In this podcast episode, host and GDL member Khaldun Al Saadi talks to Tamara Gomez Marín, the consul general of Costa Rica in Rome. In her job, she cares for Costa Ricans living in Italy and people who want to come to Costa Rica on the one hand, and diplomatic relations between the two countries on the other. Often, the people Tamara works with struggle with uncertainties. She says, "it is nice to be there for them and support them and help them." But she also finds the bilateral relationship between Italy and Costa Rica very exciting.
Her most important tool for practice is to understand the person sitting across from her, with their needs and realities of life. This is the only way to really solve the problems, especially when the situation is urgent and the person is vulnerable – for example, due to missing documents.
On a diplomatic level, Tamara works mainly on issues that affect both countries, such as climate change or the environment, gender equality, education and safeguarding cultural heritage. She also really likes that Costa Rica and Italy can join efforts to bring their common interests to a multilateral agenda.
One specific project she is currently working on in cooperation with local governments is that of circular cities. The goal is to expand the recycling process to reuse waste from industry, for example. Moreover, she is also working to provide rural women with knowledge about a more efficient agriculture. One advantage of these projects is that the environment and people can be brought together.
The biggest global challenge that Tamara is working to combat, however, isn’t climate change. While this is also very important, she says "But for me, the most important global challenge right now is economic inequality, because it responds to economic models that keep accumulating. That [is] also linked to the decision of some organizations that decide not to support, for example, actions against climate change." The problem for her is primarily that these economic inequalities lead to poverty and hunger, but also to injustices in terms of vaccination against COVID 19. She doesn’t see democracy as beneficial in this specific context, as powerful people tend to blame the minorities for the inequalities, thus fostering dissent. The biggest problem at this point, she says, is that the political elite has other priorities and sees poverty as self-inflicted rather than a systemic failure. For her, therefore, it is central to change the economic models. Only when these inequalities can be compensated for can the focus be on combating climate change. For a solution to the problem, universal income and the distribution of wealth would have to be discussed.
Overall, Tamara's inspiration is to create a community where people aren't selfish, but look out for each other and see the big picture. "Sometimes when you are like losing hope, it inspires me to see that people are still coming together to solve their problems or to talk or to believe in solidarity as a way to move forward and to have a better life for everybody."
New episodes of the podcast are realeased every three weeks. Host Khaldun seeks to get an inside look at the perspectives of young diplomats, experts and activists on the vast array of global challenges we face today by sitting down with them for a virtual cup of coffee.