Thank you for making ALDA General Assembly a real success!
Over 170 participants from the enlarged Europe attended the General Assembly 2017 of ALDA and its related events, hosted by the region Kujawsko-Pomorskie (Poland) in Toruń on 12 May. The region is indeed in the frontline for the promotion of local democracy and citizen participation, is active member of ALDA, and supports the Local Democracy Agency Georgia.
"The event is among the top biggest in the history of Toruń", said the Marshal of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Piotr Całbecki during the initial press conference on 10 May, and he added "In these challenging times for Europe, the cooperation between ALDA and local and regional authorities is key to foster good local governance and citizens' participation".
Kujawsko-Pomorskie Vice Marshal Sławomir Kopyść opened the Assembly by welcoming the participants, highlighting the commitment of the region in international cooperation and decentralisation, as well as its strong cooperation with regions all over Europe and beyond. The President of ALDA, Oriano Otočan, thanked the region for the warm welcome, stressing how important it is to capitalize on the experience of Poland, a country leading in the path towards decentralisation. Because of its best practice empowering local and regional authorities, it is not a coincidence that Poland during the last programming period was incredibly successful in attracting EU structural funds. It is crucial to share this results in other countries where ALDA operates, where local and regional governments do not have enough decision-making power.
The Assembly was chaired by Sylwia Tubielewicz-Olejnik, Director of the Department of International Relations of the hosting region. During the Assembly, the budget and the programme of activities of the Association were approved. Furthermore, the political document "ALDA addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow - Local democracy and citizens' participation at the core of the European project" was adopted, which calls European institutions to change EU policies in order to increase their outreach towards citizens, local governments and civil society, in order to address the distrust between European citizens and institutions, thus reinvigorating our common project.
This year, the scholarship in memory of ALDA Honorary President Gianfranco Martini is awarded to Mr. Klodjan Sefaraj, from the University of Tirana, Albania, for his work on Local Democracy in Albania, titled “Albania stands at a crossroads regarding its local democracy”.
The event was also the occasion to welcome new members of ALDA, over 60 since last General Assembly. Diplomas of membership by ALDA, for civil society organizations, and by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, for local and regional governments, were awarded to those attending.
Before the Assembly, the Governing Board of ALDA met at the premises of the region; ALDA’s Vice President and Board member Imislawa Gorska, Principal of the International School of Bydgoszcz, less than 50 km from Toruń, was present and instrumental to the success of all events.
The three days were intense, but the programme did not only include conferences and hard work: the participants had the chance to discover Toruń with a guided tour, to learn how to make gingerbread during the cultural night, as well as to mingle and dance like local students during the concert.
What else to say, if not the slogan of the region: Kujawsko-Pomorskie - it’s great to be here!