The spread of COVID-19 is making us face an enormous crisis that will have social, economic and political repercussions around the world. But its consequences will be especially serious for the most vulnerable people. The UN estimates that if we do nothing, the number of hungry people in the world could double, making it more difficult to achieve SDG 2 of end hunger in the world ensuring food security and improved nutrition.
And in this context, development cooperation is an essential tool to support countries with fewer resources and options. As the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been warning “Without the support of the international community, we run the risk of a massive setback in the achievements made in development in recent decades in terms of both lives and basic rights, opportunities and dignity.”
The Madrid NGDOs ask for a firm commitment and solidarity from our regional and local governments with the public policy of international cooperation to exercise empathy, responsibility and solidarity towards the impoverished countries that will fight the pandemic from a position of great weakness. In short, the NGDOs ask the same thing that our governments asked the rest of the European Union: a global solution, high-mindedness and not leaving anyone behind. But the commitment to international cooperation is not only a commitment to solidarity and social justice, but also to collective intelligence. In a tremendously interconnected world, we cannot build isolated bubbles of well-being: this is a global crisis that we can only face with a global vision and articulation.
And we want to highlight the importance of decentralized cooperation, one that is channeled through autonomous and local governments. According to OECD data from 2015, one out of every three euros of Spanish bilateral aid originated in regional and municipal budgets, which makes our country the largest donor of decentralized aid in relative terms. A cooperation that has been managed fundamentally in collaboration and through NGDOs.
On the other hand, the 2030 Agenda provides the necessary universal reference framework that will be necessary to seek global solutions for this global crisis. And to achieve its fulfillment, the role of local administrations will be essential: in each of its 17 SDGs, the 2030 Agenda introduces issues such as water management, public transport, citizen participation or the integration of immigrants and also international cooperation. for development, which are the responsibility of local and regional governments.
For this reason, and when recently five years have passed since its approval by the United Nations, the Madrid NGDOs demand that our administrations implement the following measures so that we face this crisis within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, guaranteeing full exercise of universal human rights, taking into account environmental sustainability and leaving no one behind:
1. Support civil society organizations that since the beginning of the health crisis have rapidly created support networks for the most vulnerable population. It is necessary to continue supporting neighborhood associations, sports, cultural and other civil society organizations that, due to their knowledge and proximity to the population they serve, are an indispensable complement to the work of the administrations.
2. Strengthen public services that guarantee for the whole society the full exercise of rights as fundamental as education and health. The pandemic is showing that only a public, free and universal service will allow us to achieve SDG 3 of ensure a healthy life and promote well-being for all people. On the other hand, the health crisis has widened the educational gap and it is necessary to meet the new educational needs so that all boys and girls have access to quality education in all circumstances.
3. Promote international cooperation for development within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, increasing the items with additional funds to respond to the emergency situation that COVID-19 may cause in the countries in which we work, especially in the area of health, and to support the development of Strategic Plans that highlight the commitment of administrations to international cooperation for development.
4. Help and protect the elderly and dependents it is what makes us more human. It is necessary to create and adequately protect safe spaces where the elderly and dependents can be cared for with all the guarantees for their health and where they can feel accompanied by their family members. A public network of residences for the elderly and dependents will guarantee this right.
5. Migrants and refugees must also count on our support and help. No human being is illegal and all people have the right to move from our places of origin either to find a better place for our personal development or pushed by contexts of unsustainability for life. And in reception places the right to refuge and asylum must be guaranteed and the most appropriate conditions for integration must be provided.
6. As in all the economic, social and political crises that humanity has gone through, serious problems such as inequality are now worsening, not only between countries but within each country, creating pockets of poverty. Wealth redistribution efforts should be strengthened so that those who have the most contribute to sustaining a welfare state that provides cohesion to our societies. We request to reduce indirect taxes such as VAT because they are the least redistributive and, on the other hand, to increase direct taxes for large fortunes, support taxes on financial transactions and redouble the fight against fraud and tax evasion.
7. In promoting economic reconstruction It is necessary to take into account the entire business fabric, large, medium and small companies and also the social and solidarity company and the cooperative sector, that they are one of the sectors that creates the most and highest quality jobs and that contributes values of solidarity and social responsibility. For this reason, we ask that the incorporation of these companies in public procurement be promoted and their collaboration be prioritized in those of public project subsidies.
8. And we must not forget that according to many scientific reports, this pandemic is largely due to the destruction of natural spaces around the world. It is time to bet on a green and sustainable economy with great potential in creating jobs such as sustainable energy, less crowded tourism, and seasonal and local consumption.
And finally, in an increasingly urbanized world, we are calling for greener and more sustainable cities that give prominence to people and promote less polluting mobility systems.