18 March 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
Climate change has put three out of every ten households in Central America and the Caribbean at risk. Social vulnerability exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic must be added to this environmental vulnerability. Therefore, the implementation of comprehensive policies to reduce inequalities and alleviate poverty is a matter of urgency.
Individuals are affected differently by COVID-19. And it does not affect all territories to the same extent. Almost 60% of the population of Central America lives in urban areas, many of which are unplanned, according to UN-Habitat estimates. Neighbourhoods with high degrees of overcrowding and that are scattered, poorly connected and with hardly any services and infrastructures whose inhabitants have seen their vulnerability increased due to the pandemic. Specifically, the impact on informal settlements has been greater due to the inaccessibility of drinking water for proper sanitation, overcrowding in homes and the difficulty of access to health services. The pandemic has also had significant negative effects on the family economy since many people, mainly women, who live in settlements work informally. According to data from the International Labour Organization, 126 million women work informally in Latin America and the Caribbean. This represents almost 50% of the region’s female population.
“Since the pandemic began, the situation in the neighbourhood has been chaotic because we live very close to each other and up to 15 people live in very small houses. In my house, which has three rooms, there were three of us and now there are eight because my daughter and my grandchildren have had to come to live with us. I depend on a pension that the government gives me because of my disability, but it is very small”, Alicia Bremes explains to us from Pueblo Nuevo, a neighbourhood in the Pavas district of San José, Costa Rica. In August 2020, the districts of Pavas and Uruca together made up more than 15% of the entire country’s active COVID cases.
“How are we going to wash our hands if we don’t have access to water? Or how are we going to disinfect ourselves with gel if the price is so high?” laments Bremes, who has suffered the consequences of the pandemic at home. “One of my sons fixes cell phones and has been out of work for many months. I have another son with a disability who used to go to a psychiatric workshop every day and has suffered a lot because he no longer had anywhere to go. As he was nearly always out in the street, he caught COVID, suffered a very high temperature and had great difficulty in breathing, but recovered. But I have many neighbours, of all ages, who have passed away”, she says.
As Alicia Bremes explains, the situation in the poorer neighbourhoods is one of extreme vulnerability. “Many mothers in the neighbourhood had been working as cleaners in homes and were fired due to the pandemic. COVID has also reduced the street vending on which many families depend to be able to eat on a daily basis”, she says. Therefore, it is essential to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable groups and to try to cushion the effects of the pandemic that has quickly become a socio-economic as well as a health crisis.
In this context, the Council for Social Integration (CIS) asked the Secretariat for Central American Social Integration (SISCA), with the support of the Programme EUROsociAL+ of theEuropean Union, managed by FIIAPP, IILA and Expertise France, and in partnership with agencies and programmes of the United Nations, FAO, ILO and UN HABITAT, to prepare a “Recovery, Social Reconstruction and Resilience Plan for Central America and the Dominican Republic”. The Plan is a common regional roadmap and is made up of a series of strategic projects articulated around three axes of intervention: social protection, employment and sustainable urban development.
The Plan, which has been endorsed by the Councils of Ministers of Labour, Housing and Human Settlements of Central America and the Dominican Republic, focuses its efforts on reducing poverty and socio-spatial inequality, the most obvious territorial expression of which are the informal settlements, which are estimated to make up 29% of the Central American urban population. Despite national efforts over the last 15 years to reduce the population living in informal settlements, many people continue to live in this situation. In addition, there are risks derived from climate change, which exposes a growing number of inhabitants to the effects of extreme weather events such as hurricanes or landslides.
There is an urgent need to broaden our view and think of the neighbourhood as the environment that enables us to implement basic rights within the city, for which we will have to attend not only to the provision of housing, but also to ensure that these houses have the necessary infrastructures, services and facilities.
There are still many challenges ahead in order to turn the face of poverty and inequality into one of progress without leaving anyone behind. For this reason, additional financial resources must be urgently found for the implementation of the Recovery, Social Reconstruction and Resilience Plan, an instrument that will mitigate the effects of the pandemic and shape societies that are more resilient, socially more just and egalitarian and environmentally more sustainable.
