• 14 October 2014

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    ”It’s impossible to talk about development and democracy without including women”

    Interview with Nava San Miguel, gender expert for the FIIAPP-Secretariat General of International Development Cooperation (SGCID)agreement.

    Next year will reveal which of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDO) have been achieved in 15 years of work. This initiative will have a second part: the Post-2015 Agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

    The backdrop for this second part is already in place and, in terms of gender, according to Nava San Miguel, one dual objective has already been achieved: the existence of a goal in this area in the SDG proposal to construct the Post-2015 Agenda and integration of the gender focus into the rest of the goals.

    Spain did its part to make this happen. With Nava San Miguel, we review the course of Spanish Cooperation in this area and its international commitment, which is mainly rooted in the two-pronged strategy, proposed back in 1995 by the Beijing Platform, of mainstreaming gender issues and undertaking specific actions to empower women.

    What type of cooperation is Spain pursuing in this area?
    Spanish cooperation includes gender equality as a defining characteristic in its development policy, and this is reflected in its last three master plans. In multilateral terms, Spain became the number one United National donor for gender issues such as UN Womenin the first years after its creation (2010), and has supported many gender projects in non-specific bodies, such as education for UNICEFand regional funds for ECLAC, supporting the gender observatory in Latin America for example. In Africa it has supported projects involving gender issues for the NEPADand the African Union. Also, in bilateral terms, we’ve supported many gender-focused subsidies and agreements, and specific gender projects, for NOGs… and we’re trying to ensure that there is a mainstreaming process in everything we do in the cooperation system.

    What does mainstreaming mean?
    That the issue of gender is integrated in everything done in Spanish cooperation— from policy definition to planning, management and assessment. We are working on different methodologies and processes like the Country Association Frameworks and, at the moment, are developing a mainstreaming manual for the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)for example. We’ve been working on this since the Second Master Plan, and the aim is to consolidate it in the current Fourth Master Plan for 2013-2016.

    And do these represent parameters to be followed in each of the countries we cooperate with?
    Yes, gender must be integrated into all Spanish cooperation instruments. To define the priorities with our partner countries, a series of guidelines have been created for integrating gender into the definition of the Country Association Frameworks (CAF) currently being applied.
    Within the Cooperation Council, there is a gender group responsible for making sure that any development policy document that comes before the council includes a greater gender perspective.

    What are Spain’s partner countries?
    The number has gone down considerably. There were 50 countries and now, with the cutbacks, the new master plan and a policy of geographic concentration will leave us with 23. Many Technical Cooperation Offices are being closed. Above all, we are in Latin America, North Africa and certain Sub-Saharan African countries; in Asia there are also cooperation projects in Vietnam and the Philippines.

    What line will the Post-2015 Agenda follow in this area?
    The most important thing is that we have achieved an international consensus to include a specific goal in the area of gender. In negotiations, this issue is always very complicated. In this case, since the beginning and to the surprise of almost everyone working on gender and development issues, almost no one questions the fact that gender equality and empowerment of women is essential for the development of any country. But the process will remain open until September of 2015.

    This issue was already present in the MDGs… what difference is there in the SDGs?
    In the first place, it took a lot of work to get it into the MDGs. The concept was not as well defined because people talked more about equality between men and women, and talking about gender equality and the empowerment of women is much more correct; and next, the gender focus was not mainstreamed in rest of the goals. To the point that in some of them, such as in issues related to sexual and reproductive health, sexual health was not even included. This was a goal that was achieved years later and in the wake of criticism from feminist and women’s organizations all over the world. At the moment, the debate is open, but the goals proposal includes that of integrating a goal on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, as well as the goal of universal health coverage.

