• 21 October 2016

    |

    Posteado en : Opinion

    |

    Are you an expert? You should communicate

    El próximo lunes, 24 de octubre celebramos el Día Mundial de Información sobre el Desarrollo. Ángel González Suárez, Técnico de la FIIAPP (Comunicación- Cooperación Española), nos cuenta lo que supone la comunicación y cómo podemos comunicar.

    A few weeks ago, I read an interview with anthropologist Arturo Escobar. In it he expresses his ideas on many subjects, including the role of experts and social media. He showed himself to be critical of the social transformation capacity of these communication channels and expressed an unflattering view of experts. Reflecting on his statements, I found myself somewhat in ‘no man’s land’ because, while they seemed on target, my experience raised objections.

    Today we are all experts on something. There may be someone who has not accepted it (although our browsing, increasingly specialised and segmented thanks to Google, suggests otherwise), but categories, tags and keywords are here to stay in our digital reality. And up to a certain point, it’s good that there are experts, not because one has to emulate or praise them but because their experience can be very important for others, provided they communicate it.

     

    Direct and personal communication

    Before encouraging the experts on development cooperation, and especially those who have not yet started using social media, I will take this opportunity to recall some of the channels and genres that can help them:

     

    ·         Blogs

    These are spaces that are open to creation, commentary and interaction. In Spain there are various, some journalistic in nature, with a community of contributors (El País or eldiario.es), others started in the world of DNGOs (Pobreza Cero , Fundación CIDEAL and the many run by Spanish DNGOs), by international bodies (World Bank) or the Spanish Public Administration (MAEC which also has created an important document on Digital Diplomacy;FIIAPP, or the Spanish Cooperation portal whose work I would like to promote).

    ·         Video blogs

    This is a genre that still has not taken hold among our experts. It involves a high degree of public exposure (hence the influence of YouTubers) but can also generate greater empathy in the public, more so than the written word. (I’m not aware of any Spanish examples, nor of ones in Spanish, that focus their content on development, so don’t hesitate to point them out in the comments section).

    ·         Social Media

    How networks are used depends a great deal on the characteristics of each channel. Twitter is not the same thing as Instagram, nor Facebook the same as LinkedIn. I recommend starting with Twitter due to its simplicity. There are many examples of good use made by its devotees; at @CooperacionESP we try to follow many accounts that work with diverse styles and objectives. It’s worthwhile to visit numerous profiles before starting one’s own and, always, much better to move into it gradually.

     

    Despite this, many experts, mainly those working in public institutions, hardly use this media to transmit their knowledge. I know that it’s difficult and that there are good reasons as to why they don’t do so:

    • Lack of time.
    • Fear of public exposure.
    • Self-exclusion from communication tasks.
    • Rigidity in the institutional structure.
    • Lack of confidence in one’s abilities.

     

    However, I don’t just think that this is an error, but that boosting the use of social media would serve to improve institutional communication.

     

    Communicate what you know how to do

    I’ll give you an example. Recently I had the good fortune to share my workspace with various experts on diverse subjects, all related to the field of development cooperation.

    I had never had the opportunity to learn about Spain’s gender policy, nor the implication of and degree of detail whichmultilateral cooperation requires. The same thing was true for me regarding the coordination of donors within the OECD, the flows of Official Development Assistance, the process of coordination of any position that represents Spain, the commitment to improving health systems and attention to childhood in other countries, or the need to better evaluate our work.

     

    Everyone should know about these subjects, especially if their taxes are supporting them. The difference between me and anyone else is that I had access to an expert.

    Spanish Cooperation has a tremendous panel of experts. I’ve been finding this out in the past two years. They have experience in other countries, knowledge, a good network of contacts and a great deal of documentation (that cannot be found on the Internet). In terms of communication, all of this is a rich vein. I think that they can improve the existing communities and strengthen social commitment to cooperation, which is already high.

     

    Implementation of an easy-to-use communication system for experts in public administrations is not terribly complicated; France and the United Kingdom have already done it, and our experts as well, for example, in the field of education for development. That’s why I would like experts and specialists to get more involved in communication. Time is of the essence. I never tire of saying it; they already have the most important thing: knowledge. Transmitting is much easier.

     

    Look at Natalia Lizeth López López. I’m convinced that she will become an expert; in fact she is already a good communicator who we would not know about if not for YouTube. The same is true of many assets from the Spanish Cooperation. (By the way, and this is key, one of its experts ‘told me about’ the link).

