Interview with Monica de Greiff, Executive President of the Bogota Chamber of Commerce, new partner of Efus.
What led the Chamber of Commerce of Bogota (CCB, Colombia) to join the European Forum for Urban Security as a partner?
Monica de Greiff: The Chamber of Commerce of Bogota contributes on a permanent basis to promoting and supporting initiatives for improving the quality of life and competitiveness of Bogota. Since the 1990s, we are very involved in urban security, in particular through our Observatory on Security, which was created 17 years ago.
We have been recognised as a good practice both at the national and international level. Through the CCB, the private sector contributes to gaining knowledge, reducing risks to businesses and strengthening institutions such as the national police.
This said we are aware that in order to develop our proposals and projects, we need the best possible allies. The European Forum for Urban Security, which has a solid reputation worldwide in its field, is one of them. Our alliance with the largest network of local authorities and institutions promoting best practices to understand and prevent violence and crime will be very productive.
What are the main security challenges in Bogota?
All large cities have varied and complex security issues, which are particularly acute in Latin America. We measure constantly the security situation of our city through the Observatory on Security and the bi-annual survey on the feeling of security and victimisation. Data show that the most urgent task at hand is to reduce the level of violence. We have improved our homicide rate, which is now at 17 per 100,000 inhabitants. But we are concerned by the increase in the number of cases over the past two years.
One area of progress concerns the mechanisms of evaluation of public security policies, which are needed to better manage our resources and maximise the impact of the improving rates. Another challenge is to improve service to citizens, in particular access to justice through a better and faster system to file a complaint. It is also important to ensure that the system does not “re-victimise” complainants. Also, the speed and quality of emergency interventions should improve thanks to cutting edge technology.
Furthermore, we need to build the capacities of the police to manage daily life conflicts, which too often end up in violence. Indeed, in 2014 Bogota registered 45,000 violent incidents involving neighbours and residents. This challenge does not concern Bogota only but also the whole country, even though it is engaged in a peace building process.
Lastly, since Bogota is the economic engine of Colombia, it attracts financial crime: money laundering, corruption, extortion. In this respect, we must absolutely strengthen our culture of legality.
In what way can the Chamber of Commerce of Bogota contribute to urban security?
We have been particularly active in promoting public-private cooperation. We have consolidated a model for cooperation based on analytical and assessment tools that enable us to back each of our public policy recommendations with scientific data. Furthermore, we use these tools to predict which initiatives will have more impact.
In other words, the CCB contributed by bringing an independent and evidence-based system for the evaluation of security in the city, in particular through the survey on the feeling of security and victimisation and through our security surveys, which are used to design public policies. We also promote tools specifically designed for businesses that enable them to predict the risk of money laundering and corruption. Lastly, we promote a culture of legality that contributes to the sustainable development of the city and its economy.
Another aspect is that we have established strong, productive relations with the national police. We contribute to building their capacities in terms of services to the public. In addition, we have proposed new initiatives such as introducing police mediation throughout the country, which should improve citizens’ trust and feeling of security.
Lastly, the CCB is engaged in the peace building process in Colombia. We are convinced that businesses must play an important role in supporting reintegration, rebuilding and reconciliation, all of which will of course have a very positive impact on security.
Who are the CCB’s main partners in the area of security?
Our natural partners are business leaders. We also cooperate with the District Administration, the national police, and the public organisms and institutions involved in security and justice (Ministry of Justice, Public Prosecution, Ministry of Defence). We collaborate with these institutions to design policies and programmes related to urban security.
We also have partnerships with the academia, for example the University of the Andes, and with non-governmental organisations such as the Foundation Ideas for Peace (Fundación Ideas para la Paz) and the Foundation Free Country (Fundación País libre).
Lastly, we work with United Nations agencies such as UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) and UNDP (UN Programme for Development).
What can the CCB bring to Efus?
Given that most Efus members are local authorities and civil society organisations, we hope we can bring our vision of the role that the private sector can play in improving urban security, showing also the gains that can be made by building collective initiatives in this field.
In particular, our experience in managing the Observatory on Security could be very interesting for the Forum, as well as our experience regarding the transfer of knowledge linked to the analysis and evaluation of security.
What are the most interesting topics for you?
For us, it is fundamental to improve the competiveness of the city and of its environment. This is the general objective. Now there are a series of themes and cooperation opportunities with Efus, in particular European experiences in prevention technologies; victim support models; programmes for the prevention of violence and conflicts, and mechanisms for evaluating public policies.