The future in our hands

Carles Llorens

Secretary General ORU Fogar

We ended 2018 with plenty of cause for concern. If in December the Katowice COP24 on Climate Change was very close to failure; in November, the COP14 on Biological Diversity of Sham-El-Sheikh revealed a panorama in which the destruction of ecosystems does not stop.

In the run-up to the COP in Poland, the French ‘Yellow Vests’ took centre stage. It was a movement that – beyond social discontent – was mobilised through an increase in taxes on fossil fuels, which was to finance the energy transition. Bad beginning coming from the country from which the ‘Paris Agreement’ came, bad beginning from the country that wanted to be a vanguard in the fight against Climate Change, but in which its charismatic Minister of the Environment resigns.

The inauguration of the summit was not better, in which Polish President Andrezj Duda defended the use of coal, in front of a disconcerted Patricia Espinosa, responsible for the fight against climate change at the United Nations.

New setback when in the first session, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kwait refuse to validate the report of the United Nations experts, which states that emissions are not only not being reduced, but are increasing. It is the report that, with data in hand, states that – if emissions continue – the global rise in temperatures could be 3.5 degrees, which will mean rising sea levels, floods, droughts, reduced agricultural production and extreme weather.

During the week, Brazil and Turkey showed signs of wanting to align themselves with climate denialism. On the other hand, China and the island countries are leading the defence of the ‘Paris Agreement’. With this situation, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, addressed the plenary of the conference in a dramatic appeal in which he called for “a global commitment to avoid the worst. In spite of the appeal, the Summit ended with a minimum agreement and the commitment to meet again for the COP25, which will finally be held in Chile as Brazil has renounced to organize it.

In this context, the wilful effort of the regions, meritoriously coordinated by nrg4SD, is a small but luminous beacon.

The COP14 in Egypt didn’t draw a good picture either. The previous technical report indicated that the Aichi Goals for 2020 were not going to be met, in a disastrous scenario of disappearance of habitats and species. Attention was drawn to the danger that, in many countries, especially some African ones, the obtaining of proteins for a very important part of the population continued to depend on hunting wild species. In a context of population growth, this fact towards predicting that many habitats would be devastated.

Here again regions and nrg4SD are taking the initiative and becoming beacon.

For many, this panorama is undoubtedly an invitation to pessimism. It is not, however, an invitation to pessimism for the regions and intermediate governments of the world. It is not for the states of the United States that, in defiance of President Trump, have assumed the Paris Agreement. It is not for the governors of Latin America who are promoting projects on food sovereignty, decent work, or for the presidents of African regions that protect green schools. And it is not for European regions which, faced with xenophobic national governments, have to receive refugees and make policies of inclusion for immigration.

All these people, all these governments of human dimension, do not grieve in the face of centralism, nor do they lose in the political-administrative loop, nor in the sterile political debate, nor in indecision. They are people who act. 2019 is going to be their year. 2019 must be their year. Ours!


The not won, but the peace process is irreversible in Colombia.


Sensed that he was not strong, and yesterday I did a tweet alerting a vote unrest could act as it did in England, with Brexit. But we no longer astonished when, counting on has not happened to it. Finally, it has not won the by 50.22% against 49.77.

As we got here? The malaise that is output such calls to the polls, I think, is the first factor. Then there Uribe’s speech, noting concessions to their paper, the FARC excessive, voted by many people share. But the speech of churches, Catholic and Protestant, who have defended it openly, without the Pope’s words, at the last minute, there have no influence.

Uribe and Santos won narrowly, whose career is totally played, lost narrowly. Who has lost much, however, are the FARC. Arouse deep hatred. The 50.22% against 49.77 in favor and voted against them. Has rejected the concessions were made. Thus, their joys televised celebrated the signing of the agreement as a victory over the Colombian State have made sense fatal to many people who have not finished voting.

