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Governo Italiano

Del Re: “Coronavirus, the international cooperation will save us" (Agenzia Dire)

Date:

04/20/2020


Del Re: “Coronavirus, the international cooperation will save us

To guarantee the continuity of as many projects as possible, but also greater flexibility, we are focusing particularly on the health sector and 'wash' and avoiding 'return contagion'. The commitment of the Vice Minister, Emanuela Del Re, is to strengthen the Italian Cooperation intervention globally at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the Dire agency, she highlighted the necessity of multilateralism and a 'global approach', but also the prospect of 'complicated months' ahead. Del Re, a researcher and sociologist, an expert in the Middle East and Africa, coordinates an operative table together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Aics), the civil society organizations (osc) and the private sector.

It is an opportunity, explains the Vice Minister, to listen and focus on 'needs, needs proposals'. We are determined to look beyond the Covid-19, perhaps even with a growth in Italy's investment in cooperation, making up for the delay with the major European countries.

Vice Minister, does the struggle to contain Covid-19 relaunch the need for shared development and cooperation that goes beyond national barriers and borders? What initiatives should we focus on now, from a multilateral point of view?

‘There is no doubt that what we are experiencing is an exceptional historical moment, unique in contemporary times. We are facing the most severe health emergency since the post-war period to date. And there is no doubt that it is a genuinely global phenomenon because it involves everyone, at every latitude. Adopting a prismatic vision is key to be able to identify appropriate responses to global challenges. Such challenges are affecting all sectors: from health to economic, social, and even value-based ones. Our effort must be characterised by a combined action in order to find effective strategies. Italy is fully aware that we need to act synergistically and, together with its partners and all the United Nations agencies, adopted a multilateral perspective. The multilateral view is fundamental because it allows us to participate in all decision-making processes, and to put our considerable experience in the health field all over the world. It is a world that is now moving to connect. The dialogue is incredibly open.

For example, I participated together with the main donors from UN agencies in the video conferences chaired by Mark Lowcock, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) and with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 26 March and 15 April. The new Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (Ghrp), the global humanitarian response plan that should aggregate the response plans of individual UN agencies (WHO, Unhcr, Oim, Unicef, Undp, Fao, Wfp, Unfpa, Un-Habitat) worth $2 billion, was presented in detail. The Ghrp is an instrument in addition to the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan launched by WHO on February 3; it worth is 675 million for the February-April 2020 quarter. The plan is structured in activities of assistance to administrations, definition and implementation of therapeutic plans, testing and promotion of awareness campaigns, mapping and monitoring of contagions and provision of medical and health care material for personal protection. It considers the difficulties related to the scarcity of the global market. To date, in response to the Covid-19 emergency, Italy has already undertaken several initiatives, both multilaterally and bilaterally, with contributions to the WHO in the framework of the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and to the International Federation of the Red Cross within the framework of the Covid-19 Global Appeal to provide medical and health care materials to our 'fragile' partners. Thanks to the experience gained in the fight against Ebola and other epidemics, we know that decisive actions must be taken to prevent contagion. It is crucial to understand that we must act from a shared point of view. Indeed, from the very first days of the epidemic, Italian actions have been focused on the activation of a rapid, synergistic, coordinated, and effective response. A shared response, precisely'.

Will Italy be able to invest in this more than it has done so far (perhaps in a world where the 17 targets of the Sustainable Development Agenda are further away)?

The emergency we are experiencing, despite its dramatic nature and the tragic death toll, calls for a resolute approach to achieve Agenda 2030 gaols. I strongly believe in the fundamental synthesis of the holistic approach, in the inextricable link among public health, well-being, climate, energy and sustainable development. Only in this way the cause-effect mechanism between these sectors may emerge. Italy significantly invests in this effort. We are among the main donor countries of the United Nations. We are 'champions' in this field, as I like to repeat. We are one of the most cooperative countries in Africa, one of the major contributors to global health initiatives, such as the essential funds to eradicate preventable diseases, childhood diseases and hunger. These investments have a significant return for our country because as the Covid-19 pandemic shows, investing in health at a global level means investing in our health, in our future. Italy will play its part in this challenge, as I said to Ocha and WHO. In this sense, it is vital to be clear about the Government's objective to continue the path of strengthening Italian Cooperation and its realignment to international standards. The main European countries invest much more than us in cooperation.

