Launch of ASAP Spain at Universitat Pompeu Fabra
By Paula Casal, ASAP Board Member and Chair of ASAP Spain
The Spanish launch started at 9:30 am on November 29th, 2013, at the Auditorium Mercé Rodoreda of the University Pompeu Fabra. The auditorium was flanked with stands with ASAP t-shirts and recent publications, including new translations of Thomas Pogge’s work, and all the seats were full.
The day began with an informal reception. Guests included UPF´s Vice-rector of Social Responsibility, Monica Figueras, who came to express her personal and institutional support, and UPF’s former rector Josep Joan Moreso, who now works on global justice and constitutionalism, and who also expressed his endorsement of ASAP.
Once participants picked up their name tags and found their seats, Louise McNally, UPF’s Vice-rector of Research, speaking on behalf of the new Rector, Jaume Casals, expressed the Rector’s regrets that he could not attend and UPF’s support of ASAP\’s work to foster research that benefits the world’s poor. She also explained some of the efforts that UPF has already made to adhere to principles of global justice, such as adopting energy savings policies and switching to Fair Trade coffee. She then introduced Nuria Almirón, who presented plans for further efforts for social responsibility at UPF. Almirón, Monica Figueras, ASAP Board Member Paula Casal, and others at the UPF Ethical Sustainability Working Group, have written a plan for introducing sustainability, global justice, gender equality, and respect for other species as \”transversal\” themes to be taught alongside other disciplines in which the UPF offers degrees. It also involves practical measures such as cruelty-free, low CO2 meals and new ethical requirements for UPF suppliers.
Paula Casal then commented on the regrettable absence of Ramón Fernández Durán from ADENAT and Paco Fernández Buey from UPF, whom she said would have taken part, had they still been living. She also expressed her regrets that Juán
Hernandez Vigueras, member of the Scientific Committee of ATTAC and co-founder of Tax Justice Network, could not be there, having had to cancel his talk because he was ill. She then introduced ASAP President Thomas Pogge, who explained the causes of global poverty and the context in which ASAP developed, and Professor Luis Cabrera, who presented ASAP, its goals, composition, activities and projects. Having answered questions from the audience, the participants broke for a vegetarian brunch.
After the break, there was a round table on poverty alleviation solutions chaired by Rafael Vilasanjuán, director of the Institute of Global Health in Barcelona. The discussion opened with remarks by ICREA Professor Giorgios Kallis from Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona, who argued against the assumption that poverty should be eradicated through growth and explained why growth (in both the North and the South) is both insufficient and unnecessary for achieving a reduction in global poverty. Then Gonzalo Fanjul, formerly research director at Oxfam and now research associate at the Institute of Global Health, spoke about the positive effect of immigration on poverty reduction, the inhumanity of modern detention centers, and the need to change current policies on immigration. Thomas Pogge then explained how the Health Impact Fund could simultaneously address the problem of lack of research on the diseases of the poor and the so-called \”last mile problem\”—the challenge of effective administration of medicines in poor areas that lack the facilities to store them and the personnel to administer them correctly. Finally, ASAP Board Member Luis Cabrera explained his project \”Impact: Global Poverty,\” which records the cases of academics who have made an exceptional impact on poverty reduction. All four participants then answered questions from the audience as well as from their chair, Rafael Vilasanjuán. The conference ended with a lecture by Professor Leif Wenar on our role in determining which (often illegitimate) rulers are granted the right to extract resources from their country and sell them to on the international market, and the solution he has devised to combat this problem. Professor Wenar\’s moving lecture was chaired by ICREA Professor Andrew Williams and followed by numerous questions from the audience.
Several participants then inquired about membership and internships and offered to help with further events.
The day ended with a dinner with the speakers, David Alvarez, now ASAP\’s representative in Portugal, David Rodríguez-Alvarez, ASAP\’s representative in Madrid, Nicole Selame, a Chilean who defends the right to access to the sea for Bolivia and other landlocked countries, and Ana Polo, speech writer at the Barcelona town hall, where the previous evening Thomas Pogge and Mara Dierssen had revived the Disputatio medieval tradition, debating over global health. The Disputatio was organized by ICREA Professor Genoveva Marti, director of the Barcelona Knowledge Hub of the Academia Europaea, and also a contributor to the newly formed ASAP Spain.
In addition to the coverage offered in La Vanguardia, El Periódico, Ara and Paperblog, David Rodríguez Arias published an extensive article on Thomas Pogge’s visit and views in the open access journal Dilemata, which subsequently released a monographic issue devoted to Responsibility and Global Justice with the participation of ASAP members Txetxu Ausín (Dilemata\’s director), Carissa Véliz, and Mitu Sengupta.