23 April 2021
Although it is now common for several countries to jointly face global challenges, this is a relatively new phenomenon. The first commitment to multilateralism can be found just a century ago, in 1919, with the creation of the League of Nations. This first attempt was not very successful and demonstrated the difficulties that can arise when national interests have to be set aside for a greater cause.
During the last few decades the geopolitical scene has undergone major transformations such as a shift in the centres of power towards Asia and the Pacific, the loss of US hegemony, the appearance of new actors and the questioning of international institutions such as the WHO, the OECD and the IMF. We live in a time of fragmentation and volatility in which nationalism, individualism and mistrust challenge progress towards a more interconnected, global and united world. This makes it essential that actors such as the UN, the European Union and the states themselves reinforce their commitment to multilateralism in order to face the challenges of the present and the future. Starting with the recovery from a global pandemic that has reminded us of the importance of globalisation and the need to regulate global challenges.
The UN has been committed to multilateralism for 75 years. A clear example of this commitment is the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These common objectives, to which all UN member countries have committed themselves, address complex issues that transcend borders such as climate change, the eradication of poverty and reducing inequality.
Among all the SDGs, number 17 “Alliances to Achieve the Goals” is, perhaps, the most relevant. Despite being the last on the list, it is essential for achieving the other goals. International alliances and multilateralism are the basis for guaranteeing a joint response to challenges that are insurmountable at the national level.
As the most advanced integration process at the global level, the European Union is one of the actors most committed to multilateralism and to strengthening international alliances. Earlier this year, the European Commission presented a new strategy to strengthen the EU’s contribution to multilateralism based on universal norms and values.
In this strategy, the European Union establishes dialogue, multilateral governance and international cooperation as essential strategic priorities to ensure a safer world and a sustainable and inclusive global recovery. The European Union is clear that cooperation and joint work as Team Europe is the only possible way.
The European Union’s commitment to multilateralism is strongly supported by Spain. The External Action Strategy 2021-2024 presented at the end of January includes regional integration and the reinforcement of multilateralism as one of its four substantive strands. Spain has the determined will to contribute to improving global governance mechanisms by supporting integration processes and promoting a more integrated, effective and reinforced multilateralism.
Both the European Union and Spain include international cooperation as a fundamental tool for achieving these objectives. FIIAPP is working via public technical cooperation to accompany public policy reform processes, but also to generate spaces of trust and alliances between administrations.
Through the regional programmes in which the Foundation participates, harmonised responses are being generated in the face of shared challenges. This generates common standards, policies and values and encourages rapprochement in international forums in favour of multilateral governance and sustainable development which benefits citizens.
FIIAPP is firmly committed to multilateralism, dialogue and joint work between actors from around the world. Public technical cooperation offers public institutions the opportunity to foster dialogue and the exchange of experiences, as well as to consolidate not only relationships but also shared links with citizens around the world.
19 December 2019
Alma Martín Pérez, a support technician in the EU-Cuba Exchange of Experiences programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency reflects on programme participation at COP25 and the results of the summit.
The COP25 World Climate Summit expected more ambitious agreements on climate change neutrality by 2050. The frantic level of discussions and negotiations from the almost 200 countries participating in the summit relentlessly sought a last-minute consensus. Nonetheless, the CO2 emissions market and other relevant issues were postponed until Glasgow COP26, scheduled for November 2020.
Over two weeks, representatives from countries, international organisations, institutions and civil society produced figures that testify to the urgent need for action: The oceans are receiving 13,000,000 tonnes of plastic annually, increasing acidification of the seas is affecting fishing and impacts on food security. Three quarters of the planet are under threat, over one million species are at risk of extinction, greenhouse gases have reached a new high. The next 50 years will see 250 million to 1 billion environmental refugees. The data is overwhelming. Commitments are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the temperature rising by over 1.5 degrees.
Nonetheless, COP25 was not only about raising the alarm and the environmental emergency. It also offered spaces for awareness and dialogue to address environmental issues from a multi-disciplinary approach: biodiversity, gender, migration, town planning, industry, finance, technological development, etc. A wide range of topics to ensure that both specialists and the general public alike learn of the situation as it stands, without giving way to drama and pessimism, because there is still time to act.
Accordingly, FIIAPP worked closely with the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, helping to organise COP and promoting different activities, such as the panel on “Energy transition and economic investment opportunities in Cuba” in collaboration with the project coordinator Maite Jaramillo, Felice Zaccheo (European Commission Head of the Regional Programs Unit for Latin America and the Caribbean), Marlenis Águila (Director of Renewable Energies at the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines), Elaine Moreno (General Director of the National Energy Office in Cuba – ONURE), Ramsés Montes (Director of Energy Policy at ONURE) and Eric Sicart (Fira Barcelona). This event falls within the scope of the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, which is funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP. The main elements of the programme were highlighted at this event, along with the opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in developing renewable sources and using energy efficiently.
