Culture twinning: a strong network of towns to promote cultural tourism

The project Culture Twinning: Twinning Tourism Promoting Cultural Heritage, which started in 2018, is coming to an end with an upcoming last meeting online to close the project and sum up the results.

The project, funded by Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, is led by the Municipality of Novo Mesto (Slovenia) in partnership with ALDA, the Development Centre of Novo Mesto (Slovenia) and the municipalities of Herceg Novi (Montenegro), Torun (Poland), Vilafranca de Penedés (Spain), Trnava (Slovakia), Langhenagen (Germany), Bühl (Germany), Bihać (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The main objective of this two-year-long project was creation of a strong network of twinned towns to mutually promote cultural tourism and raise awareness among citizens on the importance of cultural heritage. This resulted in the creation of a network of towns that promote cultural heritage in a long-term perspective, and which developed opportunities for mutual understanding, intercultural learning, solidarity and social engagement.

The objective was successfully achieved!

Cultural heritage is more than historical monuments left behind from the past. it defines who we are as individuals, as communities, as regions.

Through project’s activities, partners had the opportunity to meet each other and present their respective towns and their cultural heritage and also to interact with local actors operating in the field.

All events implemented aimed at discovering the rich cultural heritage of each town of the network. In Italy an interactive guided tour for kids took place, in order to stress the importance of educating young generations on local cultural heritage, while in Herceg Novi the international conference “Strategic Tourism Development Based on the Valorization of Cultural Heritage” presented examples of good practice of proper valorisation of cultural heritage in European cities.

In Novo mesto a hackathon was organised where kids presented inspiring examples of good practice of innovative cultural tourism, as well as a visit to the 4th festival of Iron age living and cookery.

Another meeting was in the beautiful and historical city of Trnava, one of the oldest cities in Slovakia, where participants could enjoy the unique medieval atmosphere, culinary specialities and hospitality during the Traditional Trnava Market.

In Vilafranca  exchanged ideas about the methods for creating cultural knowledge, enhancing culture in society and fostering the weight of culture in promoting quality cultural tourism. The participants learnt about the culture of “castellers” through a wide range of activities related to their world.

The sixth and the last meeting of the project, which contributed to the involvement of citizens and awareness of cultural heritage in several European partner cities through education and lifelong learning, took place in Bihać. The urban pulse of the city with an extremely diverse and unique history of different cultures and religions enriches the offer on the river Una.

The event has officially concluded this joint adventure, but the established connections between partners will live on and create common stories backed with richness of natural and cultural heritage. The project has reached an incredible number of citizens, more than 460 direct participants in the events and more than 40.000 indirect participants through the project’s website, partners’ websites, press conferences, news and articles.


Why CUT – Culture Twinning Project? 

Cultural heritage consists of cultural and creative resources with a value for society that has been publicly recognised in order to preserve it for future generations. The rich and diverse cultural heritage of central Europe is one of the key attractions for tourists visiting the area. That is why local heritage has become an important economic factor. Efforts to preserve and utilise cultural heritage can help generate tour¬ism income in particular for remote regions, far from economic centres, rely on tourism-related services for employment. The sustainable use of cultural heritage is essential to ensure that central Europe will remain a popular destination to visit and to live in.
Through the exchange of good practice, experience and expertise of involved partners, we have increased involvement of citizens and raised awareness of the importance of Eu¬rope’s cultural heritage through different events and promotion. Through the activities of the project, we have strengthened the tolerance and mutual understanding between European citizens respecting and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity, while contributing to intercultural dialogue.


Useful links:

Thematic surveys to raise the voice of Civil Society Organisations on the Future of Europe

While the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) is at its peak, the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe is working unceasingly to back the CoFoE to ensure a total and wide inclusion of civil society organisations in such a unique and crucial process.

