunities companies have to secure contracts.
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