Participatory Democracy and a Sustainable End to Hunger in Mexico, Globally

Undersecretary of Social and Human Development Álvarez speaks to Importance of Participatory Democracy

On September 24th, during the week of the UN General Assembly, The Hunger Project proudly launched the inaugural State of Participatory Democracy Report in New York City. The report is the product of a partnership between The Hunger Project and the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF): a two-year project to cultivate a global community of practice among individuals striving to build capacity for effective, responsive local governance with a particular focus on impoverished rural areas. When speaking at the launch event, Executive Head of UNDEF Roland Rich reiterated the fundamental value of local level democracy, stating that “decisions should be handed down to the lowest level where they can effectively be made.”

In recognition of the report and as a demonstration of the impact of The Hunger Project’s greater commitment to local democracy in Latin America specifically, Undersecretary of Social and Human Development Ernesto Nemer Álvarez, from the Secretary of Social Development of Mexico, spoke on behalf of President Peña Nieto’s at the launch event.

In the final months of the first year of President Nieto’s ambitious new social policy the National Crusade Against Hunger (the Crusade), The Hunger Project is proud to look back on the role The Hunger Project-Mexico’s leadership has played in this innovative national commitment to eradicate hunger at the local level in partnership with the Government of Mexico. Undersecretary Nemer Álvarez highlighted the Government of Mexico’s coordination with civil society organizations – particularly with The Hunger Project-Mexico – as crucial building blocks in their bottom-up development strategy. He reiterated President Peña Nieto’s commitment to involving the citizens, “the only way to achieve development is from the bottom up, involving all citizens in the democratic process.”

Speaking to the Government of Mexico’s commitment to eliminate hunger and improve access to social programs among 7 million Mexicans, Undersecretary Nemer Álvarez highlighted the key characteristics of all new social programs in Mexico, a list that aligns with The Hunger Project’s three pillars:

  • Productive. Transforming the Government’s vision of social policy from hand-out based development to productive development will remove dependency, and provide sustainable income-based exits from poverty.
  • Comprehensive. Reducing malnutrition and hunger is best achieved as joint endeavors with other social development goals such as improving infrastructure, increased access to health services, improved housing, and basic education expansion.
  • Coordinated. The Government of Mexico is building new social policy having learned from their past experiences, but also those of partner countries. This intergovernmental and intragovernmental coordination allows for a more comparative approach that is a “way of finding best practice” (as mentioned earlier in the evening by Roland Rich, Executive Head of UNDEF).
  • Locally-oriented. Implementation should be decentralized to regional and local levels. By consulting and involving community members directly, the policies are sure to have the deepest impact, through the most effective means.
  • Participatory. The vision for the future of Mexico is one that maximizes the participation of an active citizenry, engaged in the democratic process and development.
  • Empowering. Fundamentally, all new social policies are intended to develop capacity and capabilities of Mexican citizens, so that they may become empowered and active citizens responsible for their own development.

The Hunger Project is proud to partner with the Government of Mexico as an adaptive and inspiring leader in the mission to end hunger and poverty for its citizens. The partnership with UNDEF to continue learning from the local democracy practices of governments like Mexico’s and others around the world will inform The Hunger Project’s programs moving forward.

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