In the last newsletter of 2019, President Abdessamad Sekkal said that 2020 would be a key year in terms of development policies and international meetings. Five years have passed since the approval of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, whose 17 objectives are to be achieved in 2030. It has also been essential for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and to show strong involvement in the implementation of the Paris Agreement for the reduction of greenhouse gases. However, 2020 was not the key year we had hoped for. 2020 was the year of the pandemic! And the objectives, the SDGs, not only failed to make progress, but they went backwards…
This year, which has been disastrous in many ways, however, has not been that rough on ORU-Fogar.
I think we have been helpful, especially in the early stages of the pandemic. When there was a lot of confusion in all territories, we provided reliable information on the health alert. The reliable information is from the World Health Organization, but of all the information produced by the WHO, it is important to choose the information that can be the most interesting.
We first sent the basic recommendations: recommendations which then became unavoidable, regarding handwashing, social distancing, prevention, restriction of public events, the use of masks…
Subsequently, we disseminated an online course for the health sector, a manual on managing a center for coronavirus patients and the recommendation websites of our partners, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, which were among the first to suffer from this crisis and have developed instruments that can be replicated.
We have disseminated by all possible means the work of the regions in this alarming situation. And we brought out our help to all who asked us to do so, especially when it was about: finding medical equipment, managing the donations of masks, taking care of the citizens of our member regions who were in other countries… Through ORU-Fogar, for example, medical equipment was distributed and sent by the Chinese Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development.
Over the weeks, beyond the health issue, food alerts have taken on a new dimension and we relied on our long and historic relationship with the FAO. We have disseminated FAO recommendations and reports, with summaries that we have prepared. Which recommendations? They are numerous, but more specifically about the preservation, protection and strengthening of all food supply chains at the local, regional, national and international levels. In addition to these recommendations, we have organized meetings of the FAO management with our members.
While all face-to-face events disappearing from the agendas, the ORU-Fogar remained at the heart of the network. This is why we have set up the “We Connect” Forum to explain the actions of the regions against the coronavirus. A space in which health, social, food and economic recovery measures are explained. As it was not possible to organize the award ceremony for our Regional Best Practices Award in person, it was moved to a virtual format and was a success. With the participation of the five winners, the ceremony was viewed by over 500 people. More than 80 regions were connected to the sessions “Funding opportunities for the Latin American and African regions” in the presence of representatives of the European Commission. And we launched the Positive Conversations, an initiative that will go on in 2021 and is an invitation to reflect on post-COVID-19 governance.
In addition to all these initiatives, 2020 has been a year of consolidation for ORU-Fogar in terms of its presence in the Global Agenda. While 2014 and 2015 were years of strengthening the organization’s structures and the following years of solidifying a communication strategy, 2020 was a year of presence in multiple forums. If in February we were still present at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, we were virtually present at the European Week, the High-Level Political Forum or the 75th anniversary ceremonies of the United Nations. This move to the virtual sphere had the merit of giving voice to many regions that generally did not have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the global debate. In this sense, we were very pleased, for example, to give a region as distressed as Nariño in Colombia the opportunity to make its voice heard at the World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace.
What will the year 2021 be like? We have already seen that it is impossible to make predictions. In any case, we intend to continue to strengthen ourselves and we have proposed to work on the construction of the ORU-Fogar training school. Throughout the history of our organization, various initiatives have been promoted in this area. It is time, however, to articulate and build something more permanent, at the service of the training of technical and political executives of the regions. This is an objective for 2021 and, to begin with, we have already programmed, during the months of February and March, the course “Methods and Tools for the Elaboration of a Territorial Strategic Plan”.
Best wishes to all and may 2021 be a year of progress for a governance close to the territory and the citizens.