All this could lead to a situation of collective • collapse that blocked the process and bring the country to a dead end. The reactions of the night were, however prodigious, stirring a negative situation, an opportunity. The first to react positively was not the campaign, led by the uribisme. Francisco Santos, Uribe’s number two, no one has come first saying that the peace process had been followed and that only modify some points of the agreement.

President Santos, after recognizing the victory of not convene said his supporters had to see what path to follow. He explained that the ceasefire was still in force and promised to continue looking for peace. Even the leader of the FARC, Timoshenko has had a positive reaction, saying he regretted the outcome of the referendum, but they were committed to continue to seek peace.

All in all, then, an incredible year of maturity on the part of all parties, and in the end also a healthy democratic exercise.



President Juan Manuel Santos.


Visiting polling stations with Paul Carrasco, president ORU fogar

International observers at the plebiscite for Peace in Colombia.


Saturday, October 1, the National Electoral Council will meet all international observers. A total of 200 people including notable personalities, among which two Nobel Prize winners Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Rigoberta Menchu, two former presidents Alvaro Colom of Guatemala and Martin Torrijos of Panama, together with the IDB president Enrique Iglesias.

Explain work with the plebiscite and deployment that has been done to organize it, with a margin very short time. 34 million citizens will vote in 11,034 polling places.

President Santos and we will address that insists, despite all the constitutional powers to sign this agreement with the FARC has always been clear that it had to endorse the people of Colombia. And tomorrow, the polling will not value their vote, like any other citizen. Says that tomorrow, October 2, 2016 will be a historic day to decide the future and leave behind the past of war.

Insists on legal and constitutional correctness of the agreement, he insists, respects all international treaties signed by the country. I stressed that this correction also includes much what they called transactional justice. Affirming that the resolution of this conflict “the most cruel and old” continent, will have very positive effects for the region.

I am well convinced these efectos positive in the region. For years, a large part of the territory has no control of the Colombian state, this has allowed the cultivation of coca and its traffic has had dramatic consequences. And it has ruined streets of cities from the United States, to upset all the security of Mexico, without forgetting who corruput policy across the continent. With a portion of the crop under control, improvements can get everywhere.

In a subsequent meeting, negotiators Humberto de la Calle Sergio Jaramillo and explain the details of the agreement, forged during six months of secret negotiations and four years of public negotiations in Havana. Humberto de la Calle explains that negotiation was approached as a very practical. “It was not convèrcer he explains to the other anything, we just see how we finished the conflict.” In extensive, as we argued, to address the causes, had to tackle the endemic problem of recovering the Colombian countryside and, thus, the agreement contains an agrarian reform, but also addresses the problem of drug trafficking, raising a replacement crops. The negotiator also devotes much attention to explaining how to address the issue of justice. States that there will be a atmistia for those who may be misdemeanors, but not a general atministia, for serious crimes -of all parts- be judged.

Sergio Jaramillo explains that transcends understanding agreement with the FARC because, background, posed expel violence is the political system. Refers hundreds of deaths of all political stripes, including 542 councilors, and states that the agreement must ensure that all those involved in politics will not be victims of violence.

Listening to the negotiators, a category of people is unusual, you realize that beyond the rhetoric that accompanies such documents, the agreement is very series. Addresses issues that are very basic and profound reason of the conflict. There are some points on which ceded to the FARC, which seem unacceptable to a large part of public opinion in Colombia. Positions are understandable when you consider that many people have suffered a cruel everyday violence for many years. If you want peace, but always has to give. From this point of view, President Santos has a huge merit. If listening to De la Calle Jaramillo and discover agree very well engineered, listening to President Santos realize that there was an openness and generosity very important. An openness that you would like for many other latitudes.

In any case, only a restlessness in the air: the referendum, instead of validating or not an agreement can be a very important opportunity for citizens to express their discontent. We hope that the referendum does not pass the Colombian succeeir that the British referendum on Brexit.