    In these 15 years of work on the gender goal in the MDGs, what gives you the most satisfaction?
    The progress made in establishing equality mechanisms. They may be weaker or stronger, but great progress has been made in adopting them as a public policy and in defining regulatory frameworks in almost all the countries that have signed the major agreements and which ratify international regulations. Progress has also been made in education in the area of reducing the equality gap in education for girls. Nevertheless, despite having roadmaps like Cairo-Beijing, women’s inequality continues to be universal, and the defence of sexual and reproductive rights continues to be a problem and the major workhorse in gender issues. In issues related to violence against women, I believe there is a much greater awareness of the problem, although the statistics are still horrifying, and this continues to be the tip of the iceberg of a much harsher reality for women. Awareness has been raised in the world, gender has been given a more central place in discussions and there is a greater availability of information and programmes, and a clearer direction for moving forward in reducing violence. But there is still much left to be done in the issue of gender, and it’s impossible to talk about development and democracy without including women and building gender democracies.

    And how is this panorama of cutbacks being confronted?
    What we’ve tried to do is to consolidate gender as a priority in development policy, to learn, and bring together all that’s been learned in Spanish cooperation in this area, and then to make a proposal for a minimum progressive improvement in the area of gender issues in the Equal Opportunities Strategic Plan so that the mark of Spanish cooperation in this is not lost. In addition, Spain is advocating for this priority in the international context and, especially, in the process of constructing the Post-2015 Agenda.

    And where is Spain focusing its efforts then?
    The challenge in institutions remains, and in support for projects for real equality and for mainstreaming in the other sectors.

    In the situation you describe, what is the role of the FIIAPP in promoting the gender issue?
    I believe it is key. With the capacity this foundation has for managing European Union projects, it could contribute a great deal by mainstreaming the gender issue is its projects and obtaining specific gender projects, backed by the baggage and recognition Spain has achieved in gender and development in the work done by the SGCID and with the learning of the AECID and of Spanish cooperation overall. I believe it can play a fundamental and far-reaching role. The gender issue must be present in everything.

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  • 30 September 2014

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    “The healthcare reform supported by EUROsociAL was the largest in Urugay since 2005”

    Uruguay has shown a strong institutional commitment to the EUROsociAL Programme since the first phase. In this second phase, it is participating in the thematic areas of Education, Social Policies, Public Finance, Justice, Citizen Security and Health. Precisely in the latter, it is playing a dual role of bidder and beneficiary. To learn more about the reforms EUROsociAL is accompanying in the country, we interviewed Elena Clavell, Director General of Uruguay's Comprehensive Healthcare System.

    How would you characterize the reform of the healthcare system in Uruguay?

    The healthcare reform, along with the reform of the tax system, is considered the most important structural reform Uruguay has undertaken since 2005 to date. But, what’s more, it’s also the reform that has had the greatest redistributive impact.

    And how was this reform achieved?

    Before in Uruguay, constitutionally, the government only had the obligation to provide healthcare to indigents, and therefore it had a public hospital network and public services with very poor quality, almost in a state of neglect. Uruguay has not only made a strong investment in these public services but in turn has built a health insurance model based on contributions by citizens in proportion to income, by employers according to the size of their workforce, and by the government. This funding makes it possible to care for 75% of the population now, and in 2016 we will reach 80%.

    What types of coverage does this new health care system provide?

    They are related to the second major reform: a comprehensive healthcare system that includes all services and all medications, and which is mandatory at all healthcare centres. Universal coverage is guaranteed, including catastrophic care: transplants, cardiac surgery, oncology drugs and, in the case of HIV, anti-retrovirals.

    The other effort is focused on making healthcare more accessible and more equitable.

    In this reform process, we’ve considered implementing the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (HMO) and of the Rio+20 Conference for certain social determinants and their impact on the health of the population. One of the recommendations is to generate evidence, information that demonstrates the inequities and which makes it possible to review public accounts and have an impact on policy. While Uruguay has good indicators, they are still average, for example, for mortality. This system we’re developing with the support of EUROsociAL—the health equity monitoring system—is about showing that these good results still are problematic.

    And what role does EUROsociAL play in these reforms?

