07 April 2022
El territorio donde nace cada persona influye en las oportunidades y en los retos que tendrá que afrontar a lo largo de toda su vida. Costa Rica acaba de aprobar una Ley de Desarrollo Regional para reducir las brechas territoriales en el país con el apoyo de la FIIAPP a través del programa de cooperación EUROsociAL+.
Nine years in legislative terms is nothing. But this time it is the time that lasted a process that led to a State Policy on the territory that will probably change the lives of Costa Ricans. This is its history. In 2013, the Costa Rican Ministry of Planning submitted a request to the EUROsociAL program aimed at the elaboration of Regional Development Plans with the objective of reducing the significant asymmetries and territorial gaps existing in Costa Rica. These plans were intended to influence the formulation of the National Development Plan, which was in the making at the time. However, the implementation of the Regional Development Plans not only activated a decisive regionalization process, but also significantly boosted the institutionalization of a Regional and Cohesion Policy in the country, with budgetary allocations and specific actions to address territorial gaps and the challenge of equity.
The territory where you are born should not mark your destiny
Since then, Costa Rica has focused on this policy with a national approach, but with the regions as protagonists to strengthen democratic coexistence, social stability and economic growth. The region, as a subnational space, has simultaneous proximity to the local and national levels, and is the ideal place to generate synergies between the two spheres through the adoption of combined approaches.
In short, there was a firm commitment that the territory where one was born should not determine the destiny of its people. People had greater or lesser opportunities and greater or lesser access to public services depending on the region in which they lived. It was not the same to live in the Central Region, which is the most industrially developed, as in Huetar Norte or Huetar Caribe where the infant mortality rate increased substantially or where job opportunities were comparatively reduced¹.
Costa Rica is a country with a history of citizen participation; however, citizens have complained that their involvement in decision-making is limited. This, in addition to the fact that the population, especially those living in areas far from the center of San José, feels a great distance from public institutions, which makes access to services more difficult and, ultimately, leads to greater disaffection with the public sector².
Accompanying a State policy
EUROsociAL+ has been accompanying this process, giving it continuity throughout two presidential mandates (of different political color) and today celebrates that this policy is materializing as a State policy, where Executive and Legislative go hand in hand to try to improve people’s lives, providing solutions from the bodies closest to the citizens. But perhaps the most important thing is that, at a time when it seems that what separates us weighs more than what unites us, the political representatives of different forces, working together, have supported a bill that will probably mark a turning point in improving the conditions and quality of life of the entire population.
Experiences drawn from European regional policy
Experiences such as the European Regional Policy itself, which has had a very positive impact on territorial cohesion and the development of European regions in all countries, or that of the Spanish Congress and Senate, which together with its Ministry of Territorial Policy³ were part of an exchange with Costa Rican parliamentarians, or the experience of Chile’s SUBDERE, inspired the essence of this Law in Costa Rica.
The approval of the Law marks a new stage not only in regional planning in Costa Rica: it also entails a renewed public governance that is key in the post-COVID recovery and reconstruction phase. The regional development process it promotes must intensify and deepen relations of equality between men and women, generating equal opportunities and rights (Art. 4). The creation of the Regional Development Agencies (AREDES) will guarantee that the decision making of the projects to be financed will come from the citizens themselves. And the institutions will be obliged to have a reliable presence in the regions, ensuring proximity to the people, wherever they live.
By Bárbara Gómez Valcárcel, head of Territorial Development of the EUROsociAL+ program at the FIIAPP.
About the Regional Development Law (10.096)
- (1) MIDEPLAN with information from ENAHO, INEC. (2) MIDEPLAN with information from MEP. Directorate of Management and Quality Evaluation. (3) MIDEPLAN with information from the register of vital statistics, INEC. (4) Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER).
- Latinobarómetro 2020: https://www.latinobarometro.org/latContents.jsp
- At the time Ministry of Territorial Affairs and Public Function.
10 March 2022
Posteado en : Sin categorizar
On February 24, the worst predictions were confirmed, also for the FIIAPP team in Ukraine, which has been working there since 2010. This has been reported in Computerworld
On February 24, the worst forecasts were confirmed, also for the FIIAPP team in Ukraine, which has been working there since 2010, currently with the projects “Strengthening the State Aviation Administration” and “Supporting e-Government and Digital Economy in Ukraine”.