With Paul Carrasco, president ORU Fogar, greeting Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize in 1980.


With Humberto de la Calle, chief negotiator of the agreement with the FARC.


With former Senator Piedad Córdoba, old acquaintance who had visited several times in Barcelona. She was the first to talk peace with the FARC, which was disabled.

The difficulties of intermediate governments to fight climate change

IMG-20160901-WA0000II Climate Change Summit of the Americas.

Jalisco, Mexico, August 31, 2016.

Since my condition ORU FOGAR Secretary General, ex officio, I congratulate the State of Jalisco and its governor to put regional-sub-intermediate governments in the center of the fight against climate change. For those who work with these governments it is quite obvious that governments are key intermediates in this war. Central governments should legislate and create policy frameworks conducive. The tasks which may mitigate global warming are, however, basically regions, provinces or federated states. Spatial planning, mobility, infrastructure development and regional development are competences of intermediate government.

It is comforting, on the other hand, listening to a UN representative, as Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat for Climate Change, doing so clear the role of intermediate government recognition. It has not always been the case and is not always so.

At this point I must draw attention, however, about the fact that, despite being the most well posicionados- intermediate governments do not always have the necessary instruments. Very often they do not have enough skills or when they have them have no clear legal framework. To put the worst end of Latin America, in Chile, there are regional councils elected by the citizens, but with a purely consultative role. Who has the regional power is a prefect appointed by the central government.

What most anguish today, anyway, to intermediate governments around the world is the lack of adequate funding of its powers. Last April, in Rio de Janeiro, our meeting was a cry of intermediate governments of all latitudes demanding adequate funding.

The governors of Paraguay denounced bitterly that only 2% of public budgets were regionalized. Colombians explained the financial strangulation representing them have been only the tax on alcoholic beverages. The governor of Rio, Amfitrion, now bankrupt, suffered in those days the demonstrations of pensioners for non-payment of pensions. Moroccan, Senegalese, Kenyans, costaiborianos is also of insufficient resources complained. And, what to say, Spain. It is no longer the cry of Catalonia denouncing the “fiscal suffocate” to which it is subjected. Today Valencia and the Balearic Islands raised in very similar terms that have no resources to pay for the services of the powers assigned to them.

This problem of distribution of resources has always been a topic of great debate, often tension between central and regional governments. The crisis, however, has compounded the issue. With unusual frencuencia, central governments have taken advantage of the general lack of resources to recentralise, often skills, almost always funding. And in a tricky explanation, they have cut resources to the interim government, whether federal states, provinces, regions or prefectures towards greater efficiency.

Yesterday, in the room dedicated to cooperation, everyone complained that international cooperation was moving from donors to recipients central states central states, but without any intermediate governments game.

And at this point we need to ask ourselves: can the governors of Paraguay fight against climate change to 2% of the country’s resources? That public transport policy can the government of Rio when you can not pay the pensions of retirees? And Catalunya, by capabilities, political will, can be a leader among intermediate governments on the issue of climate change, but what resources can assign you if you have to cut means-for example in hospitals and waiting list patients accumulate?

I think it is appropriate that, in forums like this, let’s be clear. All you are explaining here may be in fine words or at best, in a naive political will, if we are not able to solve this problem which-when the truth drowns intermediate governments. And let’s face also just giving priority to the urgent, the important front. And so, only resources to combat climate change when the rest has been taken care of, why prevent global warming, today, still not served in most of our countries to win the next elections are dedicated.

From ORU Fogar and the extent of our possibilities we are helping our members to alleviate this situation. We have supported nrg4SD and our members have signed Regions Adapt, giving methodology and means to manage climate change control policies. We also support our members to make, particularly European multilateral projects, enabling them to finance projects. And well recently, with R-20, we have an agreement with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will allow us to finance climate change projects 10 ORU FOGAR member regions. Meanwhile, try that if the cooperation of the central states bypasses the territory, decentralized cooperation, European regions, if passing through the regions where it is needed.