Indeed, on Tuesday October 12th, a Plenary of the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe took place. After receiving the latest updates by the institutional representatives, the core of the conversation focused on the methods to give voice to Civil Society Organisations from all over Europe and listening to their aspirations and concerns.
Such an ambitious goal will be reached, among others, thanks to the spread of a set of surveys elaborated by each cluster in order to get thematic feedbacks from Civil Society Organisations.

Results are not to be awaited. After a work of research and consultation, the 5 thematic clusters have produced a questionnaire each, as a valuable instrument to boost the dialogue with major stakeholders, encouraging the latter to consider the perceptions and the vision of European citizens.

We invite all Civil Society Organisations’ representatives to join the survey by filling one or more questionnaires, according to your area of competence

Thus, each cluster has produced a coherent and representative sheet to be submitted to key policymakers to ensure that the voice of CSOs is heated and taken into consideration for the elaboration of policies and plans.

Find below the clusters and the link to each survey:

  1. Environment, steered by Green 10: the goal is to face the challenges brought by climate change. Questionnaire coming soon.
  2. Social Europe, chaired by SOLIDAR, aims at outlining the future priorities of the EU. Join the survey and fill in the questionnaire here
  3. Europe’s digital transformation, chaired by ECAS, focuses on setting standards on technology and data’s management, also considering not loosing sovereignty on the topic. Find the survey here
  4. Our European life, chaired by Volonteurope and CEV, focuses on rights, values, new and unexplored challenges such as space and migration. Find their questionnaire here
  5. The Union’s democratic foundations, and how to strengthen democratic processes governing the European Union – To make Europe a citizens’ project, chaired by ALDA and ECOLISE, focuses on boosting citizens engagement, involvement and participation to guarantee a high qualitative social development. Join the survey, choose your language and fill in the questionnaire in English, French or Italian


About the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe (#CSOCoFoE): the role of the Convention is that of working as a bridge between civil society organisations and the institutional setting of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). The Convention has kicked off in February 2021 and is committed to examine the democratic functioning of the Conference and ensure a real involvement of citizens and their representative associations in this process.

It gathers over 75 European networks and platforms, thus reuniting millions of citizens from all across Europe. Its work is managed by a steering committee and 5 thematic clusters, reflecting the political priorities and pillars of the EU.

ALDA, following its vocation and mission, has an active role in the Convention, not only participating as a member, but also as part of the steering committee, represented by ALDA Secretary General, Antonella Valmorbida. Moreover, ALDA is also colliding the cluster on democracy, by making available its expertise on democratic processes, good governance and citizens participation.

Read more on the Civil Society Convention’s website

Edremit: signed the agreement for the Local Democracy Agency

On October 15th 2021, the city of Edremit hosted the opening ceremony of the newly established Local Democracy Agency (LDA).  Bartek Ostrowski – Vice President of ALDA; Antonella Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General; and Giulia Sostero – ALDA Middle East and Africa (MEA) Coordinator, arrived in the Turkish city for the opening ceremony and official beginning, as well as the signature of the “Memorandum of Understanding” among the following founding partners:


  • Edremit Municipality and Edremit City Council (Turkey);
  • ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy;
  • Budva Municipality (Montenegro); 
  • Lushnjë Municipality (Albania) ; 
  • Ahmetbey Municipality (Turkey)  
  • CSOs representatives. 

Participants, gathering both online and offline, were eager to be present in such an historical moment for the development of democracy. Hence, LDAs embody a positive and effective experiment of supporting democracy, by engaging local governments and civil society organizations in Europe and beyond. Thus, as recalled by the Mayor Selman Hasan Arslanthe opening of the LDA in Edremit is the demonstration that what we are doing in the framework of local democracy and citizens’ participation is right and we are following the right path”. 

The activity of ALDA in the MEA region is solid and fruitful, as also testified by the two projects now implemented in Turkey: DEVOTE project and TEAM 4TEAM, tackling migrants’ inclusion and reinforcement of civil society respectively. From a broader perspective, benefitting from citizens’ involvement; capacity building and multi-stake approach, ALDA together with local partners and LDAs is playing a strategic role in the development of local democracy.

