27 March 2014
Category : Entrevista
The FIIAPP mobilizes more than one thousand civil servants and other professionals each year to transmit the Spanish public administration model to the countries where it develops cooperation projects. Currently, thirteen of these experts are living in the places where the projects are being developed during the execution period. They are the resident advisors. We spoke with one of them, Pablo Ródenas.
“How brave. Going with the entire family…”, one of his colleagues told him while saying goodbye. These are his last days in the FIIAPP headquarters in Madrid. Next destination: Ukraine. Just a few months ago he came back from Turkey. Pablo Ródenas has gotten “hooked” on cooperation on the ground. He started working as a project officer in the FIIAPP in 2007. Four years later, in 2011 and 2013, they sent him to Turkey as a resident advisor of the Foundation to coordinate a project for strengthening Turkish intermodal transport. He was taking part in what is known as twinning, one of the types of projects managed by the FIIAPP for transferring knowledge from Spanish public institutions to their counterparts in the countries where it works. His know-how and desire for change opened the doors of this experience to Pablo.
“The work of an expert is to coordinate and organize projects. You have to adapt to the culture and try to transmit best practices, not impose them. People collaborate when their opinion is taken into account and they feel comfortable. That’s where you see good results”, he recounts. The resident advisors do not train the local staff. That’s taken care of by the experts who travel periodically to the country. He openly admits that he’s doing well. That’s why he’s being sent now to Ukraine for another two years to manage an Intellectual and Industrial Property project. He leaves on the 31st of March with his wife and two children, a three-year-old girl and a seven-month-old boy. “Each child came to us with a project under its arm”, he jokes.
What is it about cooperation that made you stay for two years in Turkey and now makes you want to go to Ukraine?
What gets you hooked on cooperation is that you’re doing something useful. You’re helping the project get results. And you do it on the ground, without barriers, adapting yourself to the needs of the moment and of the project.
Why was it necessary to strengthen the intermodal transport system in Turkey?
This system seeks to achieve more efficient, economical and ecological modes of goods transport, whether by road, rail, sea or river. That Turkey wants to strengthen this is a very good thing, because it will help it to develop its trade relations with Europe and reduce traffic congestion on its roads. Istanbul, for example, is a bridge between two continents and it suffers from a level of heavy traffic that we can’t even imagine.
How was it working with Turkish institutions and professionals?
On a personal level, it was very enriching. The people are lovely and hospitable. They always try to make your life easier. In administrative terms it was more complicated because it’s a very bureaucratic and slow-moving system.
Now you’ll be working in Ukraine in intellectual and industrial property. What is the aim of the project?
It’s legislative in nature and training-related. Seeing which laws they lack and which laws they have in order to improve them; how the professionals dedicated to this area must adapt to the international standards of the European Union and how to prosecute infringements.
Does institutional cooperation have a future?
A big one. Right now twinning is a clear example that institutional cooperation works very well and is very inexpensive. Also, the collaboration established between two countries, by not being linked to economic interest, goes beyond the contract. And the language spoken in the institutions is the same.
Besides institutions and professionals, are there other beneficiaries of this cooperation?
The population of the beneficiary country. For example if Turkey improves its transport system, this makes it more efficient and clean. Then, as it is more efficient, it will be less expensive, and this will be reflected in the prices of the products being imported or exported, and also in the environmental cost: if they take trucks off the road, there is less pollution.
What does your family have to say about changing their lives again?
The children are great about these things. The little one is hardly aware and the older one adapts right away. And my wife is a saint, although she an instigator as well. She’s been able to get a leave of absence from her job and knows that cooperation work on the ground fulfils me a lot.
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