The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said this Thursday that Portugal’s Cooperation Strategy will extend to Africa beyond the Portuguese-speaking countries and considers partner countries’ health systems as a priority in this area.
“The area of cooperation and development is a structural part of Portugal’s foreign policy and complements two main areas: political and diplomatic dialogue with our partner countries, as well as the reality of economic and commercial exchanges, the work of our economic agents in these countries,” explained Francisco André in an interview Lusa.
This Thursday, Portugal’s Cooperation Strategy 2030, the policy framework for development cooperation for the next seven years, will be launched in Lisbon, replacing Portugal’s Strategic Cooperation Vision 2014-2020.
It is “desirable and necessary” for the private sector to participate in the cooperation policy.
In the context of the global economic crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, “the countries with which we work, our friendly countries, our brotherly countriesneed us more than words or gestures of solidarity or a pat on the back. They need funds, they need mechanisms and response capabilities from our side, as a member of the international community, to help them overcome this moment,” the minister explained.
In this sense, the new global plan envisages a geographical expansion of political cooperation beyond the Portuguese-speaking African countries (PALOP) and Timor-Leste, anchoring “the desire to expand, especially on the African continent, the Portuguese cooperation potential for development, whether in West Africa or North Africa, and also in Latin America, where it already has a very prominent presence,” explained André.
In addition, the new strategy focuses on supporting education tools, as well as “learning opportunities and sustainability of health systems in partner countries”, – said the secretary of state, recalling that the pandemic “began to show some weaknesses that still exist” in many places.
“With this strategy, we are going to invest more money, more resources to increase this resilience, primarily through staff education, training and leadership capacity building of those same health systems,” he explained.
Among the priorities, the government named the fight against climate change, together with the Portuguese management in this sector.
“This is a particularly sensitive issue,” he admitted. “Obviously, some of our partner countries contribute the least to the climate change phenomenon, they are not greenhouse gas emitters, but at the same time they are the countries that suffer the most.”
And the Secretary of State cited the example of Mozambique, which “ranks among the three countries in the world most affected by the effects of climate change.”
Attention gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls it is also part of the “cross-cutting political goal of the Cooperation Strategy”, he said, stressing that the “gender magnifying glass” in Portuguese cooperation would be “mandatory”, imposing “a perspective conducive to strengthening gender equality in every country”. a cooperation project supported by or in which Portugal participates.
As far as Europe is concerned, Portuguese cooperation wants to “once and for all” take on the role of “structuring vector of European cooperation”, making the most of the available delegated cooperation instruments.
Regarding triangular cooperation, which refers to the bringing together of two countries to improve the development opportunities of the partner country, Portugal is negotiating with “very significant countries in the international arena”, according to Francisco André, such as the United States and the Camões Institute is preparing to sign a cooperation protocol with USAID, Japan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and others.
In addition to agreements with these countries, Portuguese cooperation increasingly wants to sit at the table of “international development finance institutions” such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank or the African Development Bank (ADB).
The purpose of this Strategy is to “enable civil society, universities, municipalities, various institutions and the private sector work collaboratively to develop“by being able to “develop, implement and execute projects,” he explained.