     

    Written by Angel González, FIIAPP (Communication- Spanish Cooperation)

  • 18 June 2015

    |

    Posteado en : Opinion

    |

    The cooperation and development fair

    EUROsociAL, the European Commission programme for social cohesion in Latin America, participated in European Development Days in Brussels.

    The year 2015 is key for cooperation. Declared the European Year of Development by the European Union, its mid-point coincided with its flagship event, European Development Days, which brought together people from five continents in Brussels with a significant African presence (an exception to the logical European majority), dozens of public institutions (also with a clear European Union majority), bilateral agencies and international bodies, fewer DNGOs than expected, and a small but media-covered presence by the private sector, with special attention to Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation championing health issues.

    Three auditoriums, 16 laboratories (or small conference rooms), 5 meeting points, 44 stands, 4 press areas and 2 television broadcasting sets, numerous cameras and a good turnout, without reaching the attendance levels of ARCO or FITUR to give a close-at-hand example. In short, a true cooperation fair.

    But beyond the staging, it was possible to learn a great deal from others and to invite them to take an interest in the themes that EUROsociAL proposed in Brussels: Europe and Latin America, their cooperation relationship, social cohesion policies, and the reality of the two regions during the crisis and at the present time. An interesting thematic and geographic “exception” in an agenda more focused on Africa and Asia and on sectors such as migration, health and food safety.

    As far as the rest was concerned, the theme of inequality was very important, and here the FIIAPP also participated along with think tanks like ODI and DIE, and the World Bank; gender equality with the presence of AECID; reproductive rights; the Ebola crisis; food safety with an impressive stand by the FAO (including planters made of rubber tyres made in Guatemala); and the fresh proposals of young international leaders.

    Constant foot traffic (with a look that was more white-collar than NGO) peppered by musical performances, photographic exhibitions, improvised interviews… an event with a paperless spirit in which the technological assistance was lacking (or failed) as the WiFi was not up to the deployment arranged by the organisers, as the participating institutions are called in Brussels.

    This decisive year for development will bring us another three milestones: the third conference on development financing (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13th-16th July); the special summit on sustainable development (New York, 25th-27th September), where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are to be approved, and the summit on climate change (COP21, Paris, December).

    As for the #EDD2015 tweets, they’re already talking about 2016.

    By Enrique Martínez, EUROsociAL communication and visibility officer

  • 11 June 2015

    |

    Posteado en : Opinion

    |

    Asylum and international protection

    On 15th and 16th June, a meeting is being held in Rabat on migration with these two key issues on the table: asylum and international protection.

    In recent months, the urgent need to manage migratory flows, an issue of vital importance for millions of people, has come to the forefront.

    It’s evident that, due to the continual crises of a diverse nature, both on the African continent and in the Middle East, we are currently seeing numerous examples of human beings who have left behind all they had in the hope of finding a better and safer life in neighbouring countries, or even in more distant and hitherto unfamiliar lands. The most recent tragedies in the Mediterranean demonstrate the magnitude of the desperation of these people, and the urgency of finding immediate and effective answers to this serious problem.

    Thus we are seeing countries in Europe, Africa, and other regions acknowledging the issue of migration as a central point on their policy agendas. Many of them have initiated actions to adapt and develop their migration policies to contribute concrete responses to the complex current situation. Examples of this are Mali, Morocco and Cape Verde, countries that have recently developed their national migration policies to respond to this phenomenon. This issue is also found at the heart of the European debate. The European Commission has presented its European Agenda on Migration, as well as preliminary proposals for a global intervention that improves the management of this problem.

    The FIIAPP is not on the sidelines in these debates. Ten intense years of continuous work in this area are testimony to its contribution through the Migration and Development programme, which supports national and international initiatives to facilitate the exchange of best practices and joint cooperation in this area.

    Specifically, the FIIAPP participates in the Rabat Process, the Euro-African Dialogue on Migration and Development, which provides a framework for consultation and coordination aimed at promoting the organisation of legal migration, fighting irregular migration and facilitating synergies between migration and development.

    Recently, as a consequence of the Fourth Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development held in Rome in late 2014, the issues of asylum and international protection have taken on special importance and, therefore, today are priorities for the Rabat Process.

    Asylum and international protection, a central issue in the current context. 

    The multiple crises occurring at the moment are generating massive population movements. The area covered by the Rabat Process (North Africa, Central Africa, West Africa and the European Union) are directly affected both as a result of their own internal crises (the Ivorian, Central African, Malian and Libyan crises, and more recently the crisis in North Nigeria) as well as those of neighbouring countries (Eritrea, Somalia, Syria, etc.).

