2020: A Virtual Year for ORU-Fogar

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.

How the pandemic affected the 2030 Agenda

Carles Llorens

General Secretary of ORU Fogar

Speed up actions in favor of the SDGS 

The year 2020 was said to be a key year in terms of the implementation of the SDGs. In fact, it’ll be 5 years on September 25, since the approval of the 2030 Agenda, with its 17 goals to be achieved within 10 years, in 2030. 2020 is also the key year for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and to show a firm involvement in the implementation of the Paris Agreement for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Before COVID19, the results of these agendas already showed little results. For instance, Goal 2 “Zero Hunger”, to which ORU Fogar is so strongly committed, had a rather dismal evaluation. It was compromised by wars, social crises and climate change … The latest FAO annual report clearly indicates that, in the last three years, hunger has increased and today there are more than 821 million people affected around the world.

The overall assessment related to the application of the Paris Agreement, on the other hand, is not doing well either. In 2018, the consumption of oil, gas and coal was higher than ever. The public awareness campaign sounded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did not provoke any reaction.

The arrival of the coronavirus with its serious health, economic, social and political consequences, endanger the realization of the SDGs, there is a decline in the objectives already achieved. Let’s have a look at some tangible solutions.

Let’s start with SDG 1, the end of poverty. According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 crisis will cause between 40 and 60 million people to fall into extreme poverty. This will affect women, single-parent families, immigrants, elderly people in rural areas … This destroys all the progress made in the last 5 years. The same goes for everything related to SDG 2 dedicated to the eradication of hunger. The ORU Fogar regions, all over the world, have seen with their own eyes how food supply chains were broken and how the export and import processes were interrupted. This has directly affected the availability of food. Forecasts say that the crisis could affect 250 million people, especially in Africa.

Obviously the pandemic, has equally affected the SDG 3 dedicated to health and welfare. As serious as this situation is, it has shown the great weakness of the health systems of many countries. Another obvious point is that SDG 4, related to quality education, has been affected. According to UNESCO data, “290 million students have lost their classes” and it is evident that technological alternatives to classes have increased social gaps. The SDG 8, that of decent work… It is not even worth arguing that the coronavirus will have disastrous effects on this objective…

Needless to state the other SDGS as the observations would be the same, they would all be affected by the pandemic…

In this context, how should we position ourselves? We believe that more than ever it is necessary to ratify in favor of the 2030 Agenda and that the initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations to Accelerate Actions in favor of the SDGs should be welcomed. In such a complex and conflicting world, Agenda 2030 had achieved unprecedented consensus and commitment. Never has global governance had such a transparent mandate. Thus, the 2030 Agenda must continue to be the frame of reference. The pandemic must not weaken the commitment to the SDGs. The commitment on the part of the regions and member regions of ORU Fogar remains intact, if not even stronger than before.

If before the pandemic we pointed out that, beyond wars, social conflicts and the climate crisis, bad governance was a handicap for the achievement of the SDGs, now, we must ratify this conviction. In a world as complex as the one we are in, old-fashioned centralism is no longer operational. When all decision-making power is in the hands of a bureaucracy in the capital, nothing progresses, hindering progress in the fight against poverty, against hunger, against ignorance or against informal work.

I would like to end with an example that – I understand – is illustrative of this situation:

From the beginning, the World Health Organization told us that “washing your hands with soap was one of the keys to stopping the coronavirus.” However, it happens that 3 billion people do not have clean water in their homes to wash their hands with soap and water. It is about 40% of the world’s population. How did we achieve SDG 6, which deals with providing clean water and sanitation? How do we get people to have water to wash their hands?

A few months before the pandemic we were in Cajamarca, Peru, participating in the Second Summit on Decentralization with the Peruvian governors. On repeated occasions, Peruvian governors complained that every permit related to water management was managed in the capital, Lima. Between resignation and bitterness, they explained how they were processed forever in bureaucratic procedures that seemed incomprehensible to them. Today Peru is one of the Latin American countries that is experiencing the worst crisis, with a growing number of infected and dead. The severity of the situation, surely, must have multiple factors. In the XXI century, it is disheartening, however, to think that inefficient management of water policies can influence this, which, in the end, makes people unable to properly wash their hands.

The role of regions in Policy Food

What strategy should we use to close the gap between national and local food policy? Well, I’ll be very clear and direct. We don’t need to give it much turns: the gap will close with strong regional (subnational) governments, with competences, capacities and budgets. Simple. Easy…

Or not…

From the 14th to the 17th of October, I attended the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security. At the first session, the newly elected Director-General of the FAO, Mr. Qu Dongyu, presented the organization’s annual report. It notes that, over the past three years, there has been a retreat in the fight against hunger in the world, with 821 million people that are, now, suffering hunger. Armed conflicts, climate change, economic crises and trade battles were pointed out as the four reasons for the decline.