Island countries are directly subject to the consequences of climate change and are aware of how strongly environmental protection is linked to sustainable economic and social development. Formed by specialists from MINEM and ONURE, the Cuban delegation invited to the COP used the panel to announce the country’s ambitious policy to substantially reduce the use of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 by progressively increasing renewable energy sources and enhancing their use in the electric power generation matrix.
Beyond the COP, the international community has begun to take steps towards ecological transition. However, the challenge is to do so in time and justly and fairly to prevent a worsening of existing inequalities. The responsibility for change requires public policies by countries, international and regional organisations aimed at decarbonising the economy, adapting the current system to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
Even though the agreements reached at COP are not those envisaged, one thing has become evident in the course of the summit, namely, the interest of Spanish society in strengthening climatic action and in progressing towards CO2 emission neutrality. It is time to act and seek joint solutions.
31 October 2019
October 9 is World Post Day, which celebrates a form of communication that, despite all the advances made, continues to play a leading role in society. FIIAPP is working in North Macedonia to improve the quality of its postal services.
On October 9, 1874, the General Postal Union was founded within the framework of the Bern Convention. It would be renamed the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1878 and be the organization that regulated postal services worldwide. In 1948, this institution became a specialized agency of the United Nations.
According to the United Nations, the UPU is responsible for promoting and developing communication between nations, thereby enabling closer relations between postal services. Furthermore, for this three-year cycle, this institution wants to highlight innovation, integration and inclusion as being the three strategic cornerstones by which it is governed.
According to UPU data, every year around 368 billion letters and 6,4 billion packages are delivered by five million postal workers.
Due to new trends, which are currently changing the way we communicate, the UPU’s General Director, Bishar A. Hussein, points out that postal services “must be reinvented, adopt digitalization, redefine their value propositions and develop new products and services. They also need political support and investment, as well as a regulatory framework adapted to their activities”
World Post Day
October 9 saw the celebration of World Post Day, which was first declared at the 1969 UPU Congress held in Tokyo, Japan. On this occasion, it coincided with the 145th anniversary of the founding of the aforementioned UPU.
“It is worth reflecting on just how much our organization has helped humanity. The best way to celebrate our past is to fight for a better future. In this task, we were guided by the need to help humanity overcome its challenges, so that we can secure the future we all want for our planet. This is the best way to bring development and progress to the world”, said Bishar A. Hussein, General Director of the UPU.
There is no doubt that the postal sector contributes to the social and economic development of countries despite being an old but very useful means of social communication.
Although World Post Day does not have its own motto, it is celebrated in over 150 countries, who perform a range of activities such as the presentation and promotion of new postal services and products, rewarding employees for the work they do, the organization of exhibitions and trade fairs, the issuing of new stamps, the holding of conferences and workshops, as well as the sale of souvenirs and the holding of sports, cultural and educational events.
CORREOS and the Sustainable Development Goals
CORREOS (the National Postal Service of Spain) contributes to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by focusing on three fundamental mainstays: people, markets and supply chain.
In relation to SDG 13 on Climate Action, this nationally owned company has implemented cleaner distribution and delivery thanks to its 500 zero-emission vehicles, and has reduced its CO2 emissions by 13% compared to 2013.
Furthermore, CORREOS participated in the #ODSéate campaign, which ran from September 16 to 27, with the aim being to implement goal number four, namely that by 2020 the entire Spanish population must be familiar with the 2030 Agenda and respond to the changes that it proposes.
Furthermore, CORREOS is issuing a series of ‘Solidarity Stamps’, and on this occasion it dedicated it to the 2030 Agenda with a set of stamps that feature the logo of this proposal together with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
FIIAPP and CORREOS
The objective of the project funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP entitled ‘Strengthening the Capacities of the North Macedonia Postal Agency’ is to improve the quality of the postal services provided by the aforementioned company and the training of its employees. The project is set to last 18 months. The main focal points areas of the project are the regulatory framework, analytical accounting, postal inspection, letter boxes and market analysis.
Furthermore, it will lay the bases for preparing and adopting a new postal sector strategy. In particular, it will improve the administrative and regulatory capacity of the Postal Agency.
Project coordinator, Eva Picos, goes on to highlight the liaison work being done by FIIAPP and points out that, “FIIAPP has driven Spain’s participation in this project forward at the operational level by acting as go-between with the European Union. In general, the EU supports and guides us on a day-to-day basis in addition to being the institution that sees to the entire management process”.
