Archive for SSP in Action

Indigenous population in Latin America: opportunities and challenges

UNDP Peru Indigenous

In a recent publication of the Global American Journal, the inclusion of indigenous population in Latin American countries was highlighted as a major challenge in terms of political representation, economic prosperity, development, healthcare or access to justice.

More than 40 percent of the indigenous population in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru live in poverty, as stated in the Global American Report. The cases of Guatemala and Mexico were highlighted as examples that show on the one hand best practices and areas of opportunity for inclusion of indigenous communities but on the other hand failure to act on those opportunities.

Mexico has the largest absolute indigenous population in the region with 17 million people compared to over 45 million people in the whole region. This high proportion of indigenous people is raised as a challenge on how they are represented at the federal, state or even local political level.  The Global American research stated that Mexico has the lowest proportion of indigenous representatives in the region. Mexico’s parliament only has 14 indigenous representatives elected which means a striking representation gap between the percentage of indigenous people in the country and the percentage of indigenous members of the legislature: 81% followed by a gap of 73% in Peru and 69% in Guatemala.

Mexico does not demand ethnic-based quotas within political parties’ lists but since 2001, parties have been taking indigenous populations into consideration when drawing electoral districts. However, their representation is still one of the lowest in the region.

On the exercise of prior consultation on decisions affecting indigenous peoples, the Mexican Constitution recognizes the right to prior consultation.  Article 2 explicitly states that the government should consult with the indigenous peoples when implementing development plans at the national, state, and municipal level. So far, there is no single overarching law that defines how prior consultation should be implemented in the country.

In this sense, a few weeks ago the legal protection granted by a judge to the community of Milpa Alta, a Southern District of Mexico City, has been considered as a critical decision by local leaders. Following a historical controversy with the government in the capital, the right of the indigenous communities to be consulted on any decision or public policy that affects them or their territories legitimately recognized as original peoples has been recognized by a judge. As stated by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, this legal text includes the guarantees on indigenous rights established in international and national legislation such as ILO Convention 169.

As part of the conclusions of the Working Group on Sustainability and Shared Societies convened by the Club de Madrid through its Shared Societies Project,  the special relationship that indigenous peoples have with their ancestral and customary territories is a critical reason to ensure their participation in decisions that affect their lands. The ability of indigenous peoples not only to maintain their own cultural context but also to fulfil their responsibilities to future generations, demonstrates the significance of their own local government systems, as is stated by this recent judicial decision on the community of Milpa Alta in Mexico City.

Cultural Diversity and Leadership Program in Australia


Australia’s population can be described as a truly multicultural society. With 28 percent of the population born overseas, it is fundamentally important for many to promote a new inclusive way of leadership that would represent the cultural diversity of the local population.
An initiative to promote Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership was organized by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, together with Australian Human Rights Commission, the University of Sydney Business School, Westpac, PwC Australia and Telstra.

The working group created a blueprint, Leading for Change, for organizations to take advantage of the cultural diversity of their workers and promote inclusive leadership that would meet current demands of the multicultural society.
The CEO of Westpac Group, Brian Hartzer, points out that “This Blueprint will help Australian businesses to see what best practice looks like when it comes to cultural inclusion. We think that the Blueprint will have a powerful impact in the community…”.
Leading to Change is the important initiative that opened up a conversation about the need to include people representing diverse cultures into leadership positions. The research conducted by the working group suggests that inclusive leadership produces better performance, productivity and decision-making. Leading for Change provides guidance for organizations to improve organizational performance related to cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.
Following the blueprint’s release in 2016, the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity was formed, which consists of senior leaders who advocate for cultural diversity in leadership. The Council indicates the under-representation of cultural diversity in leadership positions among Australian companies. Therefore, the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity regularly holds events and activities to encourage inclusive leadership.
One of the Shared Societies commitments is to promote respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity, and the Cultural Diversity and Leadership program in Australia can be used as a success story of embracing cultural diversity and a step forward towards creating a Shared Society.


“The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America”


Club de Madrid Member Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru, has just published his new book The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America. In this publication, the former President puts forth a proposal to minimize inequality, preserve the ecosystem, and strengthen democracy in Latin America. Toledo argues that only extraordinary efforts of vision, determination, courage and inspired leadership will set Latin America on the path to inclusive development, a manifesto for creating the ideal Shared Society.

I am a member of the Club de Madrid, a nonprofit organization of over 90 former leaders of democratic countries. The Club de Madrid has led the way in pushing for the creation of global and local shared societies through the Shared Societies Project. I believe that if we actively work to construct a Shared Society, our vision for Latin America’s future will be achieved.

Toledo states his vision of an inclusive Latin America where economic growth is combined with equitable distribution of its gains for all.

Shared Societies’ economies also reduces costs related to intersocietal tensions, like law enforcement, security, and the repair of damage caused by violence or protests.

The author restated the basic principles for building Shared Societies:

  1. Respect for the dignity of every individual.
  2. Equality and fairness.
  3. Respect for human rights and the rule of law.
  4. Democracy.

