Interview with Nuria Molina, Former Director of Eurodad

January 31st, 2012

Nura Molina at the Task Force 2011 Conference in Paris, France

After 6 years with the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), first as Policy Officer and then as Director, Nuria Molina left the organisation at the end of January, 2012. We took the opportunity to ask her a couple of questions about life, taxes, working for NGOs and the role of women as makers of change.

TASK FORCE: How did you become involved in non-government organisation (NGO) work?

NURIA MOLINA: I was already involved in student movements and local environmental campaigns as a child growing up in Barcelona. While studying for my Master’s degree at the London School of Economics and at the College of Europe (the college of the European institutions to train future EU staff) my classmates and I were approached by numerous recruiters from Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and international institutions, such as the EU, the World Bank and the IMF. NGOs however never came to recruit – which led me to believe that that this is where my skills would be most needed!

TASK FORCE: What do you like about working for NGOs?

NURIA MOLINA: Having the opportunity to devote your professional life to what you believe in is probably one of the greatest luxuries in a world where we spend a fair amount of our lives at the workplace (if I couldn’t work on human rights issues in a professional capacity, I would have dedicated most of my spare time to it). In addition, working in the NGO sector you are often surrounded by people who hold not only highly ethical beliefs, but who also possess great intellectual curiosity and I really enjoy the interaction. NGO people tend to challenge mainstream economic and political thinking with the goal of making the world a better place for all. I have learned so much from my colleagues and I’ve formed some very wonderful friendships.

TASK FORCE: What do you see as the greatest success at Eurdad during your tenure at the helm?

NURIA MOLINA: Eurodad has always been a pioneering organisation, especially in regards to new thinking and research on economic and financial issues at the heart of structural causes of world poverty, social and economic injustice, and the huge imbalance in wealth redistribution between world countries.

I am particularly proud of three things I was able to accomplish during my time as Director, hand-in-hand with the brilliant Eurodad Team:

  • we exposed how and why most global aid is actually coming back to donor countries – or sometimes never even reaches poor countries in the first place (this was Eurodad’s pioneer work on aid, procurement and domestic investment);
  • we pioneered research and policy development exposing the risks of heavy reliance on the private sector and MNCs for development aid (which has nonetheless become the norm);
  • and last but certainly not least, we played an instrumental role in mobilising a critical mass of Eurodad members and partners on the issues of tax evasion and avoidance by MNCs in poor countries. This can probably be considered the most successful campaign since the Jubilee debt cancellation campaigns of the early 2000s. I believe that Eurodad, together with many others incuding the Task Force, can be proud of this success.

TASK FORCE: Why did you recommend that Eurodad join the Task Force and how have you seen the partnership?

NURIA MOLINA: The Task Force is undoubtedly one of the engines, if not THE driving force, behind the fight against tax evasion and avoidance in developing countries. A good part of success in NGO campaigning is based on credibility, outreach, and – most importantly – effective coalition-building. The Task Force has built an excellent and effective coaliton of NGOs, researchers, economic experts and governments rallying together to finds ways to stem illicit financial flows. For me personally, my involvement in the Task Force has been an amazing opportunity to work with outstanding, knowledgeable and strategic individuals.Their commitment continues to make an enormous difference in how we understand the flaws in the current global financial system and how it exacerbates world poverty and inequality.

TASK FORCE: Has it been difficult to raise awareness of the importance of tax issues in the development community?

NURIA MOLINA: Until a few years ago, the common understanding in the development community, and even public opinion in general, was that illicit financial flows in developing countries were primarily the result of corruption. With outstanding research and outreach, The Task Force has been instrumental in showing that tax evasion and avoidance by MNCs is quantitatively much more significant than corruption-related illicit financial flows. Thanks to the Task Force, Eurodad and several others, this dangerous misconception is finally being corrected and can now be properly addressed.

TASK FORCE: What is it like being a woman at the head of such an important organisation?

NURIA MOLINA: Even though the NGO community has countless talented women among its staff, this is not so much the case when it comes to development finance (I guess at the end of the day, finance – and even development finance – is still a male-dominated sector). It is even less the case when it comes to leadership in development finance NGOs. To be honest, II was not really aware of this until we produced a letter on tax issues addressed to the OECD which was signed by a long list of NGO Directors…. and I saw that I as the only woman on the list! (Later I was the only woman invited to take part in the panels of the ad hoc global crisis committee created by the European Parliament). At the end of the day, I don’t really think gender matters to anyone working on these issue – people respect your credibility and your engagement rather than your gender.

TASK FORCE: Where are you going next?

NURIA MOLINA: I am joining Save the Children UK as Director of Policy and Research, based in London. And I am sure that I will remain connected to the tax movement and hope that you will hear sooner than later from me!

Written by Dietlind Lerner

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