Cristina Fernández, Senior Town Planning Architect of EUROsociAL+ and collaborator with Fundemuca
11 March 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
David R. Seoane, a member of the Knowledge Management area, explains that FIIAPP does important work on global knowledge management as through its work to promote learning by administration bodies and support public policies that benefit people.
FIIAPP’s raison d’être as an institution is to promote learning between counterpart public administration bodies from different countries through the exchange and transfer of knowledge. The key raw material with which we work is therefore knowledge. We are a knowledge organisation.
Over the last few years, FIIAPP has made a firm commitment to ensure progress in the implementation of knowledge management as one of our cross-cutting priorities that allow us to grow as an organisation. This decision has led us to take important steps in the way we work that have allowed us to nurture our strategic planning and management, establishing synergies between the programming, monitoring and evaluation of public technical cooperation projects and other programmes in which we work. Throughout this ongoing process, we have always been certain that our roadmap toward a better FIIAPP inevitably involves the incorporating of innovation, continuous learning and good practices within our interventions.
We therefore classify the types of knowledge with which we work within the Foundation and that are indispensable to us. These are: strategic knowledge, methodological knowledge and procedural knowledge. This system allows us to define and organise knowledge that we consider critical to the development of the organisation’s functions and the achievement of its objectives.
Having useful knowledge at these three levels is key for our projects to translate into development results. In order to make better-informed decisions on a strategic level, we need to know the priorities of the international agenda, what kind of training is available to Spanish and European Public Administration bodies and what our partner countries need. At the methodological level, we have to use methodologies that ensure a horizontal, innovative transfer of knowledge that covers the real needs of our counterparts. Finally, on a procedural level, we follow solid and rigorous procedures that allow us to carry out economic, legal, logistical management etc. that meets the highest possible quality standards. In addition to effort and perseverance, we only need one thing for all this: knowledge.
On an ongoing basis, FIIAPP develops mechanisms and tools (guides, protocols, manuals, explanatory videos, information sessions, pilot exercises etc.) that allow us to capture, process and disseminate these types of knowledge, allowing us to progress efficiently and effectively. These three phases – capture, process and disseminate – make up the knowledge management cycle that the Foundation has adopted and that we strive daily to consolidate as the true culture of our collective work.
At FIIAPP, we believe that organisations learn, which is why we invest significant efforts and resources to improve our capacities to manage our knowledge better every day. This is the only way to live up to our essence and our true mission as an organisation.
David R. Seoane, Communication and Knowledge Management Technician at FIIAPP
05 March 2021
Posteado en : Reportage
After decades of energy inefficiency, technological innovations have led to some enormous improvements in the responsible use of energy. However, the pressing need to curb climate change requires more efforts in this area.
Energy efficiency means optimising the use of resources to produce energy. As well as consuming fewer resources, it means reducing emissions. This is essential to gradual decarbonisation and to keep the increase in the planet’s temperature to a maximum of 1.5ºC. Companies and individuals have become more acutely aware of the finite nature of fossil fuels, their increasing cost and their environmental impact.
The international community made a global commitment in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. The goal for 2030 is to ensure that everybody has access to electricity and to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources of energy.
This general objective is specified in two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among the aims of SDG7 “Affordable and clean energy” is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency from 2015 to 2030. As the UN Energy Progress Report points out, although things are improving, there is still much to be done. SDG11 “Sustainable cities and communities” also warns of the concentration of the population in cities and the need to develop adequate, energy efficient urban infrastructures.
To this end, in 2012 the European Union enacted a series of binding measures to promote energy efficiency with Directive 2012/27 / EU. In 2020, under the European Green Deal, the European Union committed to a more demanding objective of improving energy efficiency from 20% to 32.5% compared to 1990 levels.
With the 2030 Agenda and with European and Spanish cooperation as its point of reference, FIIAPP has been working on cooperation projects with public administrations around the world for more than 20 years. With the maxim of benefiting citizens, several of the projects implemented by the Foundation have included the promotion of public policies to foster energy efficiency among their objectives.