Although in the last two years we have seen a decrease in the percentage of Official Development Assistance concerning Gross National Income, our objective remains the achievement of 0.7% by 2030, as set out in the Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am also convinced that we will need to ensure a gradual and steady growth in development cooperation allocations because in this emergency it is crucial for the health sector and Wash in countries with fragile health systems to prevent a dangerous contagion of return. For this reason, it would be wise to increase the financial resources allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for cooperation interventions, considering the qualified role that the Department, through Aics, plays at international level in the development sector, in particular in health projects. It is true that we are one of the countries most affected by the Covid-19 emergency. Still, precisely, for this reason, we are not backing out and continue to be at the forefront to defeat this terrible virus on a global level and to ensure a pandemic-free future.

Regarding the coronavirus emergency, you have highlighted the need to ' redefine initiatives and of the whole programming of the activity of Development Cooperation', talking about 'new priorities'. What could be the principal directions of this intervention?

My work at the Ministry continues unceasingly. In the last few days, I have held a series of videoconferences with the main components of the Italian system of international cooperation. We have discussed the main problems that cooperation activities are facing because of the pandemic emergency. Complicated months await us this will probably involve a redefinition of the initiatives and the whole programming of the development cooperation activities, considering the current crisis. Everything will be adapted in the light of changing circumstances. We are questioning the future together with the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aics and all the actors of the cooperation system, collecting needs, and proposals. There are new priorities dictated by the fight against Covid-19, and we are defining ad hoc guidelines providing targeted programmes in the health and prevention; specific initiatives to raise awareness especially for the most vulnerable, therefore more exposed to contagion; greater support to local communities to strengthen their resilience and their ability to prevent and react to the pandemic. We have already been successfully engaged in these areas of intervention. Still, we need to rethink this emergency to maximize resources, efforts and needs, always listening to the experts in the field and in cooperation and partnership with local communities. We will keep on enhancing the crucial ‘Italian' values that inspiring and guiding our actions. We need a multi-stakeholder approach, and the private sector is also called upon to participate in a new and more incisive way in the pandemic response strategy within the general framework of development cooperation. This is why we have set up an Operational Table on prevention and the Italian contribution to the global response to the pandemic, that I personally coordinate, and where all the players will participate in addition to Dgcs and Aics, civil society organizations, the private sector, international organizations and others'.

In times of coronavirus, you have described as laudable the commitment of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation to continue to project and implement Italy's commitment to supporting equitable and sustainable development around the world. At this stage, will there be specific support measures or policy guidelines for Aics, perhaps on the type of priority projects?

I think it is laudable that the offices of the Agency both in Rome and abroad continue, as far as possible, their valuable activities despite the apprehension for the conditions of their relatives and friends in Italy. It is a great and generous choice on the part of those who work away from home in often difficult contexts, at a time when the emergency is hitting our country hard. It contributes to bear witness to Italy's empathy with the world. We are fully aware that this terrible war against the virus must be tackled with a global approach, in different places, on various fronts but with the same effectiveness. We are in constant contact with the Director-General of Dgcs and the Director of Aics, with all the experts, officials, diplomats, in Rome and abroad, and representatives of civil society organizations. We are working first and foremost to deal with the emergency and ensure that the 'machine' of cooperation continues to run at full capacity. We have already averted this danger through the tireless work of all of us. Our main objective is ensuring the continuation of a vast number of activities and projects, in compliance with all precautionary measures, ensuring the achievement of the objectives and, at the same time, safeguarding the health of all those involved. We are listening to the needs of civil society organisations and both Aics and Dgcs. Thanks to the coordination with me and my secretariat, will try to meet their needs and requests on a bureaucratic-administrative level. We are working, for example, on reorienting programmes, on extending existing projects, on redefining variants and reporting, all actions that in short to medium term will provide the dark with greater flexibility and broader margins of the movement. All this within the framework of the current Covid-19 emergency. I will repeat tirelessly that the cooperation system is an extraordinary operational arm of Italian foreign policy. It allows us to have direct, frank, and lasting relations with many countries and their companies. We can thus open the doors to economic cooperation activities, to the benefit, for example, for our companies'. ‘

