30 December 2020
During 2020, more than 200 COVID initiatives have emerged in FIIAPP on migration, security, gender and social cohesion issues, among others.
In January 2020 we started another year with the hope that it would be, at least, a little better than the previous one, both on the personal and professional levels.
At FIIAPP, we had plans for many trips, events and important activities related to our projects. We had no idea what was coming, what we would have to deal with, just a couple of months later.
By March, we were dealing with a global pandemic. There was talk that this virus would change everything in every corner of the planet: the way we mobilise, the way we relate to one another, and, of course, the way we work.
One of FIIAPP’s main activities is the exchange of experiences between Spanish civil servants and their counterparts in the partner countries with which we work. What will happen from now on? How do we keep working? Fortunately, at FIIAPP we have grown in the face of adversity and we have shown our most ingenious side.
At FIIAPP, more than 200 COVID initiatives have been promoted on various topics such as social cohesion, reducing inequalities, the fight against climate change, gender equality, security and development and of course digitisation, among many others.
Under the motto “Team Europe”, the European Union and the Member States are working on a global response to the pandemic. One of the initiatives framed under this slogan are the COVID Round Tables. An exercise launched and coordinated by FIIAPP to combat COVID-19 worldwide through cooperation, which has come to stay and to nurture political dialogues through cooperation.
These Round Tables have started with three pilot experiences, in Argentina, Ecuador and Costa Rica, in order to identify the demands resullting from the health emergency, channelling them in a structured and coordinated way to promote a response strategy.
Gender-based violence has escalated with COVID-19 and the restrictions on mobility. Cooperation projects such as EL PAcCTO: Support to AMERIPOL and EUROsociAL+ have promoted initiatives that support women and girls exposed to violence.
The pandemic has also given human traffickers more opportunities to exploit their victims. Rising poverty has multiplied the opportunities for criminal organisations to mislead more victims with promises of a job and a better future. The European project ATIPSOM draws on specialists from the National Police to combat trafficking and the illegal smuggling of migrants in Nigeria. The project has carried out various actions to mitigate risks for the victims, such as the creation of tweetchats, conversations through Twitter. In addition, information and public awareness have been promoted through the media, such as the weekly broadcast of a local radio program: “A-TIPSOM voice”.
State security forces and bodies are front-line personnel in all countries. European projects such as EUROFRONT and MYPOL, among others, have trained people in managing confinement and the application of disinfectants, as well as delivering the necessary healthcare materials to fight COVID such as masks, gloves and disinfectant gels.
The pandemic has shown us how much we depend on digital technologies to continue our daily lives; digitisation has come to stay and during 2020 FIIAPP has been involved in more than 70 actions through its projects and programmes in Latin America, the Neighbourhood and Sub-Saharan Africa. Projects including EL PAcCTO, Bridging the Gap, ARAP Ghana and ICRIME, as well as numerous Twinning projects have carried out specific activities related to digitisation such as Higher Education in Algeria or Civil Execution in Turkey.
In addition, projects such as EU-ACT and Cuba-EU Expertise Exchange have delivered computer materials to the countries in which they are working so they can modernise and connect virtually to the activities being carried out. Likewise, FIIAPP itself has created the connect.fiiapp platform to give all the projects managed by the Foundation the possibility to carry out their activities remotely, in addition to making telecommuting possible for nearly 300 people from one day to the next.
Spain has positioned itself as a key partner in European cooperation and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees stresses the fundamental nature of FIIAPP’s work. Work that, through its regional programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, its cooperation projects in Africa and Twinning, contribute toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, with the aim of leaving no one behind.
The role of the public administrations and their staff is fundamental to our work. This year more than ever, all the institutions we work with have made an extraordinary effort to rise to the occasion. And looking at all that has been achieved, it is blindingly obvious that, between us all, we have met our stated objectives, in addition to the new ones that have arisen due to the pandemic, with great adaptability.
It has been a hard, intense year, with many new situations to be faced both personally and professionally. But let’s remember the words of the poet Khalil Gibran: “No matter how long the storm, the sun always shines through the clouds again”.
21 May 2020
Alma Martín, support technician for the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange project, updates us on how the activities programmed to promote renewable energy sources in the country have been reassessed. She gives us her view on how to transform the limitations caused by COVID into advantages for the project.
Participating in the management of an international cooperation project is a fascinating job, although sometimes the rush and deadlines do not allow us to enjoy the work we do or to measure the great difference that its implementation makes for its beneficiaries. However, a momentous event such as COVID19 making its appearance in our lives upsets any plans and expectations we may all have. There is no SWOT analysis that foresees a context like the current one. And despite the seriousness of the situation and the problems we are facing, it is precisely now that an opportunity is arising that cannot be missed: to carefully address important aspects of the activities we are carrying out, paying more attention to them if possible and dedicating more time to them than ever, to ensure that when we can start them up, they will be as successful as we hope.
