“The worst thing we can do on these matters is to look at them with close-range lenses”

“The worst thing we can do on these matters is to look at them with close-range lenses”

“The worst we can do on these matters is to look at them with close-range lenses”: Andrea Vignolo, Uruguayan cooperation agency. 

Below is an extract from the interview with Andrea Vignolo, Executive Director of the Uruguayan cooperation agency, and Alternate Focal Point of EUROCLIMA+ in Uruguay

Why is your agency a Focal Point of EUROCLIMA +? 

One of the topics that we considered in recent years was how best to coordinate European Union programmes at the country level. Important and strategic regional programmes that coincide with the national development plan we are promoting in Uruguay. Therefore, in agreement with the European Commission, during a regional meeting held with those responsible for cooperation with Latin America, we decided to promote those responsible for cooperation as national focal points to ensure better coordination of the programmes in our countries. For this reason, we consulted and agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Management and Environment (MVOTA) to be their alternates as Focal Points for the EUROCLIMA+ Programme. 

EUROCLIMA+ has enabled us to identify priority areas for the region, in which Europe can collaborate to achieve better results. The dialogue to reach agreement on the programme’s strategic lines went longer than initially envisaged because there were many variables to be defined and agreed upon. The truth is that it finally turned into a very fruitful process. The worse we can do on these matters is to view them through close-range lenses. 

Has cooperation with Europe been significant? 

I believe it has been. I will give you an example. Uruguay has made an important change in its energy matrix by incorporating renewable energy sources. But we did not do this alone. In the context of the Energy Policy 2005-2030, agreed on an inter-party basis, we managed to ensure that 63% of Uruguay’s primary energy grid in 2017 consisted of renewable sources, and that electricity was generated using 95% renewable sources. And in that process, international cooperation supported us by conducting studies, assessments and training, in addition to identifying public and private financial mechanisms that would allow for this qualitative leap in the use of renewable sources in the national energy grid. 

Which topics are still pending?

Water quality is an issue that concerns us and on which we have been working for some time, per the instructions of President Vazquez, since Uruguay is one of the region’s pioneering countries in creating interinstitutional structures to address the challenges of improving the quality of our natural resources. In this regard, we have made progress by approving a National Water Plan and we hope that the EUROCLIMA+ Programme will be an opportunity to support us in its implementation, contributing knowledge and experience exchanges with other countries.

How important for Uruguay is it that the next Conference on Climate Change (COP 25) will take place in Chile?

Uruguay is participating in the COP as a multilateral space, convinced that if we do not promote sustainable development, with all of us assuming our commitments, we will not achieve it. However, we are clearly aware that COP25 will not be the same as COP21: there are countries that have gradually been withdrawing. This prompts us to redouble our commitment to multilateralism and joint work in order to achieve sustainable development. 

In your opinion, is it very significant that, under the new terminology, Uruguay is now called, a “development in transition” country, and not a “high income country”?

International development cooperation has rules that Agenda 2030 and the SDGs question, and the concept of “development in transition” provides a space for dialogue that had been cut because of the “graduation”. In this regard, we emphasise the role of the European Union as a strategic partner for Latin America, one that has approved new instruments to continue its cooperation with the region. 

Although Latin America continues to have structural gaps, in these last few years it has reinforced its institutional framework and now has better trained human resources, which enables a greater capacity for dialogue. Now, with the European Union, we sit at the table as strategic partners to promote the notion that people should develop their life project wherever they wish. And, although it is a complex endeavour that continuously challenges us, we must continue moving forward together, so that Agenda 2030 does not simply remain a nice speech, but truly ensures that nobody is left behind.  

For more information:

Andrea Vignolo
Uruguayan International Cooperation Agency
Presidency of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay 

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