In an interview with the agency Dire, the spokeswoman of the Association of Italian NGOs, Silvia Stilli, talked about 'project suffering' and 'unforeseen costs' for NGOs. The Third sector is worth thousands of jobs. Will there be initiatives of support by the government?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a Covid-19 Technical Emergency Table has been active with civil society organisations. The aim is guaranteeing all the necessary support and 'write' together with all the actors of the Italian cooperation system, adopting the required rules to face the emergency better. Many activities will be suspended for several months, and the Osc will also have to face other fixed costs, not foreseen for an unspecified duration. We have guaranteed maximum cooperation and flexibility to deal with the emergency. We are working on procedural solutions: what we are experiencing is an unprecedented situation, and therefore we need to find new mechanisms to deal with it. We are working, for example, on the extension of non-contractual extensions and the exceptional management of initiatives financed/co-financed by Italian cooperation. Civil society organizations have asked for additional funds to support the projects. A deep and precise reflection is underway, in agreement with the other ministries, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies first. Actions for the Third Sector have already been included in the Cura Italia decree. It is a time of great crisis but also of great transformation, which I am sure will lead to great opportunities for renewal. Together with all the cooperation actors, we will try to prepare the ground for an even more effective and incisive future, for the benefit of Italians and the entire world'. To guarantee the continuity of as many projects as possible, but also a greater flexibility, focusing in particular on the health sector and 'wash' and avoiding 'return contagion': this is the commitment of the Vice Minister, Emanuela Del Re, to strengthen, at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the interventions of the Italian Cooperation in the world.

In an interview with the Dire agency, the necessity of multilateralism and of a 'global approach' are highlighted, but also the prospect of 'complicated months' ahead. Del Re, a researcher and sociologist, expert in the Middle East and Africa, coordinates an operative table together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (Aics), the civil society organizations (osc) and the private sector.

It is an opportunity, explains the Vice Minister, to listen and focus on 'needs, needs proposals'. We are determined to look beyond the Covid-19, perhaps even with a growth in Italy's investment in cooperation, making up for the delay with the main European countries.

 

Vice Minister, does the struggle to contain Covid-19 relaunch the need for shared development and cooperation that goes beyond national barriers and borders? What initiatives should we focus on now, from a multilateral point of view?