    Already in the first EUROsociAL phase, participating in the hospital governance group allowed us to see what others were doing and how they were doing it. This gave us a vision of other models, mainly that of Spain, but also of France and Italy, etc., to then look at which could be applied in our case.
    In EUROsociAL II we’ve had the opportunity to allow the health line to choose this equity monitoring system project for health policy as a pilot project. This has made it a fundamental engine of the reform, both from the conceptual discussion to the most direct advising during implementation.

    And what is the next step in the Programme?

    Our commitment to EUROsociAL is to spread the word about the project: there have been regional activities, meetings with countries in which we are showing how we do things, and we’re trying to transmit our enthusiasm about what it means to have a tool applicable to equity in health policies to other countries. We have some countries that are interested, such as Colombia, Costa Rica and, more recently, Peru. We are proud that EUROsociAL thinks we can transfer the methodology.

    How would you characterise this South-South experience  in the programme

    There’s a lot of talk about South-South Cooperation but, in reality, this cooperation requires a partner to help organize each part, because one of them knows what it’s doing and the other knows what it wants to do, but in the middle there is actually a cooperation methodology that we don’t have in Latin America. As we say in Uruguay: someone has to set the table so others can sit down to eat. EUROsociAL sets the table, generates the areas, the knowledge and the exchanges of experiences. And in the case of Uruguay and other Latin American countries that are starting to become middle-income countries, and therefore no longer just recipients of direct development cooperation efforts, EUROsociAL gives us the “know-how” of doing cooperation, the “know –how” of transferring knowledge.

    And is there some other added value that you’ve received from EUROsociAL?

    EUROsociAL has given us something that’s very important for us, which is human capital. In both the first and this second phase, we’ve made friends for the country and for the healthcare system through which we exchange information, publications, visits, experiences, etc., and this is very important for us.

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  • 23 September 2014

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    “Azerbaijan is a country that is making a significant effort in maritime legislation”

    Interview with Fernando Collado, Resident Adviser of the "Improving maritime safety and protection of the marine environment" project being led by the FIIAPP in Azerbaijan.

    Azerbaijan, which controls 9,500 ships and manages 35 million tonnes of marine traffic, is currently in full swing with the renovation of its maritime legislation system. This country has already signed 26 of the 64 treaties established by the International Maritime Organization, but that doesn’t mean its legislation is operating under the international framework. There is an intermediate step between this declaration of intent and its implementation: adaptation of the legislative system it inherited from the former Soviet Union. The European Commission (EC) has joined this effort of Azerbaijan by financing a project managed by the FIIAPP which aims to improve the country’s maritime safety and protect the marine environment. We spoke to the FIIAPP expert sent to coordinate the project on the ground, Fernando Collado. We immerse ourselves in the Azeri coasts to understand this work.

    Why does Azerbaijan need to pursue this project?

    The goal is to increase maritime traffic, and this makes it necessary to adapt its legislation to these standards. Here the maritime administration is very young (2006), but, despite this, it has 26 signed International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions, putting it at the level of Brazil and Argentina, and, since we’re talking about the European framework, it has more than even Austria. Azerbaijan is a country that is making a significant effort in maritime legislation. We are here to help them develop all of this legislation that they need so that all of these conventions they’ve signed are reflected in their own national legislation with tools to enable them to control emissions and spills or impose penalties, for example. With the entry of Poland, Hungary and other countries into the EU, the European Union discovered that twinning projects were a very good tool for collaboration, especially at the legislative level. What this project does is to amend the existing legislation and generate new legislation based on the criteria of the legal framework of the European Union.

    Does it also have a preventive aspect for the population?

