|▲ Sally Fegan-Wyles visited Jeju-CIFAL, housed within Jeju Peace Institute, Jungmun. Photo courtesy United Nations
Director of UNITAR Sally Fegan-Wyles jetted into Jeju last month to meet with CIFAL-Jeju Ambassador Chung Dal-ho and get a closer look at UNITAR’s Asia Pacific projects.
CIFAL-Jeju (French for “International Training Center for Local Actors” - also known locally as Jeju International Training Center/JITC) in Jungmun is the youngest of nine centers internationally, with a tenth planned in Mexico.
The center was established in 2010 and is part of an international UNITAR network that provides capacity-building training to maximize knowledge transfer to actors from developing countries.
UNITAR targets long-term change, getting “behind [communities] and supporting to remove obstacles [to development].” These obstacles are legion, as Fegan-Wyles explains.
“UNITAR was established in 1963 when a lot of countries were gaining independence. They wanted to take part in global decision-making...But they didn’t have people with the [necessary] international or diplomatic negotiating skills,” she said.
UNITAR stepped in to train in “multinational diplomacy, negotiation and other substantive areas,” so smaller nations could stand toe-to-toe on the world stage. This was developed further in 2000 when the first CIFAL center was inaugurated.
|▲ Jeju-CIFAL shares a building with Jeju Peace Institute, Jungmun. Photo courtesy Jeju-CIFAL
“The best kind of learning is to...learn from others who have recently gone through the same experience...in a similar situation and culture, if possible. Experience exchange is absolutely part of the best kind of capacity building,” said Fegan-Wyles.
Fegan-Wyles has a lot of experience to exchange herself: she pioneered the first HIV/AIDS program in Uganda in 1985, advised the post-civil-war Museveni government on social policy, and led the 1991 international flood relief effort in Zimbabwe. She has also been Senior Adviser on System-Wide Coherence and Director of the UN Development Group Office (UNDG). Now steering the global UNITAR ship, she has seen many paradigm shifts in her time.
“For the first twenty years...we were basically providing services...I now realize that if the national partners don’t come to make the decisions themselves - have ownership - then it is very unlikely to last,” she said.
“A lot of countries still do not have major investment in international diplomacy and [their international representatives] do not have the skills that they require. We work with them and help them...level the playing field,” said Fegan-Wyles.
Korea is a nation that has famously leveled the playing field in rapidly developing in the latter half of the twentieth century. This was a factor in Jeju hosting a CIFAL center.
“Korea has a lot to teach - the multilateralism, the UN, the sharing, is very, very positive...Not every country takes such a generous approach. The fairly recent development and a generosity of wanting to help others [means Korea] is a good model of development.”
In addition to its rapid development, Korea’s willingness to give back, reflected in Jeju government’s own growing international aid program, is highly respected internationally.
“As soon as Korea could become a donor, it became a donor. Surprisingly, there are very many countries that (...) have not chosen to take that step.”
CIFAL centers are giving back through specialized training programs - Jeju’s being environment and human security. The centers are both physical learning institutes and links in a virtual knowledge-sharing network.
“The Secretary General [Ban Ki Moon] hopes to build a more rational way of sharing and storing knowledge and research [through a] global database of public information...He is a very determined man so...we hope for a resolution to establish this new organization [to serve] the member states. Fegan-Wyles stresses that CIFAL centers also bring local benefits.
“The local population should benefit in two ways: local officers learn better ways of management and smart city approaches to services; the centers also run courses [for] the local people if there is a demand for it.”
Founded on Oct. 24, 2010, “to build regional local government capacities on localising green growth and human security through an annual series of specialised workshops.”
Scope: East Asia
● Localizing green growth and eco-efficiency;
● Sustainable urbanization and environment;
● Human security and local development.
● Low-carbon cities - green growth in local government planning
● Eco-efficiency in local development strategies
● Biodiversity and local governance and management
● Food security from a local government perspective
● Cities, migration, and anti-trafficking for local governments
More information on CIFAL-Jeju can be found at www.cifaljeju.org.