Adrian Perez, from the EU4DigitalUA project, told the FIIAPP team that “we continue with our commitment and work to move forward with the project and thus contribute our bit to Ukrainian society”. So much so that Computerworld has echoed the importance of the European project co-led by the FIIAPP, and has talked to us about how the country’s digital future could be diminished after the tough situation in which it is immersed. Its manager, Pablo Ródenas, tells us about it.
08 March 2022
Sonia and Peggy work in the area of Public Administration and Social Affairs (APAS) at FIIAPP. Part of their work consists of promoting specific equality policies in the world. They also strive to integrate a gender perspective in each of the norms, laws and social policies they promote. A few days ago, in the coffee space in the office, they reflected on the concept of EQUALITY, in its external but also internal dimension, making self-criticism and pointing out the pending challenges in the organisation
We are two professionals working in international cooperation and we are two parents. Not always in this order. In fact, almost always the other way around. We both work at the FIIAPP, and one of our functions is to encourage actions that promote greater equality between women and men. We are working to ensure that the adoption of the gender approach in our institution is not merely rhetorical and that we move on to effective implementation. In the FIIAPP, there are many of us.
Although we are women, our awareness of this issue has been progressive and parallel to the fact that, on a personal level, we have been suffering more explicitly from these disadvantages and inequalities, and we have realised that the causes that provoke them are not so easy to confront and transform. Because these causes are so little visible, pernicious, anchored in everyday life, so deeply rooted in social and organisational culture that it is difficult to move the lines.
On the occasion of 8 March, we challenged each other on the gender approach. We wanted to provoke a face-to-face meeting, a vis a vis, without intermediation, and without it being a 5-minute coffee between two colleagues and friends who, taking advantage of a break, make a disclaimer. It is necessary to verbalise, it is necessary to make visible, it is necessary to share and it is necessary to stop and think. That is what we invite you to do.
According to the RAE, to focus means to direct attention or interest towards an issue or problem. What we try to do with our work: to focus public policies towards gender equality. The RAE also says that it is to bring the image of an object produced in the focus of a lens into sharp focus. Therefore, we have to equip ourselves with special lenses that allow us to analyse in order to understand the system in which women and men are embedded.
Sonia: At what point did being a feminist become meaningful to you? I mean when have you become more aware of the inequalities that women have to face?
Peggy: I was born in France. I grew up in a rural, mountainous, humble environment, and was lucky enough to ride the worn-out social lift, to take advantage of the welfare system and to exemplify the misnamed meritocracy. But my journey was an exception, and I saw that what Pierre Bourdieu had identified in the 1960s as the social and cultural reproduction of inequalities was still a reality. In this sense, my prisms for reading inequality had always been economic, social and cultural. I had not yet put on the gender lens. The turning point came with motherhood. Motherhood puts the issue of care at the centre of your life, as it does at other moments throughout the life cycle. And with it, two other issues that generate invisible inequalities: the question of the use of time and the question of mental workload. These inequalities manifest themselves most strongly in the domestic sphere, but end up having repercussions in the work sphere as well. Adaptation of the timetable, greater productivity, minimisation (or invisibilisation) of the space for care, management of the work and family agenda… saturated minds, tired bodies… From that moment on, I began to approach and read many situations through the lens of gender, and of the differentiated treatment and impacts between women and men. I think that when my daughter was born, my feminism was born too.
Related to this, do you think that gender equality is still a political or party political choice? It is striking that in democratic societies it is questioned whether fighting discriminatory treatment, lack of opportunities or violence against women should be a public objective that falls under the responsibility of any state.
Sonia: Indeed, the equality of women and men is a universal principle enshrined in the constitutions of contemporary democracies and in the most important international human rights texts. But gender inequality, to a greater or lesser extent, persists today all over the world and numerous empirical evidences show that these inequalities, moreover, are obstructing the progress and social and economic development of countries. A state must be on the side of rights. Therefore, gender equality policies should be state policies. It is true that in recent times conservative forces have popularised the expression “gender ideology”, based on misrepresentation and misinformation, and shielded by a discourse in defence of children and the family. But we are not talking about dogmatic issues: what the gender approach does is to provide us with certain analytical tools to better understand social reality. It provides us, as we said before, with lenses or glasses without which it is difficult to analyse the differentiated impact of any event on men and women, and to adopt measures that take into account the specificities of women.
We are certainly moving forward, but fast enough, how do you see it in your particular area of work, and would you like to go faster?