    Yes. In what is the equivalent of the Spanish Official State Gazette here, we’ve already published the Ports Act, approved in June of this year, and, with respect to the Merchant Marine (marine traffic), we have this ready and we’re working on the local equivalent of Spain’s Royal Decrees, Regulations, Ministerial Orders, etc. Although, until this is published in their Official State Gazette, they will not have a powerful tool for controlling spills, polluting emissions, inappropriate conduct, etc. Moreover, if they don’t do anything else, it will remain somewhat toothless. In other words, we’re going to have all the legislation to be able to do things, but there won’t be an administrative enforcement part. We’re going to have the tools to require people to do things a certain way, but then there won’t be a way to penalize those that don’t comply. As soon as this legislation exists, this will translate into a situation where those who pollute will have to pay and will be penalized, and this will be reflected in the cleanliness of the beaches and of the water. It must be remembered that petroleum facilities and traffic are absolutely compatible with citizen enjoyment of the coasts.

    How are the waters of Azerbaijan?

    Curiously, there are zones that are very clean despite being in ports used exclusively for crude oil traffic, while there are other zones that are not, where you see the pollution perfectly. There is no absolute guarantee that all the beaches one might want to visit will be completely clean.

    What has the Ports Act meant?

    It must be remembered that here the legislation in place was from the former Soviet Union. When this country became autonomous, independent, what was left was a sort of patchwork. They had a maritime code, but this didn’t reflect all the possible situations of modern, global traffic in coordination with the entire international community. For this reason, starting in 2006, when this Maritime Administration was created, they started to enter into all these IMO conventions and to take on the commitment to place the country on the forefront at the legislative level.

    Azerbaijan is a major exporter of crude oil. Does this also influence its interest in increasing its maritime traffic?

    Yes, the port they’re building now, with the size of the port of Barcelona, can become an extremely important port in the area. The one they have now, comparable to Gijón’s, is very old. This initiative demonstrates Azerbaijan’s interest in modernizing and doing things within the international framework.

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  • 28 August 2014

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    “EUROsociAL helps us design public policies to address problems in our countries”

    Interview with Thelma Aldana, Attorney General of the Republic of Guatemala, Head of the Public Prosecutor's Office.

    The Attorney General of the Republic of Guatemala and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Thelma Aldana,  opened the Second Annual EUROsociAL Programme Meeting in Antigua, Guatemala. Taking advantage of her presence, we asked her to answer our questions about the work of EUROsociAL in the country, and specifically about the cooperation between the European Union and Latin America in the eradication of violence against women.

    -. What would you highlight about the cooperation between the European Union and Latin America and, specifically, that of EUROsociAL in Guatemala?

    -. The support of the EU and EUROsociAL is extremely valuable for my country and for the different States of Latin America because we have weight in social cohesion and, among other issues, the fight against poverty. The joining of the forces of the different Latin American nations with the cooperation of EUROsociAL, from its methodology of best practices and knowledge transfer, helps us design public policies that address the problems in our countries.

    -. At this Programme Meeting, the fight against gender violence has an important role. You, as the Attorney General of the Republic, are very familiar with the policies designed to end this social scourge. What can you tell us about this? 

    -. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak publically, I remind people that Guatemala, unfortunately, is number two in the world in terms of gender violence and that, although important efforts have been made to incorporate women into the economic, political and social orders, we still have an outstanding debt to the women of our countries, especially those of Guatemala.

    -. What progress is being made in Guatemala?

    -. In 2008 Guatemala approved the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women. As a result of the entry into force of this Law, femicide and sexual, psychological and economic violence against women were classified as crimes. It marks a milestone in this country’s history, a before and after, because before 2008, violence against women was seen as natural, as a very minor and simple infraction that was not judged in the country’s courts. After 2008, specifically in 2010, Guatemala promoted specialized justice with a focus on gender by creating courts specialized in femicide and violence against women, as well as prosecutors’ offices for women’s issues, also specialized in criminal investigation of these crimes.

    -. How is the work with the European Union to join forces in this struggle coming along?

    -. We hold various meetings with Latin American countries, and we share experiences and best practices to fight for the women of our countries as a block and, of course, we count on the support of the European Union. This support in the particular case of Guatemala is handled through the coordinating agency for modernization of the justice sector, which is made up of the Judicial Body, the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Governance and the Institute for Public Criminal Defence, through a grant to each of these institutions which also includes an axis for combating violence against women.

    -. How much is left to be done?

    -. We have a long road ahead of us for the women of our countries to have a life free of violence and a life project that allows them to act in society as citizens, remembering that respect for the human rights of women is another face of democracy.

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  • 13 August 2014

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    “Jordan’s problems with renewable energies are similar to those overcome by Spain”

    Interview with David Poza, Resident Adviser for the electricity and renewable energies project being led by the FIIAPP in Jordan and technician at Instituto para la Diversificación y Ahorro de Energía (IDAE).

    Jordan has barely enough natural resources to satisfy the energy needs of its nearly eight million inhabitants, factories and businesses. This is so much the case that its energy production is 96% dependent on imports, especially of crude oil and natural gas. The Jordanian government is trying to put an end to this situation by strengthening its National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and, one of the tools it has for doing this is a project financed by the European Union and managed by the FIIAPP. The Foundation staff member coordinating it on the ground, David Poza, explains Jordan’s situation and its immersion in renewable energies in this interview.

    What led Jordan to request this project?

    In the general framework of agreements between the European Union and Jordan, the energy sector is key. Jordan’s need to have a more efficient system for its electrical grid, to reduce its dependence on other countries and to introduce renewable energies led Jordan to request this project from the European Union.

    The energy Jordan produces is 96% dependent on imports of crude oil, natural gas, electricity… Will this percentage go down with this project?

    The project is going to contribute to them managing their system efficiently. The Jordanian government has a plan for the next two years that consists of introducing renewable energies and buying liquefied gas on the market in Aqaba. By doing so, they aim to reduce the cost of electricity. Jordan has a problem that is very similar to Spain’s: the electric bill doesn’t cover the full cost of the electricity. In the end, NEPCO (the power company for which we are carrying out the project, the equivalent of the Spanish Electrical Network, REE) pays what the consumer isn’t paying, adding to its debt. And, as it’s a public company, this is adding to the country’s debt. So, looking more at five-six years, they will continue introducing renewables and opt for other types of measures to continue reducing the cost of electricity; among other things, they are considering a nuclear power plant.

    Another objective is to improve the strategic planning, management and efficiency of NEPCO… What are the strong points of this system?

    We have to keep in mind that the Jordanian electrical system is small if we compare it, for example, to that of Spain. The peak demand in Spain is 45,000 megawatts, and in Jordan it’s 3,000. That’s 15 times lower than in Spain. With the introduction of renewable energies and improvement of their grid, they’re going to need support and to change their model. The points to be strengthened in their system involve moving from a manual system to an automatic one, which means introducing new software that will facilitate the work and training NEPCO personnel so that they know how to confront these changes.

    And this consists of training, which we are providing…

    This is a Twinning project. It means sharing Spain’s experience in this area with the Jordanian technicians. Spain is sharing its experience with Jordan and, at the same time, the Jordanians are getting an idea of how to solve the problems they’re going to be facing. But, no doubt, there are also training activities, and these are focused on these points I just mentioned.

    What are the renewable energies that the country will be in the best position to develop considering that it is a country with limited resources…

    In the case of Jordan, they have a good attitude towards solar power, especially photovoltaic, and wind power. Regarding solar power, thermoelectric is not being ruled out, but it isn’t as well suited as photovoltaic because of problems with water and gas.

    What else is Spain contributing to the project?

    What Spain is contributing is its experience and its know-how, as it is a leader and pioneer in the integration of renewable energies in the REE. And Spain has similarities with Jordan with respect to its electrical grid: the connections it has with other countries, that it is considered an energy island… In a way, Jordan’s problems with renewable energies are similar to the ones overcome by Spain several years ago. So, Spain is contributing the experience of how we solved problems that are similar to the ones they now have to solve.

    In terms of benefits, what will be the final benefit to the country and its citizens?