One of the most important activities carried out this year in the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange Project for the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba, which we are working on at the FIIAPP, is the “Cuba sustainable energy forum” whose second edition was scheduled for June this year; the current circumstances have made it necessary to change the dates, possibly to September of this year. The Forum, organized by the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Delegation of the European Union of Cuba and with the support of Fira Barcelona, will be held at the PABEXPO fairground area (Havana).
In the days before, a series of parallel events will be held in the city of Santa Clara aimed at promoting foreign investment in bioelectric plants (organized by the state group AZCUBA) with the involvement of the Universities of the Caribbean and Cuba (organized by the Central University of Villas) that will include a visit to the Ciego de Ávila bioelectric plant.
Taking advantage of this forced recess, we have been finalizing details to ensure that this forum is a once again a success, and offering Cuban regional institutions and universities a space for encounters and dialogue where more than 150 people will be able to exchange experiences and the latest sector know-how. Through workshops planned around four main topics (solar thermal energy, electric mobility, energy accumulation and energy efficiency), national and international experts of recognized prestige in the field will, together with Cuban institutional personnel and directors of regional and international organizations, address the current situation and development of technologies, as well as international advances and agreements within the sector, which will undoubtedly encourage the implementation of the country’s new energy modernization policy.
The Forum thus adds to the efforts of the country and MINEM to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Among the objectives of the new energy policy, in 2030 it is expected that renewable energy in electricity generation will increase by 24%, produce 7,316 GWh/year, replace 1.75 million tons of fossil fuel and save emitting 6 million tons of CO2/year in the country.
Sometimes taking a step back allows you to take a firmer step forward later and make the leap that ensures you achieve your goals. By overcoming adversity and taking advantage of the opportunity that is presented to us, we will contribute much more to this project and go much further than we had intended.
Alma Martín Pérez, support technician for the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange Project.
30 April 2020
Shedy Plaza, from the Eurosocial+ programme, shares her thoughts with us during confinement. A text that invites us to open our minds to a calm and deep reflection on the changes that the pandemic could imply and the need for cooperation to continue contributing towards building a better future.
In the almost seventh week of my confinement and ever since I recently discovered that, for reasons beyond my control, I have to work, I have witnessed, in my exhausted and even, at times, incredulous state, the distress caused by COVID-19, commonly called the coronavirus.
Sometimes I want to wake up from this nightmare but I can’t. I want to believe that it is a novel or a science fiction film, but it’s not, it’s real, and I find myself a spectator of the most sordid and unpleasant aspects of the challenge that is making us lose everything that we had achieved, everything we had dreamed of or wanted to attain. And I ask myself, what now?
I find it hard to believe that this so-called “crowned bug” will lead us to what the Anglo-Saxon world calls appeasement (apaciguamiento), to being spectators to what is happening, without doing anything, or almost nothing, and that this will lead us to an idealism that makes reality and disappointment collide. A reality we are seeing and/or each of us is undergoing against our own backdrops and the disappointment of waiting for things to change and being permanently on hold.
A few months ago I had the privilege of attending an activity organised by EUROsociAL+ in Antigua, Guatemala, at which it was possible to witness how different social actors from different social, political and cultural spheres talked about, compared and demonstrated how in different countries and different contexts inequality, mistrust, lack of transparency and resources and disparities in wealth and even corruption have tarnished democracies, generating a lack of confidence in institutions, and how they, at the same time, shared and sought synergies to continue fighting for a common project.
New actors, new spaces have always set the guidelines of the programme and, in general, of the Foundation, and it is these very guidelines and spaces that form the fabric that feeds cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid, where stability and moderation have produced and will continue to produce social transformations perhaps never imagined, where moderation and plausibility are based on everyday reality, achieved by taking important small steps and always with a realism that describes the social reality of where we live, weaving trust based on equal opportunities, a sense of belonging and solidarity. We are the weavers of the trust that awaits us, that invites us to continue working for our future among peers and for that of others.
New challenges, new purposes, new horizons, new goals await us. This is what it’s all about, not dreaming, not idealising, but weaving the future together, accompanying strategic demands, continuing to add and support networks and work plans, where cooperation, in this case, is a vital and essential element, a resource, that leads us to come together and share the same loom, now more than ever.
Shedy Plaza, Support Technician EUROsociAL+ Programme Office