All this, however, anecdotal resuta against the abyss which is the lack of resources intermediate governments to address the needs. And so we cry out to be very difficult for intermediate Gobienos make policy to combat climate change if we do not have enough resources. And while each region or national group of regions should see how this debate with their respective central government, ORU Fogar should plan it in all possible forums it arises. In this sense, I end up with a very specific order and to a very specific person. We ask Patricia Espinosa, while UN representative, having heard their complicity for us us to include in his speech a very specific mention referring -a no-brainer that the fight against climate change subnational governments they need sufficient funding.

Regions are seeking joint responses to Climate Change

Representatives of regions and cities from around the world met last 1st and 2nd of July in Lyon, in ORU’s French region of Rhône-Alpes, for the World Summit on Climate and Territories, one of the largest meetings as far as climate change is concerned. The main aim of the event, preparatory for the Paris COP21, was to set up the future mechanisms and engagements with a territorial and regional approach to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions by the year 2020.

ORU has participated in the Summit through the organisation, together with ROPPA (Réseau des Organisations Paysannes & de Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) of an Agriculture workshop with the cooperation of FAO and the AVSF (Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – Association de Solidarité Internationale pour les Agricultures Paysannes et Familiales). The aim of the workshop, held on the 2nd of July, was to reach consensus on the adoption of a territorial action plan with strong, transversal and global proposals for the rural and agricultural development. One of the areas of greater concern was the rural exodus that is causing a critical depopulation of rural areas and an accelerated urbanisation of the cities.   “In 2050, according to current forecasts, 80% of the population will live in the cities”, stated Carles Llorens, ORU’s secretary general, “it is therefore essential to halt the rural exodus and to give an appropriate balance to territories”.

ORU’s commitment with the decisions made in the World Summit on Climate and Territories was reflected in the signature of theGeneral Declaration “Establishing a territorial action policy in response to the climate challenge”. Signed by 50 organisations in representation of local and regional governments, among which ORU and many of its members, the declaration has become the most supported to date by non-state actors. Other representatives from ORU’s members present at the Summit were nrg4SD, the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro, ARF, AIRF, the Champagne-Ardenne region and the governments of Catalonia and Euskadi.  Amongst the general conclusions of the event, we could highlight the need to mobilize non-state actors in the decision-making processes and the leading of new initiatives in the fight against climate change. Local, regional and territorial action is essential to create possible and real scenarios for climate’s stabilization.

ORU prepares for the 2015 Montevideo Executive Bureau

ORU’s Secretariat-General met last 8th and 9th of June with Uruguay’s Congreso de Intendentes (Congress of Governors) to start preparations for ORU’s next Executive Bureau, to be held in Montevideo on the 24th and 25th of September. Given that the event will be hosted by the Congress of Governors, the Secretary-General of our organisation, Carles Llorens, met in the Plenary Hall with some of the Congress’ members: Humberto Castro, political adviser, Jorge Machado, Director for the International Relations and Cooperation Unit and Nicolás Canessa, Secretary of such Unit, as well as Ambassador Jorge Seré, representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

One of the topics dealt with in the meeting was the hosts’ proposal to hold a parallel seminar on global cross-border experiences. Entitled “Intermediate Governments’ cross-border policies”, the seminar will take place on the 25th of September in the context of the Executive Bureau and will involve governors from Argentinian provinces, Brazilian states, and Paraguayan and Bolivian departments. Besides, it will provide an account of European cross-border policies experiences, as it will benefit from the presence of European regional presidents and the Secretariat-General of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), member of ORU.

In order to start outlining the seminar’s program, ORU’s Secretariat-General visited the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met with César Ferrer, general director for Borders, Boundaries and Maritime Affairs as well as with some of the governors that will take part in the seminar, like José Ivo Sartori, Governor of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul.