Since we are born, our main learning mechanism is mimesis. We imitate the behavior of our immediate surroundings, measuring our abilities and our limits. When we are adults we continue to do this, in the best-case scenario in respect to goals we want to achieve and which add to our surroundings. If we wanted to learn to dance, for example, we go to a class where someone, who already knows how to dance, teaches us to do it. They first show us the basic movements before the choreographic sequences become increasingly complex. We use music that helps us to keep time, and there is also a mirror that provides us with a perspective distanced from our movements. Until the day that we change our behavior, we are capable of improvising if we have talent, and we can even innovate the way in which things were usually done.
This learning mechanism: does it serve to think of civic participation? Bridging the gap, good practices are also a useful instrument for collective learning and a source of knowledge that can be replicated to advance development on both a local level as well as in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Our team at the IDB understands that sectors important for the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), such as agriculture or extractive sector projects, both provide 4% of the regional GDP. They come with challenges that many times lead to social conflicts, but also account for good practices where the link between governments, industries and communities brings regional development.
We went forward with this idea and met with other colleagues to generate a diagnostic of good practices in civic participation in various countries. We framed those good practices as behaviors characterized by their levels of participation, relevance and sustainability. That way we found examples of where the participation included the community in an effective way, with a voice and a vote on the decisions being made. We also found cases that were relevant in a way that the projects were suitable and appropriate for those communities, and sustainable, where they provided conditions to have continuity in the middle and long term. We also proposed to look for good practices that were measurable and comparable.
In our diagnostic we found a number of examples. To get to know more than one of them, we traveled to the Argentine Patagonia to get a first-hand experience of the program for small and middle sized businesses(SME) in the San Jorge Gulf.
In 2005, the Pan American Energy (PAE) business, one of the main producers of petrol and gas in Argentina, began to develop in the San Jorge Gulf, one of its operating areas, a SMEs program. For this, it called for entrepreneurs in the influence zone of its operations. These were the towns of Comodoro Rivadavia, Rada Tilly and Sarmiento, in the south of the provinces of Chubut, and Pico Truncado and Caleta Olivia, in the North of the province of Santa Cruz. This included local governments and universities and institutions of investigation with a territorial presence. As a result of this alliance, it led to the initiative of support of local entrepreneurship, both those linked to extractive activities as well as to other branches.
The program strengthens the development and professionalization of the SMEs through training and technological, financial and commercial counseling. Social capital is generated that strengthens the local economy and benefits the business, that can work with local providers. The success of this initiative has led the PAE to replicate it in its holdings in the provinces of Neuquen and Salta.
Good practices are not a magic-solution to resolve conflict, but they can serve as a compass to sustain the rhythm and charter new narratives. This is where knowledgeable and open minds replicate what works, discontinue what does not provide good results and innovate to reach and include more people in the efforts of sustainable growth for everyone.
We have created a site to get to know more about this topic and at the same time understand new focuses on development in the region. There is where we give visibility to the efforts of organizations in 26 countries, registered on the georeferenced platform WiConnect. We’ll add more examples of real successful cases and consulting material, specialized forums and training opportunities as well as calls for competitions to understand how the 3 main stakeholders in the region collaborate: citizens, businesses and governments. Even though keeping the rhythm by yourself seems simpler, the coordinated actions between these stakeholders maximize the positive impact and improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Experta en temas de estrategia y políticas de participación ciudadana. Abogada J.D. con Maestría en Desarrollo y Reducción de Pobreza, especializada en Negocios y Derechos Humanos y certificada en Liderazgo Público de la Universidad de Harvard. Se desempeña como Asesora del Vicepresidente de Países del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) en temas de participación ciudadana.