Policy & Global Development

Dialogue as a Weapon of Mass Construction

“Dialogues for the Day After” a seminar organised in Soria by El Día Después, an ISGlobal initiative

15.07.2021
Photo: itdUPM

El Día Después (the Day After online platform), in collaboration with the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and the Centro Internacional Antonio Machado (CIAM), organised a seminar entitled “Dialogues for the Day After” in Soria from 5 to 7 July 2021. This was the first in‑person event after a year of online meetings and discussions. During the three-day meeting, more than 200 participants discussed humanism, the common good and the role of local government. El Día Después is an initiative set up by the Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid (itdUPM), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development *REDS) and Iberdrola. The aim of the initiative is to accelerate progress towards meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The first day, dedicated to discussion about humanism, began with a round table during which the organisers reflected on the trajectory of the initiative since the formation of the platform in March 2020.  Carlos Mataix, professor at the UPM and director of itdUPM made the point that the pandemic has provided us with an X-ray of ourselves, as individuals and as a society, and has revealed that inequality is one of the greatest problems facing humanity. In the course of the day’s conversation, the participants at the different round tables emphasised the importance of dialogue and the dangers of a post-truth world.

Co-Responsibility, Empathy and Equity for the Common Good

The theme of the dialogue on the second day was the relationship between capitalism and the common good. Participants reviewed success stories related to the pandemic health response and emphasised the strategic importance of investing in knowledge and innovation and understanding that the returns of such investment are seen in the medium and long term. The discussion also highlighted the fact that one of the keys to obtaining results quickly and efficiently is a collaborative ecosystem in which universities, the public sector and private business work together with a common goal.

Leire Pajín, director of global development at ISGlobal and chair of the Spanish Sustainable Development Solutions Network (REDS), stressed that “the pandemic has not ended and will not end as long as the current global inequity in access to vaccines persists”. She also stressed the need for urgent action on effective and comprehensive preparedness and response mechanisms to ensure that we will be ready for future crises rather than waiting to react only when they occur.

Another topic of discussion was the health of the public debate. Several former politicians expressed their concern that the tension and polarisation currently pervading Spanish politics could spill over into other spheres of public debate. Other participants stressed the urgent need for reform in the fight against inequality.

Working With and For People

On the third and final day of the event, the discussions focused on taking the conclusions of earlier debates from the realm of ideas into the real world.  Representatives of the city councils of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Soria and Valencia discussed urban transformation within the framework of the European mission to achieve 100 healthy, climate-neutral cities by 2030.