Much was discussed and voted on November 24 in Congress; from the first light of the day to midnight, we were witnesses. There was everything in abundance, even waste of insults in many phases. Important issues in the order of sessions: the general state budget, taxes on energy companies, banks and large fortunes, modifications in the crimes of sedition and… what most of the media mysteriously forgot: the new Law on Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Global Solidarity.
Perhaps it was not news because the opposition was not going to vote against en bloc. Perhaps because apparently it does not interest, despite the fact that more than 85% of the citizens support it. Is it because good news is not news or because we have not been able to explain its relevance?
To measure its real relevance, we must place ourselves in the place where we live: planet Earth, the one in which 8,000 million people are forced to live in a global furnace whose temperatures increase due to the effort to use fossil fuels on a massive scale. A place where hunger, inequality and misery increase. In which fires and conflicts break out everywhere, the result of a lack of political will to stop them or virtuosity to postpone their solution indefinitely. What does the Earth tell us if we listen to it? Cooperate, hell, respect, care, solve common problems, make this world a place worth living in.
Cooperate, the Earth is right, that is the key. Two years ago, the Development NGOs prepared a collective proposal with the intention of contributing to the construction of a new cooperation system to transform the world. Today we look back and we feel proud because many of our proposals have been included in the current law. Thanks to those who have contributed to this collective work through dialogue and responsibility.
But, was a new cooperation law really needed?
This is the first renovation in 20 years. If we take into account the enormous changes that the world has undergone in these two decades, we can conclude that it was about time. And it was not only because of the international commitments assumed, such as the 2030 Agenda, the Paris agreements or the Financing for Development Agenda; but also because, after the lost decade of cooperation (from 2010 to 2020), the institutional mechanisms were very fragile, with cracks and chips; a cut of more than 80% of Official Development Assistance had left this public policy on the brink of disappearance.
From 2010 to 2020, a cut of more than 80% of Official Development Assistance had left this public policy on the brink of disappearance
What advances this Law? We made progress in budgetary commitment, in a shared political vision, in fixing those cracks that were weakening the system. Now, it’s just the first step on a long road. A law is of little use if it is not accompanied by regulations that guarantee that it goes from words to deeds. If we really want to walk that path, 2023 is coming hot; a year in which nothing more and nothing less than seven decrees and statutes that the Law announces must be developed: the reform of the AECID, the statute of cooperating persons, the statute of the Spanish Fund for Sustainable Development (FEDES), the real decree of subsidies, the regulation of the Superior Council of Cooperation for Development, the Interministerial Commission and the Interterritorial Commission for sustainable development and global solidarity. And, furthermore, it is time to draw up the VI Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation with the greatest possible ambition and consensus. Almost nothing.
With this panorama, it is easy to conclude that there are certain ingredients that cannot be missing from the plate. Guaranteeing that all our policies contribute to development is the first of them: we cannot allow trade, immigration, fiscal, military policies… to violate human rights or mistreat the planet; That cooperation rows in one direction without the others accompanying it is nothing more than a drop in an immense ocean. The second essential is a budget that is up to the enormous challenges we face: we are still very far from 0.7% and progress is still lukewarm; Without sufficient funds, we are going badly. And permeating the entire process, one last ingredient: an ambitious political direction in permanent dialogue with society. From there, the dish can be made richer and richer.
An important step, but only a first step
It is, therefore, the first piece of a huge puzzle. We are not naive, the most difficult is yet to come, but we also recognize the important progress made in the last two years and we congratulate ourselves on it. In a context as strident as the current one, guaranteeing dialogue and political agreement is an enormous achievement.
Cooperating is crucial because it avoids conflicts, solves global problems, generates prosperity, guarantees human rights and justice for all the people who inhabit this world.
Complex times are coming. Development NGOs will continue to bet on models in which peace prevails in the face of conflict, dialogue in the face of hate, care in the face of mistreatment, equity between women and men, between diverse people, in the face of inequality, the protection of planet facing its plunder. We are stubborn, we will continue to remember (and demonstrate) that other worlds are possible, that working for justice, human dignity and equal opportunities is not naive but realistic. We will continue hand in hand with international networks, with organizations from our neighborhoods, with NGOs from all over the world that rise up daily and bet on life, on that dignified life that deserves to be lived. We are stubborn and we will continue to remember that there are unavoidable political responsibilities that must be assumed with rigor and responsibility.
Cooperation may not occupy the big headlines in the media, but it is decisive at a time like the one we are living in. Cooperating is crucial because it avoids conflicts, solves global problems, generates prosperity, guarantees human rights and justice for all the people who inhabit this world. Cooperating makes our human capacities go far beyond ourselves to weave together with others. The year that is just around the corner will be a good opportunity to show if the political will is up to the task. For our part, we will continue betting on life hand in hand with those who are protagonists of this public policy, sometimes invisible and always essential.
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