SDG16+ CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE
Champions of Change is an initiative started by the Pathfinders to highlight advocates who have made an impact in their communities and have helped to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16+). It provides an opportunity to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. As part of the Movement to Halve Violence by 2030, hear from Champions who have made building peaceful societies their cause and mission in life, and learn what you can do to join them!
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.*
Mayor Flores holds a degree in Legal Sciences from the Universidad Regiomontana and a Master’s degree in Administrative Law from the University of Zaragoza in Spain. During her tenure as a politician, she suffered up to 11 attacks. Mayor Flores was one of the first female mayors re-elected to be in Mexico. She has been elected three times as Municipal President of General Escobedo, Nuevo León. During her tenure, the National Municipal Public Security Conference (Conferencia Nacional de Seguridad Pública Municipal) selected the “Escobedo Security Model” for implementation throughout Mexico as the preeminent strategy to prevent and reduce violence.
The city of Escobedo is also a member of the Peace in Our Cities network, which seeks to galvanize a movement of people, mayors, and city governments to halve urban violence by 2030.
We spoke with Mayor Flores to learn more about her work and what drives her:
What ignited your pursuit of safe and peaceful societies?
The inspiration in my work is to transform my community and leave a better world for our children; children are my ultimate motivation and inspiration.
This inspiration has led the municipal government of Escobedo to work with families, providing them with tools and opportunities for change and thus planting the seed to transform our communities.
To achieve a peaceful, just, and inclusive world, what does success look like to you? And what are the critical factors in achieving this vision?
In the municipal government of Escobedo, we have found that four key strategies have helped us to make strides towards a peaceful, just, and inclusive world:
- Identify the causes of the problems our communities face and firmly root our approach within the current context to generate a vision for the future based on data.
- Promote creativity and innovation as critical tools for our communities’ transformation, development, and growth.
- Generate a legal framework that allows us to cooperate and establish defined, measurable, and sustainable objectives to make social actions solid and permanent.
- Work in a very organized and strategic way, with platforms that influence the building and strengthening of peace, investing in infrastructure, equipment, and training required to meet our people’s needs.
With these key approaches — attending to citizens’ concerns and giving them comprehensive solutions that eradicate their problems — we’re promoting a social fabric imbued with conscience and consistency.
I believe that the key to achieving this vision is for political leaders to have an attitude of service and political will.
How does your work significantly reduce and prevent violence?
It has been my work to plan and execute strategies and programs that improve the quality of life for my city’s people, and to promote an environment of peace driven by citizens’ participation and by all of the organizations inside and outside the municipality that add value to our community.
For the Government of Escobedo, the Sustainable Development Goals are key to designing strategies and programs.
More than a decade ago, the Escobedo Government took measures to address insecurity by adopting the goal of reducing the number of people involved in criminal activities. By working collaboratively with citizens and institutions, the Escobedo municipal government has promoted respect for and recognition of human rights, changing minds, and creating synergies that enrich the community.
The philosophy we apply to our work, while using the SDGs as a key framework to define programs and strategies, has allowed the municipality to be a pioneer in applying strategies such as the Comprehensive Security System for Citizens, the Violet Door, the Life-Saving Watches, amongst other programs.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work? Are there any lessons learned from the pandemic that you hope to apply in future work?
This pandemic has undoubtedly marked a distinct ‘before’ and ‘after’ for our city. The situation forced us to adapt our work plans — reorienting and maximizing resources to attend to the emergency, while not neglecting essential services. We further reinvented ourselves and discovered new opportunities, such as using the municipal government to drive progress and adopt successful international models, such as sanitizing tunnels, rolling out Life Saving Watches and nanotech face masks, and transitioning certain services to digital platforms.
Furthermore, we have also promoted public policies that promote tranquility, sensitivity, and harmony within families. By promoting games and interactive activities that facilitate learning social and emotional skills, we encourage people to generate peace, not only in their home, but also in their community. These months of work have challenged us to enhance our focus on prevention in the short-, medium-, and long-term.
Although it has been a difficult journey, it has also been an opportunity to improve our human condition. Since the pandemic began, every day has been a day of learning, no matter how bad things seem, which spurs us to be creative and transformative; constantly innovating.
The uncertainty of the current situation has taught me to face adversity from a different and more empathetic perspective. I have learned that there are situations that cannot wait and that one’s actions are more impactful on citizens than one would believe. Examples of this include the experience of transferring government processes to digital platforms, facilitating community access to technology, and being sensitive to certain groups’ conditions, among others.
What advice do you have for those seeking to make a difference for a more peaceful world?
To be sensitive to changes, to be empathetic to peoples’ potential vulnerability, to seek solutions, and to be close to the public.
That people not only maintain their intention, but act and apply their best effort to each of their actions. That is to say, that they enact their vision of change to achieve a peaceful world.