Peggy: Obviously in the APAS area we have a more favourable scenario to address gender gaps. By supporting social policies (equality, employment, social protection and care, health, education) we act on the mechanisms that resolve equality issues. On the other hand, by accompanying the modernisation of the state, public innovation, or multilevel governance, we can work on the design of an inclusive institutional framework that takes into account specific needs linked to equality gaps in institutions and territories. But the other areas of the FIIAPP also accompany the equality agenda: gender budgeting, the fight against climate change, productive development, inclusive justice, attention to women victims of trafficking, etc. In recent years, I believe there have been important advances. Several programmes have developed mainstreaming strategies and toolboxes, including EUROsociAL+, EUROclima, El PAcCTO, Bridging the Gap, Convivir sin discriminación or COPOLAD, to name a few.
However, we still have a long way to go. In some internal reflections we have discussed some challenges. The first of these is the need for a mainstreaming strategy. The second is training, for all staff. The third challenge, although perhaps the first because of its importance, is the need to clearly define the space we want to give to equality in the institution: do we want it to be a strategic principle of action for the FIIAPP? can we demand that all programmes incorporate this perspective and be accountable for their actions to improve equality? can equality be a conditionality in our dialogue with partner countries? and with our public administrations? Depending on where we place our compass, we will be able to address gender equality in greater or lesser depth.
One issue that is much debated is whether to opt for gender mainstreaming or for specific actions. From your experience in EUROsociAL, which is the most relevant strategy?
Sonia: I would say both, and I’ll explain. Gender mainstreaming aims to analyse the differentiated impacts on men and women. It is a transformative approach that focuses on relational differences, challenging both genders. This implies extending the approach to all sectors of public policy, including all state actors. However, we should not neglect specific actions aimed at women. To do so would mean weakening the institutional framework for women, i.e. the mechanisms for the advancement of women, and neglecting policies to promote equal opportunities that have had positive effects in correcting women’s disadvantages in relation to men. On the other hand, mainstreaming has the challenge of intersectionality, insofar as inequalities are multidimensional, how to address the interaction of sex and gender, with race, social class, territory or other categories of differentiation in people’s lives or in social practices. We would say that it aims to go beyond the transversality that starts from male-female inequality, to address those other characteristics/identities whose convergence/interaction produces structural situations of exclusion or vulnerability. A clear example: the rate of gender violence among immigrant women has increased considerably in recent years. How do we tackle this problem?
I would like to raise another issue, perhaps self-critically. We see that discourse and practices are not always in line with the promotion of pro-gender equality in international development. Of course, the FIIAPP is an institution in which the majority of us are women, and this has contributed to its policies of conciliation and co-responsibility, and in which the highest management body is occupied by women. However, there is still much to be done to incorporate the gender perspective into the organisational culture.
Peggy: To change culture it is essential to change structures, frameworks, and to push “from the top”. But sometimes the push comes “from below”. In the FIIAPP, there has been a strong push for equality from the programmes, and from the people committed to the issue. For example, in order to draw up the first equality plan, a gender group was formed, made up of trained professionals who were sensitised and willing to improve the approach to equality in the foundation. Intense collaborative work was carried out, accompanying the institution to achieve a plan that responds to two dimensions: the internal one, to promote equality within the institution, and the external one, to rigorously incorporate the gender perspective in all the projects we manage. We have to work on both dimensions. The internal one affects the strategy, communication, HR, service contracting processes, the information system, data analysis, etc. The external one affects the cycle of dialogue, formulation and management of projects and knowledge. Drawing up the Equality Plan has been an important milestone, but it is not enough. Its implementation in 2022 must mark a firm step towards prioritising gender equality in the FIIAPP.
Democratic Governance Coordinator at FIIAPP
Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs at the FIIAPP
24 February 2022
The Country Round Tables are an instrument for dialogue between a government and the EU to define the lines of action of European cooperation projects horizontally and according to demand
Education, health, justice, security, employment. How many sectors can fit into a country’s public system? How can these public systems be strengthened? Where should efforts be directed? What should be prioritised? How can we ensure that our cooperation is as effective and consistent as possible?
The FIIAPP’s mission is to strengthen public systems through international cooperation between public institutions, but what use are all these efforts if there is no consensus to give them meaning? Answering these questions is essential to FIIAPP.
For governments, public institutions, the European Union, European cooperation programmes and the implementing agencies of the programmes to answer these questions, the FIIAPP is organising the Country Round Tables ( #MesasPaís ).
