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Spain shares its commitment to disability-inclusive development at GLAD meeting 2021

Natalia Guala speaking at the Spanish cooperation session held in the framework of GLAD meeting 2021

On the occasion of the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Annual General Meeting 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Public Administration and Policy (FIIAPP) and the ONCE Social Group (ONCE) held a pre-meeting session on 26 February to briefly review their contribution to inclusive development so far, as well as to outline coordinated plans and strategies for the future.

The event was promoted by Bridging the Gap, a European development project led by FIIAPP and involving AECID as a consortium partner and ONCE as a member of the European Disability Forum. It was moderated by Natalia Guala Beathyate, Programme Manager at Grupo Social ONCE, and included interventions by Fernando Jiménez Ontiveros, Director of Horizontal, Multilateral and Financial Cooperation of AECID, Inmaculada Zamora Martínez, Secretary General of FIIAPP and Javier Güemes Pedraza, International Director of Grupo Social ONCE.

During her intervention, Inmaculada Zamora introduced the specific approach of FIIAPP, “based on peer-to-peer learning, exchanges of experiences and knowledge between public experts in different countries aimed at supporting improvements and reforms of institutions” and “deeply rooted in the principles of European and Spanish co-operation”.

She also stressed that FIIAPP’s action “is deeply anchored in the principles of sustainable and inclusive development”. Over the last few years, “FIIAPP has progressively increased the promotion of the rights and socio-economic inclusion of persons with disabilities“, mainly through the Bridging the Gap project, whose experience can serve as a springboard for future dedicated initiatives in cooperation under the umbrella of Europe, but also through programmes such as EUROsociAL+ and SOCIEUX+, she recalled.

From his side, Fernando Jiménez explained AECID’s strategy to base its action on public-private partnerships for development, following SDG17, which, he said, “is a wake-up call to remind us that development is a multistakeholder endeavour”. In this regard, he highlighted as a good practice an alliance between AECID and ONCE Social Group that aims to improve the capacities and employability of persons with disabilities, particularly women and young people, through communication technologies in the tourism sector.

He also highlighted the importance that AECID is giving to promote a more proactive engagement of countries with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Disability Marker to contribute to mainstreaming disability issues into development cooperation activities.

In relation to partnerships, Javier Güemes from ONCE Social Group mentioned as an interesting example the Ibero-American programme for persons with disabilities created by the Ibero-American General Secretariat. “I think this programme is really a step forward for civil society in Spain, because we are not only reaching out to other OPDs in the region, but we are also working with public authorities so that we make sure that they also understand and cooperate better on disability issues, because disability is also an issue to create cooperation between those countries”, he remarked.

Furthermore, he stressed the need to not forget middle-income countries such as the Latin American countries and the European regions of the Mediterranean in disability-related projects”, and highlighted as examples of the ONCE Social Group the work of the ONCE Foundation for Latin America with blind persons and the cooperation in the refugee camps to support blind students’ access to mainstream education.

Spain’s contribution to the GLAD network

FIIAPP, AECID and ONCE joined the GLAD Network as full members in the second half of 2019, thus reinforcing their commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development cooperation. In line with the objectives of the Annual General Meeting and the Draft Strategic Plan 2021-2023, they have agreed on the importance of strengthening their contribution to the GLAD Network.

Strengthened collaboration between Spanish Cooperation actors and with the rest of the network’s members is a pre-condition for assuring coordination and knowledge sharing, two core functions of GLAD, in response to the current and upcoming challenges of global development, with less than a decade to go to completion of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and amidst a global pandemic.

Spain champions SDGs implementation nationally and worldwide, as both global common language for inclusive development and crosscutting factor for policy development. Likewise, in July 2020, Spain presented its joint response to the COVID-19 pandemic embedding the “build back better” principles.