‘There is no doubt that what we are experiencing is an exceptional historical moment, unique in contemporary times. We are facing the most serious health emergency since the post-war period to date. And there is no doubt that it is a truly global phenomenon because it involves everyone, at every latitude. It is essential to adopt a prismatic vision, which allows us to identify appropriate responses to global challenges that affect all sectors, from health to economic, social, and even value-based ones. The approach that must characterise our effort must be based on combined action if we really want to find effective strategies. Italy is fully aware of the need to act synergistically, and in fact it moves on a multilateral level together with its partners and all the United Nations agencies. The multilateral perspective is fundamental in this moment because it allows us to participate in all decision-making processes, and it allows us to put our great experience in the health field all over the world. It is a world that is now moving to connect. The dialogue is incredibly open. For example, I participated together with the main donors from UN agencies in the video conferences chaired by Mark Lowcock, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) and with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 26 March and 15 April. The new Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (Ghrp), the global humanitarian response plan that should aggregate the response plans of individual UN agencies (WHO, Unhcr, Oim, Unicef, Undp, Fao, Wfp, Unfpa, Un-Habitat) worth $2 billion, was presented in detail. The Ghrp is an instrument in addition to the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan launched by WHO on February 3; it means 675 million for the February-April 2020 quarter. It is a plan structured in activities of assistance to administrations, definition and implementation of therapeutic plans, testing and promotion of awareness campaigns, mapping and monitoring of contagions and provision of medical and health care material for personal protection, taking into account the difficulties related to the scarcity of the global market. To date, in response to the Covid-19 emergency, our country has already undertaken several initiatives both multilaterally and bilaterally, with contributions to the WHO in the framework of the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and to the International Federation of the Red Cross in the framework of the Covid-19 Global Appeal and the supply of medical and health care materials to our so-called 'fragile' partners. The experience gained in the fight against Ebola and other epidemics, for example, teaches us that decisive action must be taken to prevent contagion. It is necessary to understand that never have we had to act from a shared point of view. Indeed, from the very first days of the epidemic, Italian actions have been focused on the activation of a rapid, synergistic, coordinated and as effective response as possible. A shared response, precisely'.

Will Italy be able to invest in this more than it has done so far (perhaps in a world where the 17 targets of the Sustainable Development Agenda are further away)?

The emergency we are experiencing, despite its dramatic nature and the very painful death toll, calls for an aggressive push in our efforts to achieve Agenda 2030, because it is the synthesis of the holistic approach that I believe to be absolutely fundamental, in which the inextricable link between public health, well-being, climate, energy and sustainable development and above all the cause-effect mechanism between these sectors emerges. Italy invests in this and invests a lot. We are among the main donor countries of the United Nations. We are 'champions' in this field, as I like to repeat. We are one of the most cooperative countries in Africa, one of the major contributors to global health initiatives, such as the most important funds to eradicate preventable diseases, childhood diseases and hunger. These investments have an important return for our country, because as the Covid-19 pandemic shows, investing in health globally means investing in our health, in our future. Italy will play its part in this challenge, as I said to Ocha and WHO. In this sense, it is important to be clear about the Government's objective to continue the path of strengthening Italian Cooperation and its realignment to international standards - the main European countries invest much more than us in cooperation.

Although in the last two years we have seen a decrease in the percentage of Official Development Assistance in relation to Gross National Income, our objective remains the achievement of 0.7% by 2030, as set out in the Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am also convinced that we will need to ensure a gradual and steady growth in development cooperation allocations, because in this emergency it is crucial for the health sector and Wash in countries with fragile health systems to prevent a dangerous contagion of return. For this reason it would be wise to increase the financial resources allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for cooperation interventions, considering the qualified role that the Department, through Aics, plays at international level in the development sector, in particular in health projects. It is true that we are one of the countries most affected by the Covid-19 emergency, but precisely for this reason we are not backing out and continue to be at the forefront to defeat this terrible virus on a global level and to ensure a pandemic-free future.

Regarding the coronavirus emergency, you highlighted the need for 'a redefinition of initiatives and of the whole programming of the activity of Development Cooperation', talking about 'new priorities'. What could be the key directions of this intervention?

My work at the ministry continues unceasingly. In the last few days, I have held a series of videoconferences with the main components of the Italian system of international cooperation, and we have discussed the main problems that cooperation activities are facing because of the pandemic emergency. Complicated months await us this will probably involve a redefinition of the initiatives and of the whole programming of the development cooperation activities, considering the current emergency. Everything will be modulated in the light of changing circumstances. We are questioning the future together with the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aics and all the actors of the cooperation system, collecting needs, and proposals. Among the new priorities dictated by fight against Covid-19 we are defining ad hoc guidelines: even more targeted programmes in the health and prevention sector; specific 'awareness' initiatives especially for the most vulnerable groups, therefore more exposed to contagion; greater support to local communities to strengthen their resilience and their ability to prevent and react to the pandemic. These are areas of intervention in which we have already been successfully engaged for some time, but which need to be rethought in this emergency, in order to maximize resources, efforts and needs, always listening to what comes to us 'from the field', in collaboration and partnership with local communities and always with the same great 'Italian' values that inspire us and guide our action. More than ever we need a multi-stakeholder approach, so also the private sector is also called upon to participate in a new and more incisive way in the pandemic response strategy within the more general framework of development cooperation. This is why we have set up an Operational Table on prevention and the Italian contribution to the global response to the pandemic, that I personally coordinate, and where all the players will participate in addition to Dgcs and Aics, civil society organizations, the private sector, international organizations and others'.

