The Economy of Francesco

young people, a pact, the future

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young people, a pact, the future

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September 22-24 2022, - Assisi

September 22-24 2022, Assisi

"The Economy of Francesco"

young people, a pact, the future

Breaking news:

published today the letter with which Pope Francis summons young economists and entrepreneurs to Assisi to propose a pact for a new economy. Economy of Communion participates in the organizing committee of the event together with the Diocese and the Municipality of Assisi and the Seraphic Institute.


#EoF - Social impact measured in Latin America

#EoF: the Stories - Colombian economist José Oscar works on econometric models capable of orienting investments: from combating cocaine production to producing solar energy in the favelas

by Paola Dal Vecchio

published in Avvenire on 3/01/2022

When I first read the Pope's letter for the Economy of Francesco (EoF) I felt personally challenged. He said: you economists are responsible for structural changes to ensure that no one is left behind. So that those who seem to be condemned to exclusion shall become the engine for solving problems and getting out of them, in a world where inequalities continue to increase.José Oscar Henao Monje, a Colombian economist with a master's degree and doctoral thesis (in progress) in Argentina, joined EoF's Latin American community as a principal researcher of the International Programme of Democracy, Society and New Economies (Pidesone) at the University of Buenos Aires.

With director Cristina Calvo,” he recalls, “we have been working for the last seven years on strengthening civil society organisations both as a contribution to sustainable development goals and as instruments for decision-making. By analysing, for example, the social returns of investments, to ensure efficient use of scarce resources, and ensuring results that generate greater benefits for families, individuals or communities in vulnerable conditions”. For José Oscar, joining the Economy of Francesco was “the opportunity to realise a dream that I had been cultivating since my childhood,” which had grown out of his concerns for those who “suffered a great deal” from inequity. “I seized the opportunity," he reflects, “and I feel a co-responsibility to help others.” He does this also thanks to his academic experience at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, which is “oriented,” he explains, “towards the use of econometric methods, instruments applied to the labour market, to inequalities, to contribute to the drawing up of public, social and community policies that reduce the existing gaps”.

Currently, he participates in EoF projects in Colombia and Argentina and is a member of the Academic Commission of the Latin American network, which, together with the major university institutions, organised, among other things, the first congress on the ethical challenges for a solidarity-based economy of social development in the region. Together with Caritas Colombia, the economist promoted the methodological and territorial implementation for the analysis of governance and common resources in the Catatumbo region, in the north of Colombia on the border with Venezuela. “It is an area of armed conflict, illegal trafficking and cocaine production. The aim was to activate citizen participation so that they could promote their own community projects, such as opening roads to market their agricultural products or improving water sources.”

In Brazil, José Oscar is involved with two research groups. “One involves two researchers in Sao Paulo, working to bring solar energy technology to the favelas where electricity, supplied by the private sector is inaccessible due to high costs, and often stolen with illegal connections and adverse effects, often fatal”. Taking part in the formulation process, he explains, there is “a second group from EoF's Energy and Poverty Village, with Argentinean economist Cristian Varela, aiming to replicate the experience in Amazonia where it is located”. As head of the Sustainable Development Observatory of the Latin America and Caribbean Caritas Secretariat, the economist has also designed “a statistically very robust methodology to ascertain how national Caritas agencies contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals”. He expects to finalise an interim report in June and the final report in December 2022. “We are using two very powerful data analysis softwares,” summarises José Oscar. “One allows us to generate dashboards of results to connect them in the network, so that anyone can enter the Caritas web page and see how, for example, Caritas Peru contributes to the sustainable development goals or how the regional groups are advancing with respect to the poverty or zero hunger goals. And we are in dialogue with the international Caritas to apply the methodology globally.

In fact, the young new father of a 9-month-old baby boy confesses that his passion to put his talents in the field of econometrics into practice stems from the excitement of being able to count things and design tools to measure them. “During the pandemic, I wrote a paper that I would like to publish on a methodology that measures interfaith good practices for sustainable development in a multidimensional way,” he says. To this end, he has designed a multidimensional indicator that is currently being applied “by 23 faith-based associations, including the Ecumenical Regional Centre for Counselling and Services (CREAS) in Argentina, the Methodist Church of Bolivia, Caritas Uruguay, the Suma Fraternidad focolare movement in Argentina and the Brazil group.” As if that were not enough, José Oscar is currently completing his doctoral thesis. The topic? The impact of the peace process of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - the tr.) on multidimensional poverty in Colombia. “My hypothesis,” he explains, “is that it is possible to explain to those who doubt peace that one of the main variables for reducing rural poverty is the de-escalation of the conflict”.



Language: ENGLISH

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