Spotlight on Cooperación Comunitaria: 2017 Green Star Award Winner!
Cooperación Comunitaria seeks to improve the habitability conditions of indigenous, rural communities in Mexico by facilitating a sustainable self-management of the social, economic and environmental factors for rural development.
Interview with Isadora Hastings, Director of Cooperación Comunitaria
“We never thought that our contribution to the rural communities that we have always seen as a local solution at a very
small scale, could achieve international recognition. It has been great motivation for the team.”
How does your initiative contribute to bringing environmental actors and disaster responders/ peacebuilding actors closer together?
In an effort to strengthen advocacy, we bring the situation and key problems in rural, marginalised areas, to the attention of public policy offices. We connect civil society actors from the field to those in the city, and bring professionals, academics, government actors as well as local UN offices closer to local communities. Due to our comprehensive reconstruction program, which entails working with an interdisciplinary team, we are connected to diverse fora. We ensure that indigenous knowledge and the ways in which indigenous communities respond to environmental disasters, are integrated into our reconstruction efforts, thereby ensuring true intercultural dialogue.
Given your professional experience and the work of your organization in the field of environment and emergencies, please share with us 2 of the most important lessons you took away from Nairobi.
Learning about temporary housing is a concern for every country in every disaster recovery situation. In Guerrero where we work, we have seen some temporary housing reconstruction programs that have failed, although our reconstruction programs aim to develop permanent and progressive solutions. It has been a lesson for us to see how temporary housing programs in other communities are responding. During the presentations and talks I attended, I realized that this is a global problem that has not yet been solved. In Mexico following the recent earthquakes, we are trying to raise awareness to prevent certain actors from building temporary houses, and recommending permanent but progressive housing solutions instead.
The work of your organization exemplifies moving from crisis to opportunity in the face of humanitarian/environmental emergencies. What do you believe is the key factor driving this in your organization?
To merge traitional knowledge with technical and cultural contextual adapted knowledge, because the mix allows us to enhance the environmental, productive and constructive processes, thereby increasing quality of life and the resilience of the population.
Involving the population along the recovery and reconstruction process from the analysis of territory, disaster risk, and its causes, up until the reconstruction of productive and constructive processes, enables the population to be involved in the learning process and increases their resilience. A disaster is an opportunity for an affected community to recover while learning from its mistakes, to begin a reflective process, to learn from the environment, to organize, to make decisions, to build and produce better, to reduce and prevent risks, and thereby strengthen resilience.
What message would you like to share with others striving to do the same in their organizations?
Reconstruction processes are not just about rebuilding the infrastructure but also the relations and social structures. When a disaster occurs, we must first try to learn from the context, the environment, the culture; we must listen before starting to help and reconstruct.
A combination of traditional knowledge and academic and technical expertise is needed in order to optimize human possibilities. This will in turn achieve better results and foster a harmonic relationship between humans and nature. The participation of communities reduces the costs of reconstruction. Therefore, recovery and reconstruction programs must include planning on civil society participation.
The Green Star Awards (GSA) is a collaborative initiative of Green Cross International, UN Environment and OCHA. On Tuesday 27 September, the 2017 GSA ceremony recognized three organizations for their commitment to preventing, preparing for, and responding to environmental emergencies, as well as their efforts to integrate environment in humanitarian action. Find out more here!
Watch Cooperación Comunitaria’s profile video to learn more!