In times of coronavirus, you have described as laudable the commitment of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation to continue to project and implement Italy's commitment to support fair and sustainable development around the world. At this stage, will there be specific support measures or policy guidelines for Aics, perhaps on the type of priority projects?

I think it is laudable that the offices of the Agency both in Rome and abroad continue, as far as possible, their valuable activities despite the apprehension for the conditions of their relatives and friends in Italy. It is a noble and generous choice on the part of those who work away from home in often difficult contexts, at a time when the emergency is hitting our country hard. This contributes once again to bear witness to Italy's empathy with the world, with the full awareness that this terrible war against the virus must be tackled with a global approach, in different places, on different fronts but with the same effectiveness. We are in constant contact with the Director General of Dgcs and the Director of Aics, with all the experts, officials, diplomats, in Rome and abroad, and representatives of civil society organizations. We are working first and foremost to deal with the emergency and ensure that the 'machine' of cooperation continues to run at full capacity. We have already averted this danger through the tireless work of all of us. Our main objective is to ensure the continuation of as many activities and projects as possible, in compliance with all precautionary measures, ensuring the achievement of the objectives and, at the same time, safeguarding the health of all those involved. We are listening to the needs of civil society organisations and both Aics and Dgcs. Thanks to the coordination with me and my secretariat, will try to meet their needs and requests on a bureaucratic-administrative level. We are working, for example, on reorienting programmes, on extending existing projects, on redefining variants and reporting, all actions that in the short to medium term will provide the dark with greater flexibility and wider margins of movement. All within the framework of the current Covid-19 emergency. I will never tire of repeating that the cooperation system is an extraordinary operational arm of Italian foreign policy, which allows us to have direct, frank and lasting relations with many countries and their companies, thus opening the doors also to economic cooperation activities, to the benefit, for example, of our companies'. ‘

In an interview with the agency Dire, the spokeswoman of the Association of Italian NGOs, Silvia Stilli, talked about 'project suffering' and 'unforeseen costs' for NGOs. The Third sector is worth thousands of jobs. Will there be initiatives of support by the government?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a Covid-19 Technical Emergency Table has been active with civil society organisations with the aim of guaranteeing all the necessary support and to 'write' together with all the actors of the Italian cooperation system some rules necessary to better face the emergency. We are aware that many activities will be suspended for several months, and that the Osc will also have to face other fixed costs not foreseen for an unspecified duration. We have guaranteed maximum cooperation and flexibility to deal with the emergency. We are working on procedural solutions: what we are experiencing is an unprecedented situation and therefore we need to find new mechanisms to deal with it. We are working, for example, on the extension of non-contractual extensions and the exceptional management of initiatives financed/co-financed by Italian cooperation. Civil society organizations have asked for additional funds to support the projects: a deep and precise reflection is underway, in agreement with the other ministries, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies first. Actions for the Third Sector are already foreseen in the “Cura Italia” decree. It is a time of great crisis but also of great transformation, which I am sure will lead to great opportunities for renewal. We will try, together with all the actors of cooperation, to prepare the ground for an even more effective and incisive future, for the benefit of Italians and the world'.


Location:

Roma

Periodical:

Agenzia Dire

Author:

Giardina Vincenzo

39116
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