LDA Edremit “is a sign of hope in dark times”

Precisely, more than 1 million people benefited from the projects’ implementation in the whole MEA region. Yet, this is not possible without common efforts. Thus, as stressed by Bartek Ostrowski, the relation has to be based on reciprocity, and dialogue, being a “two-way road for mutual benefit”. Based on values, such as common good and good governance the Association is very much committed to have a concrete and tangible impact in local communities; and it is therefore, very much glad for this new achievement.

The opening LDA Edremit “is a sign of hope in dark times” – said Antonella Valmorbida – stressing the essential role of the agency as “an instrument of peace, social cohesion” reinforcing the dialogue among CSOs and local authorities, as well as among partners, citizens and the whole community. More on a broad perspective, LDAs serve, in fact, as a bridge among countries and the European Union, based on a programme set up more than 20 years ago by the Council of Europe.

Specifically on the LDA Edremit, thanks to a participative approach in the decision making process and multilateral decentralised cooperation, it will work on information exchange and empowerment of other CSOs; citizens’ participation and involvement. Furthermore, as illustrated by Giulia Sostero, it will design its actions and activities in tackling several topics and issues, such as: 

  • Cultural heritage and tourism;
  • Relationship between local authorities and citizens stressing the importance of accountability; 
  • Migration; 
  • Gender;
  • Disability

Overall, the opening of this 16th LDA in Edremit paves the way to new horizons, and further steps in the development of democracy. The ceremony ended with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, and it  coincided with the reception by Edremit of the Plaque of Honour, awarded by the Parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

ALDA is very much glad to have promoted such a great achievement, and thank the Municipality of Edremit for its courage and spirit of initiative, as well as all other partners that believe in this new adventure: the journey has just started!



Watch the opening ceremony online at this link

[Picture from Edremit Municipality and ALDA colleagues]

Investigating further collaboration with Solidarité Laïque

Meeting with representatives from Solidarité Laïque took place on October 5th, together with Antonella Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General; Abdelaziz Bouslah – Project Manager from ALDA Tunisia. Auray Aun, Director of alliances and networks at Solidarité Laïque; Ilyes Gaidi, Director Solidarité Laïque Méditerranée and Sirine Khedher, Project Manager at Solidarité Laïque Méditerranée.

Already collaborating within “Municivile -Municivil” project aiming at encouraging and supporting the construction of effective local democracy in Tunisia, the aim of the meeting was to present the projects of the two organisations while considering avenues of further collaboration in Tunisia and in the region.

Avenues of further collaboration in Tunisia and in the region together with Solidarité Laïque

Welcomed in the office of the organisation in Tunis, this fruitful meeting was a good moment to reflect on how to build further initiatives as far as capacity building, decentralisation and encouragement of citizens’ participation in Tunisia concern. 

With great pleasure ALDA met representatives from Solidarité Laïque and it looks forward to further initiatives to implement together.

More on the mission in Tunisia:

In Tunisia to meet colleagues and local representatives

Tunisia welcomed ALDA Secretary General during one of her latest tours in October 2021. Thus, on October 8th, Antonella Valmorbida travelled to Kairouan, meeting Afaf Zaddem, Statutory Member of the Governing Board and Delegate of the Local Democracy Agency (ADL) in the city; together with Monua Alouini, Project Assistant, and Abdealaziz Bouslah, colleague and Project Manager from the Tunis office. With great enthusiasm and joy in seeing each other after a long time, the occasion served as a moment to reflect and analyse the achievements of the LDA and the future steps.

