Achieving social and cultural goals and maintaining them at their height over years requires more than human effort, funding or technological infrastructures; it requires having a very specific vision of your business. Our vision of Telefónica is one of a company that contributes to social progress and personal development in the countries where it operates.
Fundación Telefónica has been working in the heart of society for twelve years, providing access to knowledge through our social and educational programs for children, our corporate volunteers program, the debate and knowledge platforms and the art and technology agenda. Indeed, our original goal –which continues today– was to cover all the areas of society where our expertise, experience and technology could make a difference, where we could add value by applying technologies that Telefónica pioneered.
Moreover, we believe that at the same time that Telefónica provides the world with communications services, our philosophy as a multinational company should focus on the social needs in each country where we have a presence. Through our foundation, headquartered in Spain, we have created other foundations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and finally, Ecuador. However, our community welfare work is not limited to these countries; rather, it extends into another five: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay. This contribution is made possible by Fundación Telefónica’s social programs for children and its corporate volunteers. Telefónica’s subsidiaries in other countries are also involved in this effort, specifically in Germany, Slovakia, Britain, and the Czech Republic.
Even amidst a difficult economic situation, as that of the past year (2009), Telefónica has managed to uphold its social commitments, and we are extremely proud of this. Indeed, the physical and social needs of individuals do not flow from macroeconomic figures, but from the day-to-day struggles of living in a changing society, one which requires constant adaptation. We owe these individuals our assistance. By providing them with the cultural, educational and technological tools to better adapt to these changes, we strengthen the local organizational capacity of each region. Thus, we are closer to realizing our common goal -that each country can continue on the path of development in a globalized world where social inequality often persists.
In line with these goals, Fundación Telefónica has allocated more than 71 million Euros to its community welfare and cultural programs. This has resulted in 5,591 different initiatives and activities offered to the public. Of these, many were carried out jointly with one of the 850 reputable and prestigious collaborating institutions and organizations (both public and private) from educational, social and cultural sectors. More than 56 million people have been directly benefitted by this work.
In 2009 the EducaRed program held its 5th Annual International EducRed Congress and introduced its new global portal. This event reconfirmed EducaRed as the single most important debate engine in Latin America with regard to educational use of ICT. More than 14,270 people from 40 countries registered and participated in the congress online, with 2,170 of these also attending a different phase of the event in person. In the area of social development for children, by the end of 2009 the Proniño program had removed 163,900 Latin American children and adolescents from child labor and returned them to school. This represents a 52% increase over the previous year, and more than double of that predicted. We also installed 275 new Fundación Telefónica Classrooms, whose training benefits both the youngsters enrolled in these schools as well as another 144,760 students. As for Telefónica Volunteers 2009 –which had 25,453 employees registered in 14 different countries–, this effort increased by 17% due to the incorporation of Telefónica Europe. Telefónica volunteers worked in 864 different projects, helping close to 386,000 people. Deservedly, last year Telefónica headed the list of the top ten companies for Corporate Volunteerism, according to the 2009 Report on Corporate Volunteerism in Spain (published by the Observatory for Corporate Volunteer Work). We feel especially proud of this distinction.
With regard to areas of culture, knowledge and art, the past year was especially fruitful. The Debate and Knowledge program brought together high-profile international experts (Soumitra Dutta, Martin Cooper, Albert-László Barabasi, David Weinberger and Clay Shirky, among others) to speak about concepts that are changing the world: the future of mobile technologies, the political impact of social networks in the recent U.S. elections, the value of diversity as a source of richness, and the new business models created by ICT. In addition, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our journal TELOS Communications and Innovation, a leading periodical born as a research platform for social communication and technology. Telos has now become an essential reference on any topic related to the Information Society published in the Spanish language. Lastly, the Art and Technology program recorded 605,793 visitors to the 27 exhibitions, and art shows it hosted (some in collaboration with other cultural institutions). This program also sponsored the 12th Annual International Competition for Art and Artificial Life (VIDA), whose purpose is to stimulate artistic creation based on new technologies and artificial life.
We are proud of our achievements, yet we know that we must continue to improve in the future. A company such as Telefónica must apply its business experience, its teams and its technology to managing an innovative and broad-minded foundation with increasing social impact. This is our daily mission, which the 2009 Annual Report attempts to reflect.
César Alierta Izuel
Chairman of Fundación Telefónica