June 19, 2024 #Columns

Columna | Chile and the world: the determinants of the siege

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Chile supports multilateralism, but aspires to an efficient and updated multilateralism, from which to emphasize the urgency of seeking solutions among all, large, medium and small countries".

Column by Fernando Reyes Matta, former Chilean Ambassador to China and Director of Fundación Imagen de Chile.

President Lula could not come, because his priority duty summoned him: to be with his people in the face of the serious floods that have hit southern Brazil. It is regrettable, because such a dialogue between the Brazilian president and President Boric would have shown how much common sensibility they have in the face of the new challenges the planet is going through.

Last December, speaking at COP28, Lula pointed out that humanity is suffering from increasingly extreme and frequent droughts, floods and heat waves. "The Amazon is suffering one of the most tragic droughts in its history. In the south, storms and cyclones leave an unprecedented trail of destruction and death," he stressed, adding that "science and reality show us that this time the bill has come sooner." By the way, he said this thinking that the 2025 COP will be in the Amazon, in Bethlehem. Now, a couple of weeks ago, speaking with António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, Boric agreed, as he has been doing, that today's world demands to make international policy thinking with high priority on how much humanity lives and suffers as a whole.

On that occasion, he remarked that "today, as a generation, we are facing existential dilemmas" and, in doing so, he gave clear signs of the axes from which the determinants of our foreign policy come from today, because it is our Existence, with capital letters, which humanity is seeing under siege from different threats and complexities.

It happens with democracy, with social development, with living conditions on the planet, with the irruptive impact of digital changes and artificial intelligence. These are realities in the face of which Chile supports multilateralism, but aspires to an efficient and updated multilateralism, from which to emphasize the urgency of seeking solutions among all -large, medium and small countries-, assuming the logics of the advanced North, but also those of the Global South.

Now, as the third Presidential Message approaches, it is possible that this frame of reference becomes more visible when talking about Chile's role in today's world. But this requires linking in a new narrative various facts - those that come from before and the explosively new ones - on which a platform of international dimension that we do not always see is based.

Chile was elected to chair the United Nations Economic and Social Council for the period 2023/2024 and everyone agrees that Ambassador Paula Narváez has put new energy into this entity. The Congress of the Future provides a prestigious basis for influencing the Summit of the Future next September, at the same time that it begins to project its work beyond its borders; it recently did so in Bolivia. The second Social Development Summit is being prepared for 2025, without forgetting that the first -in 1995- was a Chilean initiative promoted by the then Ambassador Juan Somavía. The commitment to the defense of Biodiversity in the High Seas has Chile as a main actor. And here were all the highest authorities of the United Nations in an Executive Council headed by António Guterres, Secretary General of the world body. For the first time they wanted to hold this strategic meeting in Latin America and they chose Chile for it.

But, together with these events that could be considered as a classic foreign policy agenda, it is worth adding others, those that determine how Chile will become part of the global agenda from the local level. This is what emerges when green hydrogen plants are inaugurated in Magallanes; a desalination plant is put out to tender in Coquimbo; the Gran Teno photovoltaic plant in the Maule Region begins its work; the largest renewable energy storage system in Latin America is inaugurated in Antofagasta; and Chile responds with good technicians and workers to install the world's great astronomical observatories here. This is where Chile is, from different areas of action, taking part and promoting an agenda much more linked to the 21st century than the one inherited from the confrontations of the 20th century.

This meeting in Chile of world authorities, such as the directors of the International Labor and Health Organizations, or the directors of the World Trade Organization and UN-Women, among others, leads to a not minor question: why did all of them, when deciding that their maximum coordination meeting would take place for the first time in Latin America, choose Chile as the place to do it?

The merits derive from different moments in our history, with concrete contributions made by great figures of our diplomacy, but also from the innovative sensitivity that Chile shows after the pandemic to identify where the fundamental issues are, in which there is only salvation with the cooperation and dialogue of all. Otherwise, everyone "sinks alone", as the Chilean President said.

Recalling the key book by the visionary ambassador Hernán Santa Cruz, Cooperate or Perish: The Dilemma of the World Community, President Boric pointed out that this maxim was fully valid. It arose from other contexts, in another world order, but contemporary realities make the essence of that phrase even more valid. In other words, the global aspect of a humanity that has already crossed 8 billion interconnected inhabitants is more global than ever.

In parallel, in the same week Chile and Unesco also hosted the thirty-first World Press Freedom Day Conference. Its slogan was clear with respect to the issues at hand: "Press for the Planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis". At the closing session, Chancellor Alberto van Klaveren noted that "the international community must actively seek to protect journalists and communicators in general and those dedicated to environmental issues in particular. To protect them is to protect our planet. Without their work, it will be much more difficult to have a citizenry that is properly informed about this reality.

As Unesco noted on the eve of the meeting in Chile, "the climate and biodiversity crisis affects not only the environment and ecosystems, but also the lives of billions of people around the world. Their stories of upheaval and loss deserve to be known and shared. They are not always pleasant to watch. They can even be disturbing. But only by knowing them is it possible to act. Exposing the crisis is the first step to solving it."

At the time of the synthesis and perspectives that define every Presidential Message, it is worth valuing the words of António Guterres himself, delivering his message from La Moneda together with President Boric. There he said: "Chile's commitment to climate action, the protection of biodiversity and the oceans, and its leadership in renewable energies exemplify the path to follow".

Being an example honors, but also obliges. To a large extent, Chile is going through a time of renewal in the axes of its foreign policy. Sometimes, due to the short-sightedness of some or the lack of communication about the set of diverse actions that constitute a whole greater than the sum of its parts, we do not appreciate locally what we are and can be.

When the current government came to power, it did so with a phrase that may have sounded like occasional rhetoric: "Chile needs the world, the world needs Chile". But in its deep content there is a greater commitment: to know what we can receive from the world that will strengthen us towards the future; to know what we can give to the world that will contribute to a better humanity. When we articulate in the analysis those practices that come from far away in the country's international path, with those that are born from today's planetary urgencies, we will be able to say that Chile is on the right path.

Check out the column on the official website of El Mostrador Newspaper here.

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