19 November 2013
Category : Opinion
The AECID celebrates 25 years of its commitment to development in Latin America
The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), which I have the honour of chairing from the State Secretariat of International and Latin American Cooperation, celebrates the 25th anniversary of its activities in combating poverty and promoting sustainable human development. In these 25 years we have channelled Spanish people’s solidarity, an indisputable distinguishing trait of our country.
Cooperation with Latin America is in our DNA. Apart from the historical legacy bequeathed by the Institute of Hispanic Culture (a seed of the Agency in 1946) and the Latin American Centre for Cooperation in 1977, our first projects as donors and as the Cooperation Agency were rolled out in the 1980s in Latin America. Today, 25 years later, Spanish cooperation continues to be committed to development in Latin America.
Over these 25 years, Spanish cooperation has been building a common heritage with Latin America through the AECID, implementing global activities in the fight against poverty. The strategic presence of our Technical Cooperation Offices, Cultural Centres and Training Centres has led to innumerable achievements in improving the living conditions, governability and progress of Latin American citizens.
Over these 25 years, the AECID’s projects have benefitted millions of people.
In this time, we have not only influenced the regulatory and institutional frameworks of the State and civil society, but also their values, the depth and quality of democracy, the guarantee and protection of rights, and the legitimisation of public policies in terms of social inclusion.
For years now, we have been witnessing the impact of Spanish cooperation projects on people’s lives – public pharmacy networks in Central America have facilitated access to essential medicines for the most vulnerable populations; 3.5 million people now have access to drinking water thanks to the Water Fund, which has already seen 67 programmes implemented in 19 countries, bridging the gap in the region’s drinking water access; the closing of La Chureca, the largest landfill in Latin America, which has improved living conditions for thousands of people and transformed the environmental situation in Managua; 17,000 young people have been trained in workshop schools, etc. In short, we have observed progress in achieving the Development Objectives, and nearly all the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have entered the category of middle-income countries.
But we know the huge challenges facing these countries in reinforcing safety and reducing inequality – in a region where poverty affects almost 30% of the population – and we will continue to support their efforts, as they are now concluding or about to conclude the development processes in which we have accompanied them. Spain is no longer merely a financial backer; the idea is to share experiences and methodologies.
Recent economic dynamism has favoured renewed impetus for integration and new cooperation formats and mechanisms. Latin America is a true laboratory of experiences and ideas that serve as a model for other regions. The growing momentum and relative stability have changed the structure of cooperation, and Spanish cooperation has been a part of this evolution. The need for cooperation from our partners in Latin America has definitively changed, as Spanish cooperation has changed. The country is no longer merely a financial backer and strives to enrich the project by sharing methodologies and experiences.
Today, with its excellent, developed technical capacity, Spanish cooperation implements cooperation programmes in Latin America that have been delegated by the European Union, as evidence of the AECID’s know-how.
Many countries have become partners participating in the development of third parties though triangular cooperation, a cooperation model that integrates the solidarity of the South with the South, promoting a relationship of equality among partners, in which each partner contributes in accordance with their economic and technical capabilities. An example is the alliance established between Argentina and Mexico for various reconstruction and development activities in Haiti after the earthquake that devastated the country early in 2010.
Latin America’s ties with our country are clearly evident, in both historical and sentimental terms, and are currently reinforced with cooperation that is focused on effectiveness, quality and the transfer of knowledge in order to narrow the inequality gap and reinforce security.
Jesús Gracia is Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Latin America.
Article published in the newspaper “El País” on 11 November 2013.
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