04 July 2019
The Open Justice Strategy of the State Council of Colombia, supported by the ACTUE Colombia project, has received a stellar reform award.
Early last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the 6th Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership in Canada , a gathering that brought together two thousand people from 79 countries and 20 local governments who, along with civil society organizations, academics and other stakeholders, make up the Open Government Partnership (OGP). This year, the Summit revolved around three strategic priorities: participation, inclusion and impact.
During the inauguration, and to my surprise, the initiative that we supported in the ACTUE project – a project managed by FIIAPP with EU funding between 2014 and 2018 – was displayed on giant screens: the Open Justice Strategy in the State Council of Colombia as one of the “ Stellar Reforms” selected in the last OGP cycle. It was very exciting to be able to experience that tangible impact of one of our projects, something that we rarely get to experience. I was even more thrilled than when I saw the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau live, which is really saying something. And for good reason, too. These 12 commitments have been selected by the Independent Review Mechanism from among hundreds of others for showing evidence of preliminary results that mean significant advances in relevant and transformative political areas .
The Open Justice Strategy in the Council of State of Colombia has, for the first time, allowed the Court to begin publishing its previous agendas and decisions, as well as information on possible conflicts of interest of judges and administrative staff; essential aspects of public accountability, as well as enabling citizens and civil society to do their work of social control. In the long term, these changes can reduce corruption in justice institutions and allow them to regain the trust of citizens . Justicia Abierta is one of the political tendencies in open government that is gaining greater traction, given the major impact that its actions can have on citizens; In particular, access to justice makes it possible to exercise other rights. In addition, this sectoral action contributes directly to the advancement of the 2030 Agenda through goal 16, Peace, Security and Solid Institutions.
The ACTUE Colombia project was supporting the Transparency Secretariat of Colombia in the preparation of its OGP action plans, as well as civil society organizations, by using specialized technical assistance to promote the creation of a space for dialogue between administrations and civil society to define their own priorities in open government .
This is a good example of the positive impact that delegated cooperation can have, thanks to the flexibility and innovation they bring to our partners and the technical assistance on demand that we carry out.
About the ACTUE-Colombia project
The Anti corruption and Transparency Project of the European Union for Colombia (ACTUE-Colombia) has supported Colombian institutions in the implementation of key measures for a Open Territorial Government with the aim of making progress in the prevention of and fight against corruption both at the national and territorial levels. To this end, the project supported the creation of conditions for the fulfilment of international commitments, the strengthening of social control, the promotion of the co- responsibility of the private sector, and the generation of cultural and institutional changes .
The project is financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP in coordination with the Secretary for Transparency (ST) and Public Function (FP). It has assisted three regional governments, six city councils and two hospitals in areas such as applying the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, drafting Anti-Corruption and Citizen Information Plans (PAAC), fostering accountability and promoting public participation. It has thus helped officials to understand that the right to transparency and access to information is an essential right on which other rights depend. It has increased their awareness by institutionalizing advances in active transparency and their knowledge of how to identify and manage the risks of corruption.
Carolina Díaz, legal technician in the area of Justice and Security at FIIAPP and, between 2014 and 2018, member of the ACTUE Colombia team
28 February 2019
Climate change is increasingly evident. The FIIAPP is committed to sustainability through two projects focused on renewable energies and climate change: Cuba-Renewables and EUROCLIMA +.
Renewable energies are clean, inexhaustible resources provided by nature. Unlike fossil fuels, producing energy this way does not emit greenhouse gases or pollution, so it does not affect climate change.
At the Paris Climate Change Conference held in December 2015, otherwise known as COP21, 195 countries signed the world’s first binding climate agreement. This agreement establishes a global action plan to keep global warming below 2ºC between 2020 and 2030.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, if the share of renewable energies in the global energy scenario were doubled to 32% in 2030, this would improve wellbeing by 3.7% and increase employment in the sector to more than 24 million people.
There are numerous sources of renewable energy such as wind energy, solar energy (obtained from the sun), and hydro energy (obtained from rivers and freshwater flows), biomass and biogas (from organic matter), geothermal energy (obtained from the interior of the Earth), tidal energy, wave energy, bioethanol (obtained by fermenting vegetable products) and biodiesel (obtained from vegetable oils).
Renewable energy accounts for 46.7% of installed capacity in Spain. According to data extracted from the Report on the Spanish electricity system 2018 published by Red Eléctrica de España in 2018, renewable generation on the Peninsula increased from 33.7% to 40.1%.
What are the advantages of renewable energies?
As we have already said, renewable energy production does not emit greenhouse gases, so it’s a clean solution that avoids environmental damage and does not affect climate change.
