09 May 2013
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.
19 April 2013
Today, we present César Seoánez Erkell. He is an insurance broker and he is working on a FIIAPP project in Turkey to prevent the contamination of water.
Name of the Project: IPPC – Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control
How long have you been in the country? 27 months
Why did you decide to pack your bags and collaborate with the FIIAPP abroad?
Because it was a very good professional opportunity, both because of the theme of the project and because of the working conditions, in an environment in which you collaborate with many people from different countries and you learn every day. I’d already had a similar experience on another Twinning project in Romania and it was very positive, which encouraged me to get involved with this project.
What is your job?
My main objective is to guarantee that the project achieves its goals, meeting the needs of the beneficiary Turkish institution. That means being a communication channel between the Turkish civil servants, fully understanding what needsthey have and what they want us to do, and the Spanish civil servants (and Polish in the case of this project), indicating to them precisely what is asked of them, providing them with the necessary information, coordinating their work and reviewing all the documents so that both sides are fully satisfied with the work done. The work also involves planning and adapting the activities according to the needs of all the parties involved.
What are the positive and negative aspects of working there?
Positive: getting to know another country, the people, other ways of working and tackling problems, making contacts.
Negative: the factors that are beyond our control and which are sometimes missing, such as the engagement, support and decision-making related to the proposals of the project by some at the senior levels of the Ministry.
Have you had any experience in cooperation before this project?
Yes, another Twinning project in Romania.
How would you define the experience?
Excellent, with a heavy workload, but excellent.
11 April 2013
Interview with Rebeca Grynspan: Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Associate Administrator of the UNDP
The2013 Human Development Reportreveals the “rise of the South” and the importance of human growth going hand in hand with economic growth.
Often, we create a false dichotomy between economic matters and human development. We believe that economic growth is necessary but not sufficient. Without investment in human capital, the sustainability of growth is doubtful. I think that countries such as Costa Rica or countries in Asia or Africa are doing very well because they have expanded the educational base in order to be able to sustain economic development.The expansion of the middle classes requires better governments, better services and better institutions.
One of the challenges presented by the report is climate change. Are the North and the South equally affected by this issue?
Climate change will affect the whole world, rich and poor. The difference is that the poorest countries, with more vulnerable groups, do not have the resources to adapt to climate change nor the strength to prevent natural phenomena from destroying the progress and improvement they have managed to make in recent years. It is not that developed countries do not have problems, it also affects them, but they have the investment. We have advocated social protection systems to protect the sectors which are most vulnerable to natural disasters. We have also advocated more international resources so that countries can adapt to these meteorological phenomena.
The rise of the South is changing the world and also the cooperation models. What role does a programme likeEUROsociAL, from the FIIAPP, play in the exchange of experiences and horizontal cooperation with Latin America?
There are countries with medium income levels that are living better than before but which still have many development challenges. They have a great need for horizontal cooperation, especially with regard to sharing knowledge and mobilising human resources. Of course, in that, EUROsociAL can do a great deal of good work.