Similarly, ALDA Secretary General took time to talk and discuss with colleagues from the AUTREMENT project, while visiting the office, and sharing with Younes Aggoun, head of the mission, Kenza Yusfi, communication officer, and  Fatma Mnif, logistic and financial officer, on the implementation and progress of the project itself. Focusing on slow mobility in Tunisia, AUTREMENT project launched several initiatives in 2021, such as the bike parade, and this meeting was the perfect opportunity to discuss the project’s future events.

Together in developing democracy in Tunisia, in Europe and beyond

Yet, the day proceeded with lunch with the Municipality of Kairouan. Together with ALDA colleague Abdealaziz Bouslah, Antonella Valmorbida met Radhouen Bouden, President of the Municipal Council of Kairouan. Thus, the city not only is involved in ALDA projects, as the one mentioned before, but it also hosts one of the 16 LDAs. Therefore, it represents a key place in Tunisia, as also discussed among the three.

Last but not least, even though only for few hours, meeting old and new colleagues, representatives of the municipality and LDA gave to ALDA a new-found sense of community and belonging, together in developing democracy in Tunisia, in Europe and beyond

More on the mission in Tunisia:

Time to be Generative! 50xcento training for young leaders

On September 30th the training course for young leaders “50xcento” took place in the home of the Associazione Caracol Olol Jackson in Vicenza, Italy.

The free course was directed at young people who wanted to be “the real engine of Italian development”, who were interested in the growth of the community in which they live and who wanted to become active protagonists of a new life of  society by putting people first.

The main objective of the course was that the young leaders learn the basic values and skills to be truly “generative” and not let the system of instant gratification and consumerism affect their drive to change their environment for the better. It looks like they have!

50xcento to be the real engine of Italian development

More than 20 bright young people gathered in Vicenza, from morning until late afternoon, to reflect and work on the questions and ideas proposed by the coordinator Paolo Pezzanatrainer from Generatività. Participants had also the opportunity to share a meal and enjoy beautiful performances of live music and dance.

During the experience young adults worked together to build a cardboard structure representing what they would like their own city to be like, learning from each other and appreciating the fact that everybody had a unique personal skill set to share in order to make something everybody would be proud of.

After an entire day spent together, caring for and learning from each other, the participants set off to a nearby park to take pictures and share on social media the fruits of their labour, in order to further the scope of the change that, if they so wish, they can begin to achieve.

50Xcento is promoted by ARC, the Research Centre of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, and by the Alliance for Social Generativity, a constantly expanding national project born from a movement developed within ARC, which brings together different organisations, especially enterprises, promoting generative culture in the country. 50xcento is sponsored by Fondazione Cattolica


UNDEF, T4D and ALDA: key training on “Youth empowerment to build local democracy in Tunisia”

On Friday 8th October, following the training session in Sousse, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, took part in the training course with “Tamkeen For development” (T4D). The latter is involved with ALDA, and with the support of the United Nations Democracy Fund – UNDEF, in the implementation of the projectYouth empowerment to build local democracy in Tunisia”.

Analysing especially how to equip young people to be experts and assist local governments, while implementing participatory mechanisms, the project is directed to several municipalities in Tunisia, such as: Béja; Ghardimaou Jendouba; Kairouan; Mahdia; Bardo; Ben Arous and Ezzahra.

UNDEF T4D and ALDA working for youth empowerment in Tunisia

Specifically on the training session, Chekib Besbes (Head of T4D project); Aysha Karafi, (Trainer); Abdelaziz bouslah (ALDA Tunisia) and Antonella Valmorbida (ALDA Secretary General) were part event, whose main topics in agenda were:

  • Conception of ideas;
  • Project assembly;
  • Citizen mobilisation;
  • Advocacy techniques and 
  • Functioning of local authorities.

Overall, participants had the opportunity to interact, and to understand in first person, important aspects to take into account when it comes to youth empowerment. Hence, training sessions play a fundamental role within the project. Already at the beginning of the year a series of workshops were delivered in Tabarka and Hammamet.