    It will have significant repercussions. Jordan is a country that has practically no natural resources. It’s not just a question of water, food or oil. For example, 20% of the country’s GNP is dedicated to purchasing from other countries what they need to produce energy. So this project is going to contribute to them having greater political independence from the countries in the region; it will reduce their energy spending; and they will be able to invest what they save on other things, such as social and economic issues. Lastly, there is also the reduction in the cost of electricity. Companies will be able to be more competitive and invest more in the country, and consumers will save money if the Jordanian government decides to reduce their bill.

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  • 28 July 2014

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    “Security actually has increased in Latin America”

    Interview with Javier Albaladejo, Head of the International Cooperation Division of the National Police Force (CNP).

    He began his career with the FIIAPP in the 90s, when the Foundationcreated police cooperation twinning projects with Bulgaria and Slovakia. He states that this institution is a “reference partner” for the European Commission (EC) and that it helps Spain be awarded cooperation projects. In this interview, Javier Albaladejo reviews the present and future of the CNP and the FIIAPP, also of the EU and, specifically, he talks about security in Latin America and the FIIAPP-led AMERIPOL-EU projectto combat cocaine routes.

    What most concerns you now about the level of security in Spain, and where are you focusing your efforts in international cooperation?

    International cooperation has various aspects. The first is operational cooperation for improving one’s own security levels, thereby confronting any common crime threats we may have in the international community. Here, organized crime and jihadist terrorism are clearly the main threats. There is also another part, which is cooperation in area of technical assistance and training of other states, which is based more on the principle of solidarity and of countries helping other countries. In this, the Spanish police is also developing some very important international cooperation systems.

    Where is the Spanish police now focusing its international cooperation objectives, and where is its work with the FIIAPP heading?

    The joint work of the Spanish police with the FIIAPP is basically oriented towards European Union projects. Another thing is EU projects with third states. From there, we have very diverse cooperation mechanisms. We collaborate with the FIIAPP in two geographical areas: Latin America in general is a strategic target, while Africa as a continent is not so much a target, although certain countries have special importance for Spanish police cooperation. For example, there is a privileged relationship with Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt, Syria, Libya…, especially in terms of monitoring the evolution of what is happening in the region, because, from the standpoint of security, this is key for us.

    What is the commitment of the European Union in the fight against organized crime in Latin America?

    The European Union has been working for years now on helping the countries of Latin America fight organized crime in general and, especially, in the fight against illegal drug trafficking. There are multiple forums where coordinated work is being done, and within this general framework is the EU project with AMERIPOL, which has been led by a Spanish police official. We are very satisfied with the results. In fact, we are thinking about trying to obtain funding from the EU for a second phase of the project that would enable us to involve more states in the zone in the project and expand activities beyond drug trafficking to include computer crime and organized crime.

    The tremendous economic growth occurring in Latin America in recent years has not led to an increase in security…

    Security actually has increased in Latin America, but you can only see this if you compare the current statistics with the previous ones. If we apply European security standards to this region of the world, there is a difference no doubt, as crime rates there are higher. But in their original context, their security is getting better and better. This is a gradual process.

    Where does the focus need to be placed to keep reducing crime?

    On prevention. And there, economic, sociological and cultural conditions are a fundamental factor. When a society has experienced armed conflicts, the value of other people’s right to life is really diminished from an ethical standpoint. Colloquially we tend to say that ‘life has no value’. Then there is a social context that has to be considered, and an economic context, that must allow greater development of Latin American societies. I hope that their growth in recent years translates into measures for improving the standard of living of the people who live in these societies. Crime doesn’t go down only because of the actions of the police or judges but also as a result of the creation of socio-economic conditions that allow the potential of people inclined to commit criminal acts to progressively diminish.

    What do you think will be the direction of EU development cooperation policy for Latin America following the latest changes in the European Parliament?

    There is a high degree of policy agreement in the European majority parties and, therefore, I don’t think there will be significant changes in these policies. In fact, I expect them to grow.

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