SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Nov. 13 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The II Congress of Neighborhood Associations of the Canary Islands was held this Saturday in the city of Arucas, where representatives of the neighborhood associative fabric and public administrations have met to address the fundamental role that these types of associations play in the construction of governance open.
The event was organized by the General Directorate of Transparency and Citizen Participation of the Government of the Canary Islands, dependent on the Ministry of Public Administrations, Justice and Security, together with the Department of Citizen Participation of the City Council of Arucas, the Insular Directorate of Citizen Participation of the Cabildo Gran Canaria and the Canary Neighborhood Associations.
The content of the Congress has been marked by the pillars of participation, representation and transparency in decision-making, one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This set of objectives set by the United Nations is also one of the roadmaps for the regional government in the elaboration of its Canary Islands Sustainable Development Agenda (ACDS).
To move towards this, the Congress has touched on various issues, such as the leadership of the neighborhood movement, the role of youth, new technologies and new platforms for citizen participation or how to access institutions through electronic venues.
For the general director of Transparency and Citizen Participation of the Government of the Canary Islands, Marta Saavedra, acts like this one “encourage associations and groups to continue training so that they understand that they have to be empowered, they have to take sides, they have to participate. Just that’s how you get truly transparent governments. “
He also wanted to highlight that society is experiencing a time of openness to public opinion, of “being accountable to the public,” which makes citizen participation necessary and thus be able to influence and participate in the decision-making process that affects people. “Citizens as a whole is the true engine for achieving social progress, from the local to the global, to contribute with their proposals and actions to this sustainable progress,” he said.
For his part, the general director of Citizen Participation of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Jorge Pérez Artiles, was satisfied with the celebration of this event that is related to the work carried out in his area. “For the Cabildo de Gran Canaria it is important that neighborhood groups are strengthened and are channels of the empowerment of citizens, of participation in public decision-making,” he stressed.
The town chosen for the celebration of this event, which was interrupted by the pandemic, was Arucas. This city in the north of Gran Canaria has recently worked on citizen participation, as defended by its mayor, Juan Jesús Facundo, during the inauguration. “From the Department of Citizen Participation of the City Council of Arucas we have always been working hand in hand with the collectives. Associations have been going since the 70s and have evolved, so I believe that Arucas has been a benchmark in this type of citizen participation “, he stressed.
The Councilor for Citizen Participation of the Gran Canaria Consistory, Yésica Guerra, stressed that during this day Arucas has been the engine of this meeting, “where experts will explain how citizen participation has changed, since citizen participation is not only for neighborhood associations but also for groups and individuals “.
The coordinator of the Canary Islands Neighborhood Associations, Francisco Barreto, was confident in the ability of social movements to transform society. “We firmly believe in the empowerment of the residents of the Canary Islands through their social movements. We also believe that it is very necessary because we have to work in the union of social actors. Putting our effort, one minute a day, so that each month we can dedicate 30 minutes to the big neighborhood, we can move forward and live better, “he said.
ROLE OF NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS.
Once the opening ceremony was over, a keynote presentation was held under the title The role of Neighborhood Associations, Present and Future, in which three experts in neighborhood movements participated. Miguel Díaz, Ana María Moreno Mederos and José Luis Rodríguez Velázquez shared their reflections and experiences on the concept of participation, how to generate influence in public powers or the use of ICTs in neighborhood movements.
Díaz wanted to stress that public administrations play an important role so that the citizen has more and more prominence in the decision-making process. Ana María Moreno went one step further to clarify that citizen participation is not decision-making. “It must be clear that in participatory processes the citizen does not make decisions but is part of the metabolism; it is then the politician who makes the decision,” he clarified.
Rodríguez stressed that his definition of citizen participation went to the very roots of the concept: “Participating is being able to give an active opinion and that our context recognizes that opinion and can be influenced.”
The interlocutors agreed on the importance of this citizen contribution having the power to influence public powers. For Velázquez it is essential that the neighborhood associations are clear about their mission and Moreno stressed that “the neighborhood movement must begin to lead that citizen participation, it has to take a step forward and become a protagonist to collaborate with public administrations.”
Regarding the contribution that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can make, the speakers slightly disagreed on the use of the digital certificate or electronic invoices. For Díaz, the administrations should take into account that many of the people who are part of the neighborhood movements are not digital natives and should devise a model that combines the presentation of telematic documentation with another in person. Moreno, for his part, considered that the possibility of signing documents destined for the Administration through electronic signatures may represent an advance in the processing of procedures.
In the afternoon session, the Congress organized six working groups grouped under the themes: Incorporation into leadership, the role of young people today, Sharing projects and community actions on the islands, New forms of communication, use of ICTs, Relations with public administrations , Citizen Participation Regulations and Legislation, Radiography of Neighborhood Associations in the Canary Islands, and the role of the movement in the Canary Islands Society in times of post-pandemic and Participatory Budgets: what they are and how they work and in which one of them also participated Marta Saavedra.