    One of the direct consequences of these crises is the considerable uptick in the number of refugees and asylum seekers requesting protection.

    It is in this context that the Rabat Process Support Project consortium, in which the FIIAPP participates, is organising on 15th and 16th June in Rabat a meeting on asylum and international protection, an event that will be co-chaired by Spain and Morocco.

    This thematic meeting will include the participation of national and international representatives and experts, and one of its goals is to promote spaces for collaboration and consensus on issues of asylum and international protection. It aims to identify lines of action that will make it possible to develop effective protection systems and strengthen regional cooperation in these areas and in the zone covered by the Rabat Process.

    Maxence Defontaine

    Communications Officer of the “Rabat Process” project

    More information on the Rabat Process and this upcoming meeting on this website: www.processusderabat.net.

     

  • 28 May 2015

    |

    Posteado en : Reportage

    |

    The face of development aid

    Nineteen Spaniards are contributing their faces and their stories to explain to citizens what the development aid lent by the European Union consists of.

    Núria is a “Barcelonesa” and she lives in Angola. She is a face of cooperation. She collaborates with a local development project in this African country. It’s not the first time she’s worked as a volunteer, or in Angola or Africa. Mozambique and Mauritania were earlier destinations.

     

    Now 39 years of age, she’s contributing her experience as an economist and social worker to local Angolan institutions. The purpose of this project, financed by the European Commission and managed by the FIIAPP, is to improve opportunities for economic development and access to basic social services for vulnerable rural families.

     

    This year, Núria has been chosen as one of the faces of the Nineteen Citizens Give Development Aid a Face campaign as part of the “2015 European Year of Development” launched by the Representation of the European Commission and the Information Office of the European Parliament in Spain. The goal is to explain what Europe is doing in the area of cooperation through the experiences of these citizens. All of them are Spaniards.

    Did you know that the EU is the largest donor to development aid?

    The European Union and its Member States are the largest donors of development aid worldwide, and they fund and drive hundreds of programmes and initiatives aimed at improving living conditions for citizens. In 2013 they donated 56.5 billion euros to help countries all over the world fight poverty.

    The “2015 European Year of Development” seeks to publicise this activity and also its results. “Our world. Our dignity. Our future” is its slogan, and the story of Núria and all the other faces of development aid are helping to spread the word about it in Europe and the rest of the world. #EYD2015#19Rostros

    EYD2015

  • 20 May 2015

    |

    Posteado en : Reportage

    |

    Cooperation: Zero violence in Argentina

    In the week when the OECD is presenting its report on the economic progress of Latin America, we bring you the reality of Argentina thanks to EUROsociAL.

    The European Union cooperation programme for Latin America, EUROsociAL, focuses its work on social cohesion and development in various Latin American countries. One of them is Argentina, where work is being done on several projects for access to justice and prevention of violence in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice.

     

    Kids in the Jóvenes con más y mejor trabajo [Young People With More and Better Jobs] programme of the Access to Justice Centre of Santiago del Estero mounted a campaign against institutional violence. Among their actions, the mural created with the slogan of the campaign, No me pongas la mano encima” [Don’t lay a hand on me], an “open-mike radio show” and a street performance stand out.

     

    Street violence

    The IDLO, the international organisation that supports justice, (with the collaboration of EUROsociAL), held a workshop in Santiago del Estero Province to train young people on how to create their own campaigns to raise awareness about rights, and there was almost no debate: “institutional violence”—and in particular the mistreatment young people experience at the hands of the police—would have to be at the centre of their actions.

     

    According to the IDLO, in Argentina, kids going about their business on the streets know that being detained, chased and possibly arrested by a police patrol on its rounds is a real possibility.

     

    In most cases, there is no real motive for this. The most habitual pretext is “having the face of a criminal” or “looking suspicious”—their appearance is what makes them suspicious. Wearing a track suit or a baseball cap is an aggravating factor. One minute you’re talking to your friends, and the next you’re up against the wall with your things scattered on the pavement and a pair of hands frisking you looking for weapons or drugs.

     

    Since 2013, EUROsociAL has been consolidating various tools for access to justice policies oriented towards different vulnerable groups: besides the young protagonists of this story, it has championed migrant women’s right to justice in Costa Rica, women victims of violence in Honduras, women victims of human trafficking in Chile, the indigenous population in Peru, and African-descended young people in Brazil”.

  • 14 May 2015

    |

    Posteado en : Opinion

    |

    Disability and revolution in Tunisia

    FIIAPP employee Diego Blázquez tells how he faced the challenge of rolling out policies in Tunisia aimed at empowering persons with disabilities in a period of social and political convulsion.