Country Round Tables, a materialisation of the #PolicyFirst principle
What is the point of making huge investments if they are not based on a cohesive roadmap ? In other words, what is the point of spending €10 million building schools if the Ministry of Education does not have public policies that ensure a quality educational system and the Ministry of Inclusion does not guarantee a tolerant and respectful environment in schools? When it comes to cooperation, what use is all the effort if there is no interministerial strategy that gives it meaning?
“what use is cooperation without interministerial consensus in countries? “
The Policy First principle is an emerging concept in foreign action and European development cooperation based on prioritising dialogue on public policies. “It establishes mechanisms that facilitate policy dialogue with partner countries to steer programming and implementation of Team Europe‘s cooperation actions […] building shared political responses to global challenges ” explains Tobias Jung, director of Strategy and Communication at the FIIAPP.
In line with this strategy, the FIIAPP has promoted the Country Round Tables.
Continuous dialogue within governments
The Country Round Tables are promoted by the FIIAPP and framed in European cooperation programmes such as EUROsociAL+ and EUROCLIMA+. They are meetings of representatives of the main public bodies of a country and EU institutions, their cooperation programmes, public financial entities and the EU member states.
They are convened by the European Union and assisted by the FIIAPP, and are designed to identify country needs and draw up a roadmap to face the main challenges existing in the territory. It is a horizontal dialogue from which the strategic lines of the public technical cooperation projects (modality of cooperation between public institutions) emerge, which are then used by the partner country institutions to design and implement public policies.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recognised FIIAPP’s effort to create the Country Round Tables:
“The Country Round Tables have proven effective for developing joint responses to crises such as COVID-19, and in advancing the Team Europe approach”, they explain in the report where they recognise the work of the Round Tables.
The COVID-19 Round Table initiative
COVID-19 has shown us that pandemics and their associated crises require a rapid, coordinated and, above all, global response to protect people and counteract the social and economic consequences felt all over the world.
In May 2020, following the “Working Better Together” approach, the European Commission launched a pilot exercise called COVID-19 Round Tables led by the Delegations of the European Union in Argentina, Costa Rica and Ecuador in collaboration with the governments of each of these three countries. This initiative worked for several months to identify the demands derived from the health emergency, in order to prioritise them in a joint exercise with the government of the partner country to channel the response of the European actors in a structured and coordinated manner according to the capacities and speciality of each actor.
Giving all institutions a voice
At this point, I will go back to the question I started with and the answer is obvious : what use is cooperation without interministerial consensus in countries? Not much, which is why at FIIAPP we will continue to use tools for dialogue and listening that give all institutions a voice.
Cristina Blasco, technician from the department of
Communication and Strategy at the FIIAPP
11 November 2021
The Pandora Papers scandal shows the need for public policies to act as an enforcer in the prevention of tax fraud
It would have been more difficult today for Zeus to ensure Pandora kept her box closed. Not so much for her and her insatiable curiosity as for the almost definitive conquest by mortals of the right to information. Transparency laws, which guarantee the right of people to knowledge, are increasingly becoming the spearhead of the modern rule of law in many countries. Not only can police and prosecutors ask questions – everybody has the means to inquire on where public money is spent and how the state’s coffers are being filled, with an ever greater direct voice when deciding the destination of some of these funds. This can only be good for democratic governance.
Information, this time released by journalistic research, is power. Beyond the “black lists” of tax evaders, the debate on the legality versus legitimacy of fiscal planning to pay less taxes and on the duty of politicians and public figures to set an example, information is a very powerful tool to create fair tax systems and shut off access to tax evasion.
In Latin America alone, this phenomenon siphons off US$325 billion a year from state coffers, 6.1% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product. This represents approximately a quarter of these countries’ tax revenueand is an important squeeze on public system funding and wealth redistribution policies. It is not merely a question of cash, but also the volume and quality of the public services we receive and, ultimately, of social cohesion.
Through our work, I have seen first-hand the progress that has been made at a global level in terms of international cooperation in the fight against tax havens, especially in Latin America. Examples of this are the 2018 Punta del Este Declaration, a Latin American initiative designed to maximise the potential of the effective use of the information exchanged under international standards of fiscal transparency, the rules for the Exchange of Information on Request, which allow tax administrations to obtain specific information from counterpart authorities in other jurisdictions and the Automatic Information Exchange, which requires financial institutions to pass on all information that is in their possession regarding financial accounts opened by non-residents to the corresponding tax administration. However, the reluctance of certain countries to adhere to international standards and the fact that some territories have made lax regulation not only a lucrative business, but the very reason for their existence, tend to slow the pace of progress in the fight against tax fraud. This escape route has to be covered through public policies and international cooperation.
