“The SDGs are our common compass”

Durdana Prado Álvarez is the coordinator for the 2030 Agenda at the Ministry of Planning and Citizen Participation in the Mexican state of Jalisco. There she is in charge of promoting the SDGs and aligning them with official development efforts. Prado has held this position since November 2019. She is an alumna of the DAAD and studied in Cologne and Leipzig.

DAAD alumna Durdana Prado Álvarez

What do the SDGs mean for you?

They give us a compass to go forward, to tackle challenges and to deal with problems. That is true for all societies and all countries. I therefore think the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are really relevant for everyone of us.

You work with the 2030 Agenda professionally, as coordinator for the SDGs in your home state Jalisco. What does that position involve?

My job is to raise awareness about the importance of the SDGs here in Jalisco. I’m like an official advocate for them within the state government.

How do you go about that?

I function as a focal point at ministerial level. Bring in or keep contact with the Federal Government, international actors like UNDP and GIZ, and other parts of the public sphere within Jalisco, but also with the private sector, civil society and the academic community. That means I communicate with many people and representatives – for instance, other parts of the state government, municipal authorities, NGOs and so forth. The goal is always to promote the SDGs and make people more aware of them.

Do you also deal with the implementation of the goals?

In a way, yes. I belong to a unit that is in charge of the strategic governance and development plan of Jalisco. And as a part of this my task is to make sure that the plan is aligned with the SDGs. It’s the most important instrument in terms of planning in our state and runs for six years. The next mid-term revision of this plan is due to take place in 2021, which will give us a great opportunity to see where we stand in terms of the SDGs.

Of the 17 goals, are some more important than others for Mexico and for your state?

All the SDGs are highly significant. In Mexico we observe hunger, poverty, inequality, social injustice, gender inequality, problems of accountability and transparency, to name just a few. I see challenges related to all SDGs. But I would say that Jalisco has been particularly active on the SDG 13 – climate action.

Why. Because you can feel the climate change already?

Exactly. Climate change is already creating all kinds of problems – for example, water scarcity and availability and, as a consequence, limitations in agriculture. Along with the unsustainable use of natural resources, people are moving from the countryside into the city. That’s why we put a lot of effort into mitigating climate change and adapting to its adverse impacts.

What does that mean exactly?

On an institutional level there is an Inter-institutional Commission for Climate Action composed of state and local representatives. The state of Jalisco has taken the lead in this commission where the public sector meets with the private sector, civil society and academia to look for the best ways to mitigate, reduce and adapt to climate change. For instance, we are particularly looking at ways to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and deforestation.

Has the public sector in your state embraced the idea of sustainability or do you still have to convince people?

A little bit of both. I see great motivation and good initiatives. But there are also still people reluctant and skeptical about the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

How difficult will it be for your state to reach the SDGs?

Generally I’m an optimistic person. I believe we as human beings can do many things and achieve a lot. But to be honest we still have quite a way ahead of us. It’s a long-term project. I’ll definitely promote the SDGs patiently and persistently.

Some people say the coronavirus is a real threat for the SDGs. What is your opinion on that?

I agree with those who think there will be setbacks. The pandemic will have a grave negative impact. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are now more relevant than ever. Because they have made it quite clear that we share the same problems and that we can solve them only together. We should regard the coronavirus as an opportunity to come together and find even more creative and innovative ideas to tackle these problems.

How important is sustainable action for you personally? Have you changed your habits?

When I first came to Germany in 2010, I started to follow some good practices and incorporate them into my daily routine: separate waste, take good care of things, re-purpose them, reuse them and recycle in order to curb consumption and thus the use of natural resources. I took those practices back to Mexico, shared them with my family, and have since tried to set an example.

So, was studying in Germany a decisive experience for you?

It was a very enriching experience, indeed, and a turning point in my personal, academic and professional life.

What are your next steps?

I want to push the 2030 Agenda in Jalisco forward and I would like go back to Germany for a Ph.D.

On the SDGs – maybe?

Yes. That’s part of my plan.


Interview: 28 August 2020


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