    When I arrived in Tunisia during the Christmas season in 2011, every aspect of life in Tunisia was political: how women dressed, how men wore their beards or hair, which mosque you went to, which radio station you listened to or newspaper you read… and also the issue of disability. The challenging context of the political transition and the vulnerability of disability policies, previously under the direct supervision of Ben Ali, resulted in disability ceasing to be a government priority. Nevertheless, in this same context of the Revolution, new organisations of young people with disabilities soon emerged that wanted to denounce previous abuses, reform existing institutions and, similarly, there was great dissent within the large classic organisations, new associative leadership structures being built, new demands for participation and transparency…

    I left the country a year ago. I lived and worked there for two years and four months as a expert from the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP). I had the tremendous professional and personal good fortune to live through practically all of the political transition from inside the Tunisian government and in direct contact with the country’s civil society, and more specifically with one of the most vulnerable groups: persons with disabilities.

    I arrived in Tunisia in a privileged position as a resident advisor of a European Union project: a twinning, in the jargon of the EU. This is an institutional cooperation instrument of the European Commission, managed in Spain by the FIIAPP, which aims to encourage conciliation of government management and public policies among EU neighbouring countries. In my case, it was a question of developing inclusion policies for persons with disabilities in the new framework of the United Nations Convention.

    I took advantage of the Christmas 2011 break to move and bring my family over. By early January, all five of us were there with the sensation of embarking on an adventure in all senses, despite being only two hours away from Madrid by plane. During those weeks we lived through the worst winter weather on record since Tunisia started collecting meteorological data, including the biggest snowstorm in the interior of the country in 40 years. It would turn out to be an omen that things were not going to be as easy as we thought.

    After a very rough start in which we really couldn’t establish effective communication with our partners in the Tunisian government, little by little we were able to start orienting the work through a series of pilot projects in the areas of inclusive education and employment programmes. The progress we made was mostly thanks to the action of a group of civil society organisations which, following the model of the Spanish CERMI, formed a powerful lobby. This made it possible to regularise the employment situation of the workers in the nearly 300 assistance centres for persons with disabilities in Tunisia and make a pact with the Ministry of Social Affairs regarding a new stable financing structure based on quality objectives and indicators.

    That moment was unquestionably the turning point in the project, as it made it possible to create a new environment because, despite the difficulties and discussions, a new basic structure had been generated.

    Nevertheless, the overall context again made things difficult when the first wave of political violence hit in 2012. This would end six months later with the assassination of Chokri Belaid, a human rights lawyer and secular left politician, although perhaps in international terms the best known episode was the attack and destruction of the United States Embassy.

    Personally, these experiences brought back memories of my childhood during the Spanish political transition. Seeing my children enjoying days off from school as a result of these situations reminded me of myself enjoying similar moments in Spain in the seventies. I wasn’t able to see the worry in my parents’ eyes then, as I hope my children didn’t see mine in these moments.

    Finally we managed to create a national strategy document on disability; we formed a group of some 30 people to address the reform of special education, and we carried out pilot projects for this reform in five schools in Tunis and its metropolitan area. We included inclusive education for parents, mothers and teachers, educational inspectors in the pilot projects, and we gave opportunities to many people, like Kauser.

    In the case of employment policies for persons with disabilities, we tried to break their marginalisation in the labour market by putting them in contact with companies, improving vocational training programmes, and raising awareness among business owners about the advantages of diversity in the workforce. The experience of Spain’s Inserta Foundation was key in this sense. And we trained a small socio-occupational team in each province to assist persons with disabilities in a coordinated manner.

    Despite all of this, many things were left undone, but I left Tunisia with the satisfaction of knowing that I had done all I could in a very difficult context that the Tunisians shared generously with me and my family.

    I left Tunisia with a great love of the country, of its people, its climate, its culture, its streets… And with the bittersweet feeling of wanting to participate even more and better in this spirit of reform that filled me two years and four months ago when I first arrived in the country. The future of Tunisia is the future of all of us who live on the shores of the Mediterranean. That’s why I suffered along with the Tunisians when the marvellous El Bardo museum was attacked. And that’s why I want to use these lines to invite everyone to support the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution by getting lost on its beaches, in it mountains, on its deserts this summer. Sharing its archaeological and natural riches. Drinking a glass of Kurubis wine or Celtia beer while watching the millenarian blue of the Gulf of Carthage, and in this way to help consolidate the liberty and dignity of our neighbours in addition to our own.

    Diego Blázquez is an expert from the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP). You can also read this article in Planeta Futuro.