Benefitting from the support of UNDEF, and working together with T4D, ALDA is being able to concretely make the difference at local level in several communities in Tunisia. Finally, this visit marked the last stage of the ALDA Secretary General mission in Tunisia.


More on the mission in Tunisia:

City of Sousse: ALDA Secretary General delivered a training with the “Autrement” Project

Sousse, the lovely town on the Mediterranean coast, hosted a training session within theAutrementProject. With great joy and happiness in meeting colleagues and friends, ALDA Secretary General – Antonella Valmorbida got to the city during a warm tunisian day, at the beginning of October 2021.

Targeting “Local and Participatory Democracy and Social Accountability”, Ms. Valmorbida delivered a valuable and interactive training session on October 7th, for the Municipality of Mahdia and the Municipality of Kairouan. Several participants gathered at the conference room in Sousse, where the session was taking place. 

Round tables; a projector and a board were everything needed to start the training with enthusiasm! Gathered around tables, participants joined the morning session, tackling the key aspects and tools when it comes to implementing local democracy. Furthermore, the occasion offered time and space for   questions, dialogue and sharing on crucial issues related to the topic. 

Sousse, the lovely town on the Mediterranean coast, hosted a training session within the “Autrement” Project

In addition, the event was particularly dedicated to council members, technicians and administrators and members of civil society in the two municipalities mentioned above. Together with participants, colleagues from ALDA Tunisia and “Autrement” project took part in the session as well.

Overall, this event has to be understood within a greater context. Hence, Antonella Valmorbida had the occasion to have meetings, moments of sharing and exchange with other key players, committed, as well as ALDA, for the best of local communities in Tunisia. 

After more than a year, the training session in Sousse marked not only an important moment for the implementation of the project, but also an essential occasion to meet old and new staff members, delegates from the ADL and all the friends of ALDA in the amazing country of Tunisia.

More on the mission in Tunisia:

Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

Another important step to foster good governance in Tunisia: cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation

After the successful experience in Moldova and Ukraine, the project to support good local governance and local stakeholders through participative democracy in Tunisia has come to its end.

Empowering local authorities and civil society to deliver solutions with Participative Democracy ” – here it the project’s title – supported by the Tunisian branch of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation officially ended on October 6th, during a final event held in cooperation with the Municipalities of Carthage and La Goulette, also project partners.

“Empowering local authorities and civil society to deliver solutions with Participative Democracy ” supported by the Tunisian branch of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation officially ended on October 6th

Such closing meeting was intended to present, on the one hand, the results of the territorial diagnosis carried out by the Carthage civil society thanks to the competencies acquired during the three training sessions delivered by ALDA.

On the other hand, the final event was the framework of another crucial moment: the signature of the Charter of Committment between the Municipality of Carthage and the Carthaginian civil society. This marks a significant event since the Charter will strengthen the links between the municipality and the civil society, as well as engage the signatories in a deeper collaboration within the framework of the territorial diagnosis work which must be the main object of the Municipality’s annual investment plan.

More on the mission in Tunisia:

"SMART" and the enhancement of small local museums

The Alpine territory is rich in small thematic museums that are often not included in tourist itineraries: the main objective of the Interreg Italy-Austria SMART project is precisely to preserve the heritage of the historical and cultural identities of local communities and to offer tourists new opportunities to discover and experience the Alpine area.

Here are the three pilot sites involved in the project:

  • the Textile Machinery Museum in the Municipality of Valdagno (Veneto)
  • the Val Resia Ecomuseum in the Municipality of Resia (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
  • the Ritzen Castle Museum in the Municipality of Saalfelden (Austria).

These will soon be joined by the Typewriter Museum, located in the Municipality of Parcines (Bolzano – Alto Adige) and will be integrated into the innovative museum circuit.


SMART – Small Museums Alliance Representing Territories project aims to increase the attractiveness and accessibility of small museums in 3 pilot sites in the Alpine area, through innovative instruments and the involvement of local communities. Visit the official website and discover more: