The CEO of the Guatemalan Development Foundation (FUNDESA), Juan Carlos Zapata, recently published an article ¨How Guatemala Is Tackling Its Social Issues¨ in the Americas Quarterly‘s latest edition. Fundesa is a private non-profit think tank formed by Guatemalan entrepreneurs in their personal capacity, who have been working on improving social inclusion on the back of last year’s poor evaluation of Guatemalan in the Americas Quarterly´s 2013 Social Inclusion Index.
This work, through an initiative called Mejoremos Guate (Let’s Make Guatemala Better), emphasized that promoting active and direct dialogue has resulted in increasing of public expenditure on human development, in particular, through the support of the Intercultural Commission, a group of Indigenous people and private sector actors; who are actively engaged in promoting actions on social development issues. A direct result is the deepening participation of indigenous peoples in international discussion forums such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Ensuring the sustainability of these actions represents a major challenge that lies ahead. At this point the Shared Societies Project is playing a significant role in advocating and supporting initiatives aimed at overcoming social exclusion. On 2013, the Club of Madrid organised a mission to Guatemala City in which the project exchanged ideas about the importance of building partnership at the local level between the state and political leaders, civil society, religious institutions and the private sector, as an effective way to address the challenges of achieving an inclusive society.
In Guatemala, while some progress has being made in terms of social inclusiveness thanks to the joint actions between all stakeholders, issues still remain unresolved; the Shared Societies Project is committed to supporting national efforts in making progress towards building the consensus needed to develop effective public policies in order to achieve sustainable Shared Societies.
Mejoremos Guate is a good example of the mechanism of Consulta Previa (prior consultation in policy and planning with affected groups) in practice. On July 16 the Club of Madrid had the opportunity to share its work-in-progress initiative on Consulta Previa in Peru at the launching of the Americas Quarterly issue on “The Perils and Promises of Consulta Previa” in New York. According to Christopher Sabatini the editor-in-chief of AQ, the adoption and implementation of the Consulta Previa processes in Latin America ¨represents one of the defining issues in politics, economics, and investment in the region¨, and a critical step in promoting a society based on respect for diversity and minority rights.