For example, under the EUROCLIMA + cooperation programme, we are currently working in collaboration with Paraguay to promote clean technologies and energy efficiency. As part of the “Promotion of the Efficient Use of Biomass in Paraguay” action, the Vice Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADES) are receiving support to develop a calculation tool for SMEs to carry out self-diagnosis of energy consumption and identify potential savings points.
In the field of Public Technical Cooperation, the team is working to design and run a national dissemination campaign targeting the agro-industrial sector. The purpose of this campaign is to instil the concept of energy efficiency and its benefits in economic, social and environmental aspects in the productive sector.
FIIAPP also works closely on energy efficiency matters with Cuban public bodies. Cuba has launched a new roadmap for the country to gradually incorporate renewable energy sources and work on energy efficiency. The aim is that by 2030 at least 24% of the energy generated will be renewable with better efficiency. This would mean saving 1.73 million tons of fuel per year and avoid releasing 6 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
One of the actions of the Cuba-EU II Expert Exchange programme aims to improve energy efficiency in the Cuban hospitality sector. Three specialists from the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (IRC) are taking part in a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University in Tarragona.
Alexander Maura is working on his thesis on solar energy-based conversion systems in a hotel in an isolated area that generates its own electricity using fossil fuels, Ricardo Domínguez’s thesis explores the use of biogas for refrigeration and air conditioning purposes of a pig farm while Carlos Luis Izquierdo is designing a grid-connected photovoltaic system at IRC to boost renewable energy and reduce emissions.
‘Cuba Renovables’ is another of the projects managed by FIIAPP to promote energy efficiency among Cuban institutions. The project is part of the “Cuba Energy Support Programme”, implemented through a programme of cooperation between the EU and Cuba. Its aim is to contribute to the effective implementation of the ‘Policy for the prospective development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency’ in Cuba and its regulatory framework.
The project supports the new national policy promote rational use of energy by reducing consumption and increasing savings. Cuban institutions have already launched different awareness campaigns for the population. Companies also play an important role and work is being done to promote the production of equipment for private and industrial use that is more efficient in saving energy.
These projects are an example of the effort of the international community, the European Union and Spain to offer joint responses through cooperation to global problems such as climate change. With the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and the European Development Consensus as a guide, FIIAPP encourages public institutions to share their experience, steering them to generate results, forge relationships of trust and strengthen values in societies.
25 February 2021
Posteado en : Interview
In this interview, José R. Rojo Rodríguez, General Director of the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning of Cuba, tells us about the importance of the IRC and the cooperation work which they have been carrying out together with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II, funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP
What is the Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning?
The Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (IRC) is a national reference centre for the refrigeration sector in Cuba. Our corporate purpose is to provide scientific-technological services, conducting applied research in matters of refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation.
We have more than 40 years of experience providing specialised solutions in these areas, with a highly qualified professional staff that carries out projects that range from the project itself to the supplying and provision of specialised technical assistance, called “turnkey projects”.
What are your main areas of work?
Our main activity consists of services for science and technological innovation works, in the national territory and abroad, technical assistance, feasibility studies, surveys, diagnoses, knowledge management and technological management by applying new technologies. We also carry out tests on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, to certify its quality and verify its energy efficiency, both for national and foreign legal entities, provided that the latter are domiciled, established or authorised to operate in the country.
At IRC we also organise training sessions, technical events, seminars and conferences on refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation, and we carry out standardisation work, such as: development of quality specification standards, technical requirements and energy consumption rates and technological processes within these specialist areas, as well as marketing raw materials and idle materials.
Which IRC jobs would you highlight due to their relevance to energy efficiency in Cuba?
At IRC, we have experience in developing turnkey projects for refrigeration facilities for different products and in different locations in Cuba, among which are the following: the Frigorífico San Pedrito with three freezing tunnels, the Contramaestre refrigerator for citrus fruits, the refrigerator of the Mariel Special Development Zone and the Camarones de Guajaca processing plant.