At the same time, it is essential to continue to make progress in the application of laws regarding access to public information, which are causing a veritable information revolution. Digitalisation could also have positive implications for tackling this type of crime.bApproval of the framework of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Model Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information, incorporating state-of-the-art standards, will mark a milestone, as this policy framework is expected to increase the levels of transparency in public management and allow an effective fight against corruption while promoting open competition, investment and economic growth.
Policies, laws and multilateralism are not intended to close the lid on boxes like Pandora’s. Nonetheless, they can mark a channel to limit or shut off access to the unfortunately all-too frequent crimes among mortals such as tax evasion.
Sonsoles Mories, FIIAPP Director of Economic Development and Environment
Sonia González, FIIAPP Coordinator of the EUROsociAL+ Democratic Governance Programme
07 October 2021
"The FIIAPP should constitute its vision of digitisation with a human approach, without digitisation being conceived as an end in itself, but as a lever for more and better help to citizens."
In the 21st century, digital technologies are profoundly changing societies, everyday life and working practices. All of this gained momentum as a response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, which highlighted the need to increase the coordination of international efforts, both to take advantage of the benefits of the digital age and to manage any obstacles to obtaining them.
In this sense, the European Union has embarked on a path for a green, just and digital transition in such a way that the European Green Deal and the responses to the health crisis have been linked to sustainability and digitisation. The goal is to shape digital economies that put people first, protect the fundamental rights of citizens and offer equal opportunities to all. For its part, Spain has legislated to accelerate processes from the portfolios of the Ecological Transition and Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence.
The European Commission’s main response in the digital sector was the launch of the D4D Hub, (Digitisation for Development Hub), which ushered in a new era for global cooperation on digital development. The D4D Hub implements the “2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade” with a Digital4Development approach, this new vision aims to promote new international partnerships in the field of digital transformation such as #TeamEurope.
Spain is one of the 11 Member States that are part of the D4D Hub and the FIIAPP, as a public state Foundation for Spanish and European cooperation, has been an active member of the different Hub commissions during the last year. The D4D Hub brings together European Member States and implementing agencies, the EC, the European Investment Bank and European financial institutions, civil society organisations, academia and private sector partners. The Hub aims to establish strategic digital partnerships and promote joint investments between Europe and partner countries around the world that contribute to reducing digital divides, including the digital gender divide, ensuring a human rights-based approach to sustainable development.
Digitisation with a human approach
However, the FIIAPP should constitute its vision of digitisation with a human approach. That is to say, without digitisation being conceived as an end in itself, but as a lever for more and better help to citizens.” Digitisation will transform and increase our impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)¹ and our actions in the projects in which we participate. Our main task will be to connect up the different actors in the sector to stimulate knowledge sharing and create innovative partnerships to “Put people first”. The D4D strategy must be in line with Spanish Cooperation and all its actors and in close cooperation with our international partners, the European Commission, other EU Member States, multilateral organisations, development banks, etc.
Given that digitisation creates both opportunities and challenges that transcend borders, international cooperation is a key dimension to make the most of digital transformation at the local, national and international levels. At FIIAPP, we use digital tools and understand that they can provide States with new capabilities and make them more credible, inclusive, efficient and innovative. However, the digital transformation also brings risks for inclusive development, increasing disparities between and within countries, widening digital divides, the automation of jobs, and security and privacy concerns. Hence the importance of putting people first in the development of digitisation.
Digitisation can play an important role in all sectors in which FIIAPP operates. This includes health, education, agriculture and food security, basic infrastructures, water and sanitation, governance, social protection, financial services and others. It can also contribute to cross-cutting objectives on gender and the environment. Through the Economic Development and Environment area, a Digitisation Strategy is being built and is actively contributing to the constitution of the Latin America D4D Hub.
Let’s start this new digital and sustainable path by improving public systems for people and the planet.
Alba Rodríguez Díaz, Project Technician, Economic Development and Environment Area.
¹ The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underlines the importance of information and communication technologies in developing countries as powerful facilitators of growth. Reference to ICTs can be found explicitly as a target in SDG 9 “Build resilient infrastructures, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation”, while ICTs are also mentioned in targets related to climate change (SDG 13 , 14 and 15), gender equality and the empowerment of women (SDG 5), private sector development (SDG 8), education (SDG 4) and health (SDG 3).