Interview with Juan Ignacio Lorente Gonzalez

Director in Spain of Diplomatic Council

Juan Ignacio Lorente Gonzalez

Director in Spain of Diplomatic Council

Dear Mr. Lorente, who is the Diplomatic Council, what is it and what are its objectives? 

The Diplomatic Council of the United Nations is an international organisation dedicated to strengthening relations between the diplomatic world, business and society as a whole, and whose entity is made up of some eight thousand members around the world, including ambassadors and senior diplomats, managers of multinationals and thought leaders, giving both entities a global reach, having as one of its fundamental pillars, the implementation of institutional and charitable activities, in close collaboration with the declarations of various bodies imbued in the United Nations. 

You have spoken in various circles about the Diplomatic Council as a Think Tank and the objective of building bridges between diplomacy, the economy and society. What does it consist of?

? As I have described before, the Diplomatic Council is a group of personalities from the diplomatic sphere who try to form links within their country of mission, in order to solve the great challenges faced by each society. With this concept, we implemented connection platforms under SDG 17 of the 2030 Agenda to bring together the institutional sector, the private sector and the third sector under the supervision of the diplomatic sphere in order to find solutions to the various issues raised. One of the elements of its code of conduct is respect for human rights.

How does the Diplomatic Council achieve this objective? 

The Diplomatic Council has consultative power with the United Nations. This is the highest 'status' that can be attributed to an association. To be honoured with these powers, the United Nations ensures that the organisation has as its purpose, the same objectives as itself, and that all its operations and partnerships are carried out for the betterment of society. Therefore, respect for human rights is ingrained in every article of our Statutes, projects and partnerships. At this time, the main purpose of the United Nations is the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, whose goals are set to ensure that human rights are respected to the fullest extent.

Who are its members, who chairs it, and where is it based?

 The founders of the Diplomatic Council are H.E. Buddhi Athauda, Andreas Dripke and Thi Thai Hang Nguyen, but the organisation is mainly chaired by Mr Dripke. The Council's headquarters are in the city of Wiesbaden in Germany, but it was founded in The Hague, the Netherlands.

What are its main lines of work?

The main lines of work established in the pillar of the Diplomatic Council are perfectly delimited in three fields of action. On the one hand, we are the most influential Global Think Tank of the United Nations. On the other hand, we develop a Business Network at a very high level, as our influencing activities are organised in all the main sectors and are divided into forums, programmes, initiatives and sectoral missions, all of them framed within the activities of the embassies themselves, and finally a Charity Foundation, which we implement to all our projects, a charitable nuance to obtain measures of corporate social responsibility. 

You are a consultative member of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, what does this distinction mean? 

The consultative status gives NGOs access not only to ECOSOC, but also to its numerous subsidiary bodies and agencies, to the various UN human rights mechanisms, as well as to special events organised by the President of the General Assembly.

How long have you been a member and how did you and who led the process of accession to ECOSOC?

The inclusion of the Diplomatic Council as a member of the United Nations is outlined in Article 71 of the UN Charter, as a result of the 2015 Session of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs (E / C.2 / 2015 / R.2 Add.26 / 4) of 26.5.2015. 

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has thus included the DIPLOMATIC COUNCIL in its circle of accredited non-governmental organisations, and as such enjoys consultative status within ECOSOC. Obviously, the founding body of the organisation was responsible for this project.

How long have you been a member and how did you and who led the UNITAR membership process? 

We are currently applying to UNITAR to become one of their 'Implementing Partners'. This means that when they issue their next project funding announcement, we will be considered as a potential grant recipient.

How long have you been a member and how did you and who led the UNDP membership process? 

We are currently registered with the UNDP Philanthrophy Platform, which has been set up to promote compliance with the SDGs, and is partnering with foundations and collaborating with other like-minded organisations to align its work with the UN Framework for Immediate Socio-Economic Response to Crisis of COVID- 19.

Where in the world are you currently operating? 

The Diplomatic Council currently operates in Europe, Asia and the Arab countries and the USA with a view to expanding into other territories. 

Who can join in each country, career diplomats or government appointees? 

Both have the possibility to join the Council, but it is not a prerequisite to be a diplomat. What is merely necessary is to demonstrate many years of experience and dedication to causes that identify with, or are aligned with, various UN agencies or programmes.

As director in Spain, what are the objectives that you develop in Spain? 

For operations originating in Spain, I have founded an underlying organisation to the Diplomatic Council, called the Diplomatic Coalition. This organisation allows us to have more direct control over the projects and initiatives we develop, while maintaining the working mechanism of the Diplomatic Council. 

In the Diplomatic Coalition, we focus on engaging the diplomatic world, acting as an external layer of embassies, and the Third Sector, to provide humanitarian aid in different countries. In addition to this, we have developed 'Diplomatic Tourism Promotion' and 'Diplomatic Business Promotion' to help different countries to improve the country brand of their respective countries of origin, in Spain and Europe. 

From a country like Spain, what is your relationship with the president and board of the Diplomatic Council?

We are part of the same team and we have an extremely close and direct communication, as we work towards the same goals.

How would you define your relationship with the World Tourism Organisation, and specifically with the Secretary General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvil? 

We are currently working closely together to standardise processes to improve country branding within the programme we have established, which I mentioned earlier, the Diplomatic Tourism Promotion. 

And with Mr António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations?

The United Nations is a very large organisation, so we do not all know each other, and in this case I am not fortunate enough to have worked personally with Mr Guterres. However, we have met at various events.

Do you think that the heads of tourism in diplomatic delegations act differently from other international diplomats?  

Many times in the diplomatic environment, they follow the specific criteria set by the guidelines established by the delegation's country of origin, so they set local criteria and not global criteria. 

What do you think will be the global trend in tourism behaviour? 

We are in a complex process in which the coming years will undoubtedly see a new configuration of new powers in the world of tourism. For example, rural tourism is starting to become more important. This phenomenon pushes tourism towards sustainability, which is fundamental in the world we live in and I hope it will continue to grow over the next few years. Teleworking is also important for the new "Nomads" of teleworking, as it combines not only the possibility to develop remote working activities, but also to mix with tourism in a new way.

Thank you and best regards from the members of the Tourism and Society Think Tank.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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