Since 2008, The United Regions Organisation, ORU Fogar, has had a Core Group of Food Safety. Since then, we have been working with FAO under an agreement. During this time, we have held three summits of regions on Food Security: one in Dakar, Senegal; a second in Medellin, Colombia; and a third last year in Cuenca, Ecuador. In all of these, we have always, always, said that the governance of many countries is inefficient in the fight against hunger. With centralized countries and slow capital bureaucracies, one cannot be efficient. We have always said it and we repeat it now, when the reports show some disturbing figures: we need to adapt our governance to the 21st century and this means accepting the principle of subsidiarity, and the overcome of centralism, a structure that cannot face contemporary complexity.

I will say loud and clear what wasn’t said in the Committee on World food Security: if the 2nd SDG – Zero Hunger is not making progress is because of the armed conflicts, climate change, economic crises trade battles and… a bad governance in many countries. Governance where local governments often have little power but, regional governments, have even less.

In front of this centralist inefficiency, we can bring multiple experiences of regional governments that, almost always with few means, are fighting on all fronts. We can share the experiences of regional governments in Ecuador who are supplying milk in schools across the territory, milk produced by local farmers. Prefectures that are giving support to agroecology. We can also share that, in Colombia, the regions are supporting food security projects in areas that have been recovered from conflict and war. We can explain that in many regions of Latin America, the regional governments are reforesting with the planting of thousands of native trees. Also, in Peru or Chile, the regional governments are “planting” water with projects to retain and exploit this resource. And, we can also talk about so many agricultural promotion projects in Africa that, sadly, have little financial support.

Regional governments are prepared to do this work. The gap between national and local governments can be fixed by empowered and capable regional governments.

In the Committee they said, however, some other things that we want to underline with a strong coloured, fluorescent and thick pencil. It was noted that the key to attaining the 2nd SDG – Zero Hunger does not pass through the food industry, neither the large food distribution sector. They pass by supporting small and family producers. It was revealed that women’s empowerment directly improves all food-related indices. I was also found that, along with the problems of hunger, the problem of obesity is already worrying.

From our point of view, of all that was said in the Committee on World Food Security, the most important thing was about the need to avoid rural exodus. As ORU Fogar, we value, we applaud and we support, to the best of our possibilities, the process that led us to the 2030 Agenda and the approval of the SDGs. The consultation process, at the same time territorial and thematic, carried out by the United Nations was admirable. Last times, however, we believe that we lost sensitiveness to the rural issues. The image that always accompanied the 2000 Millennium Development Goals was always rural. However, with the SDGs, the spotlight is almost always on the cities.

 

From time to time, in global debates, it has been seen that very high percentages of the population live in cities and, in 2050, those are going to be much higher. It is explained as an almost natural and, politically and socially, neutral process. But with an uncontrolled rural exodus, however, cities become unliveable places. When people come to these macro cities, you can no longer find the beacon of culture, the space where there is work and services, the place to realize their dreams and expectations. You can find a contaminated, collapsed, depersonalized and unsafe place.

Despite these obviosities, in international forums, we still speak with a mystique of big cities, which could be logical at the dawn of the industrial revolution but, today, it makes no sense. It is also spoken about sustainable cities when those, by definition, aren’t and cannot be, sustainable. A lot of people talk about all these things, they think about cities as an isolated entity and not as ecosystem in which cities and territories are related. And, like this, we continue contemplating impassively a rural exodus that impoverishes cities and ruins the home territories.

For ORU Fogar, with a very marked culture by the territory, attending this process has been in many ways desperate. The insensitivity with the rural exodus shown in many big events is hurtful for us. In Habitat III, in 2015 in Quito, we battled so the UN Habitat did not fall into this myopia. It was a though battle that we didn’t quite win in the field of debate, but that – above all – we still don’t win in real life. The rural field, the territory, continues to be depopulated, undeveloped, and poor countries. An extraordinary drama.

That is why we listened with satisfaction that the Committee on World Food Security talks about avoiding rural exodus, especially of young people, because – in the future – we will need to produce more food, and this cannot be produced in big cities. They must be produced in the countryside. Something obvious but, in these and difficult times, we will need to repeat obviousness.

Agreed that we need to support the rural world to produce more, healthier and nutritious food, we just need to decide how.

I think that regions have a very clear role in that sense. Regions, articulating the local world, can create infrastructures, provide services and stimulate employment that will hold the population in the territory.

Regions can also be the ones who train young people in agricultural vocational training plans. Regions can be the ones who dignify work in the countryside.

In short, regions can be key driving the local development and the attaining of the Zero Hunger Objective. It is only necessary that the respective central states give them the skills and space to carry out this work.

 

Regions are the key to Food Security.

What strategy should we use to close the breaches between national and local food policy? Well, I’ll be very straightforward. We don’t need to give it much turns: the gap will close with strong regional governments, with competences, capacities and budgets. Simple. Easy…

Or not…

From the 14th to the 17th of October, I attended the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security. At the first session, the newly elected Director-General of the FAO, Mr. Qu Dongyu, presented the organization’s 2019 report. It notes that, over the past three years, there has been a retreat in the fight against hunger in the world, with 821 million people that are now suffering from hunger. Armed conflicts, climate change, economic crises and trade battles were pointed out as reasons for the decline.

Since 2008, The United Regions Organisation, ORU Fogar, has had a Core Group dedicated to Food Safety. Since then, we have been working with FAO under an agreement. During this time, we have held three summits of regions on Food Security: one in Dakar, Senegal; a second in Medellin, Colombia; and a third in April 2018 in Cuenca, Ecuador. We have always, always, said that the governance of many countries is inefficient in the fight against hunger. With centralized countries and slow capital bureaucracies, one cannot be efficient. We have always said it and we repeat it now, when the reports show some disturbing figures: we need to adapt our governance to the 21st century and this happens with the principle of subsidiarity, and the overcoming of centralism, which cannot face contemporary complexity.

I will say loud and clear what wasn’t said in the Committee on World food Security: if the 2nd SDG – Zero Hunger is not making any progress is because of the armed conflicts, climate change, economic crises and trade battles and… and outdated governance in many countries. Governance where local governments often have little power but, regional governments, have even less.

In front of this centralist inefficiency we can bring multiple experiences of regional governments that, almost always with scarce means, are fighting on all fronts. We can share the experiences of regional governments in Ecuador who are supplying milk in schools across the territory, milk produced by local farmers. Prefectures that are giving support to agroecology. We can also share that, in Colombia, the regions are supporting food security projects in areas that been recovered from conflict and war. We can explain that in many regions of Latin America, its regional governments are reforesting with the planting of thousands of native trees. Also, in Peru or Chile, the regional governments are “planting” water with projects to retain and exploit this resource. And, we can also talk about so many agricultural promotion projects in Africa that, sadly, have little financial support.

Regional governments are prepared to do this work. The gap between national and local governments can be fixed by empowered and capable regional governments.

In the Committee they did say, however, some other things that we want to underline with a strong coloured, fluorescent and thick pencil. It was noted that the key to attaining the 2nd SDG – Zero Hunger does not happen because of the food industry, neither the large food distribution sector, but by supporting small and family producers. It was revealed that women’s empowerment directly improves all food-related indices. I was also found that, along with the problems of hunger, the problem of obesity is already worrying, too.

Of all that was said, from our point of view, the most important thing was about the need to avoid rural exodus. As ORU Fogar, we value, we applaud and we support, to the best of our possibilities, the process that led us to the 2030 Agenda and the approval of the Sustainable Development Goals. The consultation process, at the same time territorial and thematic, carried out by the United Nations was admirable. Along the way, however, we believe that we lost sensitiveness to poverty and rural issues. The image that always accompanied the 2000 Millennium Development Goals was always rural. However, with the SDGs, the spotlight is almost always on the cities.

 

From time to time, in global debates, it has been seen that very high percentages of the population live in cities and, in 2050, those are going to be much higher. It is explained as an almost natural and, politically and socially, neutral process. About the rural exodus, the fact that an important amount of the populations lives in the cities, makes of those, however, an uninhabitable and unliveable place. When people come to these macro cities, you can no longer find the beacon of culture, the space where there is work and services, the place to realize your dreams and expectations, but a contaminated, collapsed, depersonalized and unsafe place.

Despite these obviosities, in international forums, we still speak with a mystique of big cities, which could be logical at the dawn of the industrial revolution but, today, is meaningless. It is also spoken about sustainable cities when those, by definition, aren’t and cannot be, sustainable. We talk about all of these things, we think about cities as an isolated entity and not as ecosystem in which cities and territories are intertwined. And, like this, we continue contemplating impassively a rural exodus that impoverishes cities and ruins the home territories.

For ORU Fogar, with a very marked culture by the territory, attending this process has been in many ways desperate. The instability of the rural exodus shown in many big events, for us, is hurtful. In Habitat III, in 2015 in Quito, we battled so the UN Habitat did not fall into this myopia. It was a though battle that we didn’t quite win in the field of debate, but that – above all – we still don’t win in real life. In the rural field, the territory, continues to be depopulated in both developed and poor countries in an extraordinary drama.

That is why we listen very closely that the Committee on World Food Security is blunt about avoiding rural exodus, especially of young people, because – going forward – we need to produce more food and they cannot be produced in cities. They must be produced in the countryside. Again, a no-brainer, but in these and difficult times, we will need to repeat obviousness.

Agreed that we need to support the rural world to produce more, healthier and nutritious food, we just need to decide how.

I think that regions have a very clear role in that sense. Regions, articulating the local world, can create infrastructures, provide services and stimulate employment that will hold the population in the territory.

Regions can also be the ones who train young people in agricultural vocational training plans. Regions can be the ones who dignify work in the countryside.

In short, regions can be key driving the local development and the attaining of the Zero Hunger Objective. It is only necessary that the respective central states give them the skills and space to carry out this work.

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.

 

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President Juan Manuel Santos.

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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.

 

 

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

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

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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.