Unlike traditional energy sources, renewable energies are also inexhaustible. These energies are as available as the sun they originate from and adapt to natural cycles .
Because they are developed in the regions where they are installed, they make regions more energy-autonomous.
Nor do they entail any risks to health since they are obtained naturally and can be used in all circumstances.
Transition to 100% renewable energy sources
LUT University and the Energy Watch Group have published a report that shows the viability of a European energy transition towards 100% renewable sources. This study shows what it would mean to start using 100% renewable energy sources as opposed to those currently available, eliminating fossil fuels in all sectors before 2050.
The study also highlights that electricity generation in the 100% renewable energy system will consist of a combination of solar, photovoltaic, wind, hydroelectric, bioenergy and geothermal energy sources .
The data published in this study “demonstrate that Europe can switch to a zero-emission energy system . Therefore, European leaders can and must do far more to protect the climate than what is on the table today”, said Hans-Josef Fell, chairman of the Energy Watch Group.
EUROCLIMA + and Cuba-Renovables
The FIIAPP participates in the management of two projects focused on climate change and renewable energies. On the one hand, the EUROCLIMA + programme, funded by the European Union, aims to promote environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient development in 18 Latin American countries, because in this region urban transport shows a continuous increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
“The fact that most of the population lives in cities, the use of public transport and a high index of renewable energy in the energy matrix, make Latin America an excellent scenario for sustainable mobility”, said Horst Pilger, sector head of the General Directorate of International Cooperation and Development of the European Union during COP24, held in December 2018.
On the other hand, the project for the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba, developed as a cooperation strategy between the EU and Cuba, also known as Cuba-Renovables, supports the effective implementation of the policy for the development perspective of renewable sources of energy and the efficient use of energy and its regulatory framework.
“We mustn’t forget that Cuba is a country rich in renewable resources and dependent on external fossil resources. Therefore, developing renewable energies would make an important contribution to the environment, and mean energy independence for the island, “says Maite Jaramillo, coordinator of the Cuba-Renovables project.
Likewise, “the FIIAPP will contribute with experts’ exchanges and based on the work experience we already have in the country and the understanding we have with Cuba. In addition, it will contribute to the creation of networks in the sector”, he says.
SDG 7: Guarantee access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy for all.
In 2015, world leaders adopted a series of global objectives, known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which aim to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and improve citizens’ rights. In the case of renewable energies, these are mentioned in SDG number seven, which aims to guarantee access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
“Energy is the main contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60% of all global greenhouse gas emissions”, says the United Nations in a report on this SDG.
14 February 2019
Miguel Ángel Lombardo, EVALÚA project coordinator, points out that with the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and their importance in society, there is a need to change international agendas
In recent times there has been a change in international development agendas, and also in the public policies of different countries, towards ever more comprehensive approaches which are less incrementalist than those seen before. To mention one example, if climate change is a global issue that affects different sectors and multiple territories, does it make sense to focus on cities, to reduce emissions in central hubs or in restricted areas? It may not have a significant impact in terms of reducing emissions, but it does have a significant impact in terms of changing the development model and its relationship with cities. It is not a matter of summing efforts together city by city—this is never-ending—and achieving certain goals, but one of changing behaviour from one generation to another.
In terms of the international agenda, this trend has been marked by the acceptance by most countries of a series of objectives that shape development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is as if these countries are committing themselves to a de facto renewal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 10 December 1948, just 70 years ago. These newer development goals focus on poverty, hunger, health, water, industry and climate, among other issues, and they focus on a different way of doing things.
An interesting example of this is the work of groups of women who, in the 1980s, fled the war in Guatemala to find refuge in the southern areas of Mexico, then later, on their return to Guatemala, they managed to promote substantial changes in the communities where they were resettled. These are processes that occurred outside the major axes of the social and political conflict that marked the cities, neighbourhoods and rural areas, the counterinsurgency struggle and violence, but they were able to articulate a sense of community that would become essential at the time when democracy was re-established. Once the women achieved co-ownership of the land in the communities to which they returned, there was a change in power relations, and if that is accompanied by organisation and leadership, as was the case, it can lead to other changes in terms of the participation and political representation of women at the national level.
The new vision that the SDGs promote consists of the analysis of problems from a broader perspective and in promoting changes in power relations, not just in progress measured in percentages for compartmentalised goals. To this we must add what we already knew, that both civil society and the local sphere play a very important role in the implementation of public policies.
As the rationale behind the SDGs is not incrementalist, it has a great potential to encompass actions that arise in local and civil society spheres, and it is not limited to drawing up lines of action in which the State is the only player. It is here where the impact of small, locally supported actions can be very positive at the national and even global level.