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AEBR Global Initiative: recent activities

2 December 2021

 

Various seminars took place in the last months to deepen relationships between cross-border cooperation makers in the European Union and other regions of the world. Among the latest appointments there is an event organised in the context of EUROsociaL about the Titicaca region, an exchange on lessons learned drawn from Covid 19 and future vision in the European and the south American contexts and the Cities and Regions for International Partnership Forum.

 

European-Latin American meeting on a strategy in the Titicaca region

The Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) alongside the Titicaca Lake Binational Authority (Peru-Bolivia) ALT – Autoridad Binacional del Lago Titicaca (alt-perubolivia.org) and the European programmes EUROsociAL Home – Eurosocial and EUROfront EUROFRONT (fiiapp.org) organised on the 25th of November a European-Latin American meeting on “Setting a cross-border strategy for security, governance and development in the Titicaca region”.

This meeting entails an integrated action by two EU cooperation programmes which, through complementary focuses, seek to contribute to the institutional and cross-border-oriented strengthening of Bolivia and Peru. It focused on matters related to the improvement of social cohesion, the promotion of security and the protection of human rights, thus having an impact on the economic and social development of the region.

The Binational Authority (ALT), with support from AEBR, facilitates the implementation of the “Binational Global Master Plan”, whose goal is to articulate, through a cross-border perspective, the decisions of both governments insofar as common legal, institutional and governance issues in the Titicaca Lake basin are concerned.

 

Uruguay River Basin’ Forium on Covid 19 – Lessons learned and future vision

The virtual Forum on “Covid 19- Lessons learned and future vision”, which took place on the 23rd of November 2021, was attended by representatives of the Committee for the Development of the Uruguay River Basin, as well as the active participation of European experts from the Association of European Border Regions, EuroDistrict PAMINA and other border areas.

In this forum many perspectives have been discussed and debated in relation to the pandemic: how it has affected our lives, what vision we have of COVID19: socially, economically, and politically speaking,  good practices implemented, and what the pandemic has taught us and thus, what we can do better for the future.

The seminar was divided into two blocks, the first one  “experiences in dealing with the pandemic” where the exchange of best practices among the speakers was crucial, e.g. coordinated vaccination initiatives in cross-border areas.

The second block “the pandemic in the Uruguay River Basin” talked specifically about the practices and experiences that were made in this area.

 

The Forum Cities and Regions Partnerships

Between the 29th and the 30th of November, the Cities and Regions for International Partnership Forum, jointly organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships and the European Committee of the Regions, was held on a virtual basis. The forum gathered experts, politicians and civil society leaders from EU and non-EU countries in order to discuss and share experiences on locally-led international partnerships and cooperation initiatives. The Forum’s opening speeches were delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and Committee of the Regions President Apostolos Tzitzikostas. Commissioner Urpilainen, drawing on her own previous experience as a local politician, emphasized that “change begins locally”, and, thus, actions at local and regional levels are fundamental for the post-COVID recovery and green transition processes. As such, the EU should increase its incentives in locally-oriented actions.

The second part of the Forum was held in small, theme-specific discussion groups in what was referred to as “Breakout Sessions”. AEBR, took part in Breakout Session 22, on “Restoration of Paradiplomacy and Cross-Border Governance in the aftermath of COVID-19”, in which the experience of the Tulcán-Ipiales Mancomunidad, a cross-border cooperation project in the Ecuador-Colombia border was presented by Jose Cruz as AEBR expert and Rosmery Pillajo, head for International Cooperation of the City Council of Tulcán.

The challenges faced by border cities and regions due to pandemic-related border closures were one of the central points of the presentation. The importance of paradiplomacy, defined as the participation of regional governments in international relations, in the Tulcán-Ipiales case was analysed. Cross-border cooperation initiatives are vital in this region, in virtue of the historical proximity of the two cities in the cultural, social, economic, and even familial spheres. The interruption of such a proximity and mobility during the pandemic led to severe consequences to the local economy and aggravated other existing social problems related to illegal activities and migratory pressure. Moreover, due to the presence of a dry port in the Tulcán-Ipiales border, any disruptions there lead to impacts in supply chains across the wider region. Ultimately, the case exemplifies the dilemma between a total closure of the borders, pursued by national governments, or the choice for cross-border cooperation which allows for necessary controls while avoiding major disruptions in the functioning of border communities.

On the second day of the event, after a presentation on the functioning of the upcoming Team Europe Partnership Portal experience-sharing platform, a wrap-up session of the debates held in the previous day’s Breakout sessions took place. The summary of the previous session was made by Jose Cruz, who emphasized matters related to paradiplomacy and presented a summary of the Tulcán-Ipiales experience to a wider audience

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