Toledo´s vision of Shared Societies emphasizes the cultural diversity of the Latin American people and encourages this diversity as a unique perspective on the region´s challenges. Regional integration and collaboration with “the fastest-growing region in the world: the Asia-Pacific rim” are seen by the author as competitive advantages to compete in the global economy. In this vision, Latin America will also share the benefits and profits more equitably as its economy advances, transforming the high proportion of Latin Americans now living in poverty into a vibrant and expanding middle class.

On April 22, President Toledo will take part in a discussion at a launch event of “The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America” at the Council of the Americas in New York.

Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel

Photo from The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

On February 2014, the Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues published the report, «Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel: Visions, Realities and Practices». The report, which is presented in two parts, “is a conceptual overview of the key approaches, meanings and milestones of Shared Society work in Israel and a mapping of current government and civil society Shared Society initiatives to provide a more granular illustration of these concepts as implemented today”. Moreover, this report aims to record the attitudes and understanding of the officials in Israel, in regards to Shared Societies, as well as to evaluate the relevance of these definitions for American Jewish organizations interested in Israel, the Arab Society the relations between them.

For their research, the Inter Agency Task Force members focused on the work, the key approaches and the underlying principles of Shared Society programs developed by civil society and not for profit organizations. The author the importance and the impact that the Shared Societies Project has had so far, by stating that the “best and most concise framing of shared society itself has been articulated by the Club de Madrid“. The report listed different approaches identified as guiding each organization’s decisions and actions when advancing into a shared society:

  1. Part of Israel’s Multicultural Diversity: For some organizations the issue of Jewish-Arab Shared Society is addressed as part of the wider context of multiculturalism or diversity in Israeli society.
  2. Singular Issue: Other organizations believe that the Jewish-Arab divide is “singular” in both character and importance within Israeli society and that therefore Shared Society work should address it as a unique and particular issue.
  3. Focus on Inter-Communal Relations: Some organizations focus on creating better relations between Jewish and Arab communities or particular stakeholders within the communities (i.e. students, teachers, artists) through encounters, shared living education, and joint projects.
  4. State-Minority Relations: Other organizations believe that the focus should be placed on state-minority relations.
  5. Focus on Arab Society Internal Development / Economic Integration: Another group of organizations views the need to enhance economic development and capacities within the Arab community as a priority in working towards a shared, equal and integrated society.
  6. Inclusivity in Service Provision: A number of civil society organizations that provide services to the entire Israeli citizenry, give special attention to enhancing a Shared Society by purposefully developing specially tailored services for the Arab communities.

Additionally, the report offers a very informative list of the initiatives that have been taken both by the government of Israel has taken over the years, through the Ministry of Education as well as on local government level and  by Civil Society and readers can find a list of efforts and projects that have been taken and various ideas for follow-ups that aim to create a society that may be diverse yet inclusive.

The Club de Madrid is very encouraged to have been included as a key reference in the work of a fellow organization and encourages the Inter Agency Task Force to continue its work on the issue of social inclusion and inter-communal relations between the Jewish and Arab groups, especially as it is operating in a region where the concept of “Shared Societies” is still relatively new.


Photo by The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

The Shared Societies Project, in the spanish public TV


Following the news about the Lampedusa tragedy, the spanish public television (TVE) interviewed Carlos Westendorp, Secretary General of the Club de Madrid, and showed the work of the Shared Societies Project and its call to avoid xenophobia by dealing efficiently with the differences in a society.

Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005) and Member of the Club de Madrid, also talked with TVE about the project and her own experience. “When we took the Government we worked with the majority community, which I belong to, to convince them that the other groups should have the same rights. Because this is the duty of governments: change attitudes, and not only think about votes”, she told.

Beatriz Merino, former Prime Minister of Peru, was interviewed too. She explained the issue of double discrimination (women that suffer discrimination to belong a social minority, but also to be women), that the Club de Madrid studied in a working group who met in madrid, leaded by President Kumaratunga.

Watch here the full interview (in spanish. It starts at time code 7:10)

Ver vídeoLa tarde en 24 horas - El mundo en 24 h. - 04/10/13

Club de Madrid offers support for democratic changes in Myanmar


President of the Club de Madrid, Wim Kok, and Member Kjell Magne Bondevik led a mission to identify potential work to support national efforts in  transition to Democracy

Wim Kok, President of the Club de Madrid and former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway, led a second high level mission of the organization to Myanmar between 30 of May and 2 of June to identify potential work to support national efforts in  transition to Democracy through the Project: “Accompanying Change, Fostering Democracy and Building Shared Societies in Myanmar”.

They met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who welcomes Club de Madrid efforts to support the democratic transition in Myanmar, Minister U Aung Min, responsible for the peace negotiations with the ethnic groups, new elected National League for Democracy members of their Executive Committee and other key national and international stakeholders in the country.

These two missions, the first one took place in February 2013- were intended to build trust among Burmese authorities, democratic movement, civil society, ethnic groups and other relevant stakeholders in order to identify a potential long-term initiative to provide Burmese leadership accompaniment, counsel and support in facing the daunting challenges of democratic transition, including the probable increased tensions as the country gets closer to the 2015 general elections.

The Club de Madrid assists in the identification of politically sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by today’s leaders, developing practical recommendations, action plans and implementation strategies. The direct exchanges with current leaders on a peer to peer basis, and the Member´s ability to deliver the right message at the right time are an essential part of its work and are the core of the Club de Madrid’s impact


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