We also have laboratories that certify the quality of the refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that Cuba produces or imports and we run several specialised courses in refrigeration and air conditioning that can also be taught online through the GESTA virtual platform, the Centre for Business Management, Technical and Administrative Achievement of the Ministry of Industries of Cuba.
How is the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II Programme supporting this issue? Could you mention some specific activities?
IRC’s participation in the programme has enabled us to deepen our expertise along the lines of energy efficiency and the use of all residual energy sources. This has already made it possible to work on reducing energy consumption in facilities belonging to several organisations. Likewise, this experience and the knowledge acquired has multiplied and has reached more people through the courses given by our centre to all the personnel interested in these topics.
Support for the programme has been very important for us in facilitating the participation of 3 IRC specialists on a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University of Tarragona, Spain, which has allowed us to raise the scientific level of our specialists. They are already preparing their final Master’s theses, which have also been linked to the issues we are working on with the EU-Cuba Facility for Expertise Exchanges II Programme.
Within the framework of the Programme and in relation to this Master’s Degree, what results do you hope to obtain from this training?
The participation of our specialists on the Master’s Degree will allow us to open new lines of work that will influence the use of residual energies to protect the environment and expand the use of renewable energies in refrigeration and air conditioning in our country.
16 May 2019
Posteado en : Entrevista
Rafael Ríos, coordinator of A-TIPSOM: the fight against people trafficking and irregular migration in Nigeria, explains how he has been adapting to the country, what his daily routine is like, and what it is like to work as a FIIAPP expatriate.
How long have you been in Nigeria? How have you adapted to this country?
I arrived on 16 July 2018. When you arrive in a new country, as you can imagine, it is not always easy. I remember hearing about other projects, from other colleagues who had been in or were in other countries, who said “the beginning is always the hardest”. For me this has been a bit simpler, or less complicated, and I’ll tell you why. In this country we already had the embassy staff, and they helped us with everything from the outset, arriving in the country, accreditations, looking for accommodation, the office, etc. We spent almost four months in a small office that they kindly lent us until we were able to move. I wish you could count on this kind of support every time you started a project.
What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?
The hardest part was perhaps the second week. During the first week everything is frenetic, you have so many things on your plate… But the second week was like coming back down to Earth. That’s when I really started to realize where I was, and the step that I’d taken. Such a long project with so many important challenges. The easiest thing was perhaps meeting people, dealing with the Nigerians, who I think are happy people who enjoy their country and who, in general, welcome newcomers quite readily.
Is this your first experience outside of Spain?
No, it’s not. Belonging to the National Police gives you opportunities like this, discovering other countries and destinations, doing what you enjoy and what you know best. Previously I’d done different jobs in African countries, on short-term missions in Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, as well as in Europe, in Italy to be precise.
In light of this, is this proving to be very different to your previous missions?
The concept behind this mission is quite different. This one is long-term and involves a permanent deployment in another country plus working as an expert for FIIAPP . It’s something else entirely, and it’s a big professional challenge for me, since what we are trying to achieve with this project is very alluring, and at the same time very ambitious .
What is your work like, your daily routine?
Honestly, I think it’s not that different. Here, because of the hot weather, you get up and start work quite early. We get to the office, have meetings, go out to the different places we need to visit as part of the project. Usually we have lunch at the office and return home in mid-afternoon.
Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
As I said, it is a job that requires a lot of contact with one’s counterparts,which means you are often out of the office, and I find that quite interesting.
What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid?
Great! I would say that, in addition to having a great professional relationship, we talk every day, we share ideas, etc. We have even created bonds that are enabling us to achieve better results in the project, of that I am sure.
And with your colleagues in Nigeria?
The same. Several months on, the team in the field has been growing, with Nigerian personnel, which helps us a lot to understand their way of working, what they’re like, their customs.
How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
It is very positive so far. I think it is helping me to understand how an institution like FIIAPP copes with so many projects and with the scope of the work it does. The training, its structure and its values are enabling me to acquire knowledge. When you belong to an institution like the National Police, sometimes you focus so much on your professional life that you do not realize how work is done elsewhere, so the project is helping to train me both professionally and personally .
Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in or adaptation to the country?
Well, I could tell you several, but I’ll just say that I like saying good morning and learning new words in a dialect called Hausa, and in the building where we work I usually see two young people who like to teach me words like that: good morning, let’s go, go ahead… and it makes them laugh when they hear me pronounce them… Inakwana, which means good morning, is part of the day-to-day.
21 March 2019
Posteado en : Entrevista
Today, 21 March, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To celebrate this date, we are having a chat with Lucía Molo, technician of the “Living without discrimination” project.
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. What do you think international days are for?
One of the objectives of the initiative promoted by the United Nations to mark international days in the calendar is to draw attention and raise public awareness to a problem. These are issues where there is still much work to be done, which is why they are the perfect excuse to remind society and governments that they need to act.
What is racial discrimination?
According to European Union regulations, direct racial discrimination exists whena person is treated less favourably based on their race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin than another person in a comparable situation. It also recognises that discrimination can exist when people are treated differently in similar situations, but also when they are treated identically in different situations. This latter form of discrimination is called “indirect” because it is not the treatment that differs, but its effects, which affect different people with different characteristics in different ways.
Every day there are discriminatory incidents due to racial or ethnic origin, affecting refugees and immigrants, the Roma community, as well as other vulnerable groups. If we stop, for example, to read job vacancies, we are certain to find one which clearly specifies a preference for candidates of Spanish origin, thus excluding the foreign population.
How engaged do you think the population is with this issue? More or less than before?
I believe that society, generally speaking, does not intentionally or voluntarily discriminate against people of another race or ethnicity. Factors such as ignorance, fear of differences, prejudice and misinformation lead to discrimination. But I also believe that these situations arise as a result of insufficient political involvement that should, in my view, focus more efforts on prevention, public awareness and information.
In fact, the United Nations has acknowledged the rise in nationalist populism, with extremist ideologies of racial supremacy and superiority, thus producing more racist movements. In the latest UN Special Rapporteur’s report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of August 2018, she explains the contemporary use of digital technology in the propagation of neo-Nazi intolerance and related forms of intolerance. It points to recent trends and statements that exalt Nazism and other practices that contribute to the promotion of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.
How can discrimination be prevented?
First, the right to non-discrimination must be supported by legal safeguards that help to prevent this type of situation. In addition, information, training and awareness actions in interculturality and tolerance ethics must be reinforced . This goes for both citizens and government employees.
On the other hand, it is important that there be public policies that ensure non-discrimination. Spain has launched different actions in this regard: the creation of a Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) in the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security, the creation of the figure of delegated prosecutors for hate crimes and discrimination within the General Council of the Judiciary, the implementation of a system to gather incidents related to hate crimes and discrimination in the Ministry of the Interior and the Assistance Service for Victims of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination of the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliament Relations and Equality .
Is FIIAPP working on this issue? How?
The FIIAPP works directly in the fight against racial discrimination through a delegated cooperation project in the Kingdom of Morocco called “Living together without discrimination: an approach based on human rights and the gender dimension” funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for Stability in Africa of the European Union. The FIIAPP and the AECID participate in its management . It also collaborates with Spanish and Moroccan institutions such as OBERAXE, the Delegate Ministry in charge of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Migration Issues and the National Human Rights Council of Morocco.
What is the purpose of this project?
The main objective of the project is to reinforce instruments and public policies aimed at preventing and combating racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population in the Kingdom of Morocco. It seeks to strengthen the capacities of key institutional and non-state actors (civil society, media, private sector …) in the implementation of initiatives to prevent racism and xenophobia towards the migrant population, through accompaniment, exchange and transfer of knowledge.
Any reflection on the subject to make us all think?
One of the reflections that emerged repeatedly during the workshop organised by the EUROsociAL + programme on human mobility on 19 March was that everything looks different when we put ourselves in the shoes of the other person .
I like the idea raised by the NGO Movement against Intolerance that there is only one race: the human race. If people began to see each other as sisters and brothers, I am sure that it would not be long before we no longer had reason to mark this day.