13 July 2021
Posteado en : Entrevista
We interviewed the tax specialist Cristina García-Herrara, Director of Studies at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and expert in the EUROsocial cooperation programme
Cristina García-Herrera is a specialist in taxation and Director of Studies of the Institute for Tax Studies. In this interview she tells us about her experience as an expert on the programme regarding tax cooperation with Latin America EUROsociAL.
What has been the greatest achievement of your experience as an expert on the FIIAPP–EUROsociAL+ programme?
My greatest achievement in this project is having helped the Institute for Fiscal Studies to continue to be a key partner in the EUROsocial programme, assisting the IEF in its longstanding work in building stronger public finances in Latin American countries with the support and help of specialists and public employees in Spain.
What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the role that the Spanish Ministry of Finance, and the Institute in particular, has played in the EUROsocial project over these years, due to the high degree of involvement of public-sector employees, the enthusiasm that exists about contributing to the improvement, the strengthening of public finances in Latin American countries and about a job well done by the entire team.
How has your assignment contributed to improving the lives of people and the planet?
I believe that through fiscal policy, the EUROsocial programme contributes from both a tax and budgetary perspective as a key element for the development of countries and the improvement of people’s living conditions. Changes in the structure of public income and expenditure have an impact on the distribution of households’ disposable income, on the securing of the fundamental right to equality, on the improvement of public services and ultimately on the achievement of a solid welfare state that provides a better life for all and, in particular, for the least fortunate.
What is the main value of the public aspect of this for you?
For me, the main value of the public aspect is the protection of general interests. In times of economic crisis, as is the case with the pandemic that we are still experiencing, the public response from countries has been solid. It has demonstrated the relevance of continuing to be committed to State intervention in the economy to correct market failures.
What have you learned from this experience?
I have learned a lot, both personally and professionally. I have been able to share and exchange ideas with officials and policy makers from a large number of countries. But, above all, I have learned the importance of peer collaboration. Assistance to Latin America is always a win-win, we receive more than we give, and that improves us, both professionally and personally.
25 May 2021
Posteado en : Reportage
The Spanish government recently presented Africa Focus 2023, a Spanish foreign policy action plan for its relations with African countries. FIIAPP, a participant in Spanish activities abroad, will continue to implement this plan through public technical cooperation. We have been doing this with projects that address migration management and the fight against human trafficking as well as the fight to combat Jihadist terrorism and corruption.
Shared interests, development potential and growing geopolitical weight make Africa is a strategic partner for Spain and the European Union. This is an enormous, complex region, with significant political, economic and social diversity . Africa faces major common challenges, from instability in regions like the Sahel and the scourge of terrorism to vulnerability to the effects of climate change, economic and social development and security and control over migration routes with an integral approach.
These challenges do not affect African countries alone. The consequences affect the entire planet, including the European Union. Which is why Spain and the European Union are working to improve relations with Africa , offering support in its efforts to address these challenges as far as possible.
The EU-African Union Summits will consist of meetings and dialogue between Africa and the European Union. The document “Towards a Global Strategy with Africa” was published last year by the European Commission and establishes five priority lines of association: ecological transition and access to energy; digital transformation; sustainable growth and employment; peace and governance; and migration and mobility. The strategy will be used as a framework for strengthening relations with Africa ahead of the 6th EU-AU Summit scheduled for this year.
Spain has also compiled its main strategies for relations with the African continent in its 3rd Africa Plan. With the basis premise “Spain and Africa: challenge and opportunity“, it advocates a new approach to Africa based on shared interests and a broad consensus among the main Spanish players on the continent.
The strategic objectives in the 3rd Africa Plan define the main areas of action: ensure peace and security in the region, foster inclusive, resilient economic growth, institutional strengthening and working for orderly, regular and safe mobility. All this considering five cross-cutting principles: differentiation; association; multilateralism; human rights and gender equality; and unity of action.
The 3rd Africa Plan defines the general lines that will govern Spain-Africa relations in the coming years. To implement this strategy, the Spanish government has published the Focus Africa 2023 action programme. The document will guide the activities of all government institutions in Africa and specify activities until the end of the current legislature in 2023.
Focus Africa 2023 is a part of the recently presented External Action Strategy 2021-2024. It is also aligned with the objectives and priorities of the African Union’s 2030 Agenda and 2063 Agenda . The action plan elucidates the four main objectives of the 3rd Africa Plan and establishes seven main areas.
Partners for Peace and Security
Security is an essential prerequisite for implementing development policies. Africa 2023 Focus pays special attention to the Sahel region and establishes it as a priority area to work by the Union. The document cites the work of the Rapid Action Groups (GAR) as examples of good practices in the region. We work with these Guardia Civil units to ensure regional stability through the GARSI-Sahel project, which is managed by FIIAPP. We also work with the GAR to better protect public spaces against terrorist attacks as part of the CT Public Spaces project in Ghana, Kenya and Senegal.
We also work in countries including Mauritania, supporting maritime security; Morocco, promoting the development of the Presidency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in collaboration with the General Prosecutor’s Office and in Mozambique , where we are helping to strengthen judicial institutions and anti-corruption mechanisms.
Partners for the development of sustainable, fair and inclusive economies, African regional integration and the fight against climate change
Economic growth and the fight against climate change must go hand-in-hand with social cohesion policies to ensure that no one is left behind. Spain will work with African countries to implement policies that encourage a just transition. Regional integration is another priority, and initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Economic Community of West African States will receive support.
We are about to start a new project to support civil society in local governance in Angola. The objective is to contribute to economic growth and social development in the country through inclusive, heterogeneous and effective participation by civil society in the local governance process.
Partners to boost Spanish trade, business presence and investment in Africa
The priority sectors identified are in this area are agri-food; water, sanitation and waste treatment; engineering and consulting; energy, particularly renewable energy; transport infrastructures; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; and digital transformation, a priority for the European Union and Spain alike.
Effective intellectual property and patent management is essential to ensure investment and business development. In Egypt , we are supporting improvements to the Egyptian Patent Office, particularly in the area of digitalisation. We also have a project that is working to digitalise education in Algeria in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Partners for strengthening global public services – health, water and sanitation
Africa Focus 2023 prioritises strengthening the health systems in African countries. The pandemic has highlighted the need for strong, resilient health systems able to cope with future challenges similar to COVID-19.
Humanitarian action partners
Humanitarian action will focus on food security and nutrition, protection and education in emergencies. Another priority area is the protection of women and girls in conflict situations.
Partners to promote gender equality and empower women and girls
In line with the government’s intention to develop a feminist foreign policy, it is doubling down on its commitment to support the empowerment of women and girls in all its foreign activities. Among the measures proposed are the promotion of a Women, Peace and Security agenda and more determined interventions to stamp out female genital mutilation.
The gender perspective is a transversal approach applied to all the projects in which FIIAPP is a participant. However, this aspect is getting particular attention in Morocco through the Living Without Discrimination project and in Burkina Faso through the Bridging the Gap disability programme.
Partners for migration and mobility management. Collaboration in the fight against irregular migration and human trafficking networks and encouraging orderly, legal and safe migration
Irregular migration and human trafficking are risky for their victims. Spain is collaborating with security forces in Africa to deal with this problem. FIIAPP is assisting with the fight through projects such as A-TIPSOM. This European cooperation project works to combat human trafficking and irregular migrant smuggling in Nigeria , prioritising women, girls and boys, the main victims of trafficking.
With the National Police Joint Investigation Teams we work through the ECI Niger project to support the government of Niger in the fight against criminal networks , irregular immigration and human trafficking. In Senegal we are also working to improve this problem through the POC project to quash irregular immigration and trafficking.
Development cooperation plays a fundamental and essential role in putting the actions in Africa Focus 2023 into practice. FIIAPP is working in Africa to further the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals by fostering knowledge sharing with public institutions. We do this under the auspices of the European Union, following the guidelines set out in the External Action Strategy 2021-2024, the 3rd Africa Plan and, now, by Africa Focus 2023. The success of the projects in Africa shows the need to continue cooperating in the region and promoting development-oriented public policies to improve citizens’ lives. Public cooperation, for people and the planet.
06 May 2021
Borja Jiménez Muñoz, Prosecutor of the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office writes this opinion article in which he looks into the work of the Prosecutor’s Office and its participation and involvement in cooperation projects for the improvement of judicial systems worldwide.
The FIIAPP slogan “from the public to the public” is reassuring. It transmits a collective objective of institutional collaboration independent of specific interests, and makes us feel that what we do together is positive and can have an effective impact on the improvement of judicial systems in different parts of the world, because we are doing it in the public sector. I know this from my own experience as a former resident adviser on a twinning project in Serbia, through which I got to know the FIIAPP, make wonderful friends and connect with the view of the Spanish Prosecutor as a specialised professional who can export the best image of Spain.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor is well established in such tasks of institutional cooperation and the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office has been cooperating with the FIIAPP since the latter was created in 1998 and has been growing, managed through the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office (UCIF). I can affirm that our relationship is permanent, complex and positive and, of course, public.
It is permanent because, despite the fact that we have a small staff, made up of only 2,571 prosecutors – not at all comparable with the number of other groups in the field of Justice such as judges, lawyers from the Justice Administration or policemen, among others – and, of them, no more than 30-40 participate in international activities, our presence in Justice and Interior projects is very significant: not only do we currently have four Prosecutors abroad and FIIAPP staff coordinating twinning, delegated cooperation or similar projects, but our participation in short-term missions is also permanent. For example, last year in 2020, despite the pandemic, around 30 Spanish prosecutors participated in as many FIIAPP missions, not forgetting their participation in other institutions, such as AECID, in activities derived from the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors (AIAMP) of which the UCIF is general secretary and EU projects such as EUROMED, among others. This implies commitment.
It is complex. Those of us who are involved in the management have different institutional profiles and participate in different corporate cultures. The Prosecutor’s Office does not have the objective of cooperating abroad, our function is to promote the action of Justice and its original vision had nothing to do with the current challenges abroad. Today we have a Prosecutor of the highest professional category (Chief Prosecutor) in charge of international cooperation, who is convinced of the importance of such technical cooperation. And also a Unit of the Attorney General dedicated to this, which includes criminal judicial cooperation and institutional cooperation with third countries, which is an achievement that stems from a personal commitment of a few prosecutors who believed in what today seems to be a obvious. This structure’s dialogue with the FIIAPP generates complexity, in aspects such as the design of activities, human resources issues, institutional relations… Complexity causes difficulties, but the key is understanding, which exists despite the limited human resources that the UCIF has to carry out its work.
It is positive. FIIAPP has made the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office grow and given it projection and has enabled it to expand worldwide the knowledge and experienceof an institution that offers specialisation as one of its principal assets, enabling us to create and strengthen sister Prosecutor’s offices and other institutions, through twinning and other projects. Without this list being exhaustive, we have been right at the forefront in Slovakia, Poland, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Peru and, now again, in Albania, Morocco, Colombia, not forgetting our permanent participation in missions in Latin America, East Africa, Mozambique… In this way, our ideas have borne fruit. I know what I’m saying. We believe that FIIAPP has also benefited from this impact.
It is public. The slogan is a permanent reminder of an essential factor: FIIAPP is the vehicle for Spanish cooperation and the Prosecutor’s Office as a public institution carries out its foreign mission under the cover of that umbrella. Spanish Prosecutors do not participate in missions managed by private consultancies, except for justifiable exceptions, on the understanding that public servants cannot compete with public institutions by providing services to companies that compete for the same project. From the public to the public means this and we are proud to defend it.
What do we expect for the future? To maintain the intensity of our cooperation and to highlight the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office as an institution capable of demonstrating the best of Spain abroad. To that end, we need FIIAPP. But we also need to become more visible and move towards a deeper relationship. We have shared experiences that tell us that projects are only successful if they are planned well, if their beneficiaries are identified, if the experts are selected and properly looked after, if the FIIAPP team is qualified and flexible and, therefore, it is necessary to establish new relationship formulas.
FIIAPP and us, us and FIIAPP. A complex, necessary, useful framework that gives us wings. Long may it last.
Borja Jiménez Muñoz. Prosecutor of the International Cooperation Unit of the State Attorney General’s Office
18 March 2021
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
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.