43 Congress Session and the election of the new Secretary General

On Tuesday 25 October 2022, during the 43 Congress Session, the representatives of the delegations of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe elected Mathieu Mori as the new Secretary General of the Congress. The latter, as expressed during his campaign, believes that “the Congress must meet the ever-greater need for democracy. Our local and regional authorities are the beating hearts of our democracies, working the most closely with our citizens”

Now, Mori’s position is one of great responsibility at the institutional level, aiming to strengthen democracy in the 46 member states through dialogue between regional authorities and national governments, in consultation with the Council’s ‘Council of Ministers’.


Yet, what is the Congress and what is its mission?

Established in the mid-fifties of the XX century, the 1957 marked the year of the first session of the Conference of Local Authorities in Europe, which then became, in 1983, the “Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe” (CLRAE). Aiming at further foster the role of Local realities and institutions, two years later, in 1985 the CLRAE adopted the “European Charter of Local Self-Government”. 

Only in 1994 the Congress adopted its actual name, thus gaining new responsibility, among which the monitoring of local and regional self-government; and the engagement in peace-restoration initiatives in the former Yugoslavia by setting up “Local Democracy Agencies”. The latter are at the centre of ALDA as well, being locally-based organisations, and promoting initiatives through an innovative method of multilateral decentralised cooperation.

ALDA colleagues are very proud of Valmorbida’s achievements; always committed to place the value of local democracy at the heart of her mission. The Association wishes the best of luck to the just appointed Secretary General of the Congress

As briefly mentioned above, since the very beginning, ALDA has had a strong bond with the Council of Europe, working hand in hand with the institution, while serving as a bridge with local communities. Therefore, Ms. Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General – decided to further commit herself to the cause, by also running for the position of Secretary General of the Congress.

“I strongly believe in our cause, as the local and regional level are the physical and social places where democracy is built” explains Valmorbida – “development and inclusive societies. They are the basis on which everything else in governance is built.”

ALDA colleagues are very proud of Valmorbida’s achievements; always committed to place the value of local democracy at the heart of her mission. The Association also wishes the best of luck to the just appointed Secretary General, assuring the collaboration for a more inclusive, equal and democratic society.

Fourth Transnational Meeting of the SMELT project: together to help marginalised people to enter the labour market

On 17&18 October 2022, the partners of the SMELT project – Skilling Marginalised people to Enter the Labour markeT, gathered together in Gijon (Spain) for their fourth Transnational Meeting.

The meeting started highlighting the achievements of the projects and the results obtained so far. The SMELT project aims at facing the paradox of business sectors experiencing workforce shortage and the high number of vulnerable people unemployed, by supporting marginalised people in acquiring and developing key competencies strategical for the labour market.

Currently, the project partners are implementing the Intellectual Output 3, which consists in the creation of an innovative output ITEM that will aim at ameliorating the life of people that are in a difficult situation as they are homeless or live in precarious conditions.

SMELT partners in Gijon to support marginalised people and help them enter the labour market

The Intellectual Output 3 is strictly connected with the Intellectual Output 2, which just ended. IO2 was conceived for vulnerable people living in partners’ communities and aimed at increasing job opportunities and specific skills. Called “VET for all – training new welder workers”, during IO2 the participants familiarised in depth with the particularities of the welding sector, and they have been introduced to the requirements and elements for becoming employed in construction/welding industry. 

During the next few months, the participants to the training course (IO2), will work together with the employees of the partner companies to create objects necessary for the daily life of people who find themselves living in this uncomfortable condition. 

With less than three months missing until the end of the project, the Transnational Meeting finished with a discussion on how to keep the project alive beyond its official deadline. The beautiful landscapes of Gijon served as a framework both to discuss the project itself and to get acquainted with the multicolored Asturian culture.

… Another great moment of implementation for the SMELT project partners!


Strategies for the final Phase with the partners and network: PIECE last Transnational Project Meeting

Meeting the Partners and developing the network

After two years of online work, the partners of PIECE – Participation Inclusion and Engagement of Communities in Europe – had the opportunity to come together for the last Transnational Project Meeting, which took place on 16 September in Seville. The meeting was impeccably organised and managed by the Spanish partner, Acoge.

The event was dedicated to the project management meeting, where the partners discussed the development of the project’s activities and results, exchanging views on the situation in their respective home countries and talking together about the finalisation of intellectual outputs.

Specifically, dissemination and communication issues were addressed. ALDA and the other partners created a plan for more efficient and effective dissemination of project outputs and management of the Facebook page.

The creation of a network of projects focused on the creation of educational and training material

The involvement of external actors, through communication activities and events, will allow a wider reach and transfer of project products and results. The creation of a network of projects focused on the creation of educational and training material is a desired goal.

During the event, there were also discussions on the progress of evaluation and monitoring activities and the finalisation of all planned outputs. The products will be finalised and available on the project website by the end of October.

An interactive webinar for the presentation of the outputs and necessary to explain the functionality and methodology of the digital educational platform created, scheduled for the first week of November. During the same period, multiplier events, open to the public, will be organised by the project partners in Italy, Greece and Great Britain to promote the project. 

Given the proximity to the end of the project, the partners concluded the event by reaffirming their full commitment to the finalisation and promotion of all activities carried out and for future collaborations.


Grey4Green kick-off in Reykjavik: challenges and opportunities of the phenomenon of ageing population


On 5 and 6 October 2022, 6 partners from 5 different countries met in Reykjavik (IS) for the official launch of the new Erasmus + Grey4Green project.

During these days of intensive work in Reykjavik, at the headquarters of the Icelandic Environment Agency (project partner), the partners discussed future steps to be taken and exchanged ideas and visions for the project.

Indeed, the ageing of the population is a worldwide phenomenon with critical implications for all sectors of society. Due to low birth rates, high life expectancy and migration flow dynamics, the worldwide population is “turning grey”, and Europe is not an exception. An ageing population brings social, health, economic, and other issues.

The Grey4Green project, in which ALDA is a partner, is determined to support excellence in research on climate science and climate policy. responds to the urgency of developing competencies in various sustainability-relevant sectors, developing green and sectorial (3rd age) skills strategies and methodologies, as well as future-oriented training schemes that meet the needs of individuals and organisations. ALDA will also test innovative practices to prepare seniors and 3rd age personnel to become true agents of change. 

In Reykjavik to support excellence in research on climate science and climate policy

More specifically, ALDA will be responsible for developing an effective dissemination plan and the project exploitation and valorisation strategy. Furthermore, it will organise a seminar on Active Ageing and Nature Conservation and develop a policy paper on unravelling the potential of active ageing for nature conservation.

Overall, these two days in Reykjavik have proven to be a successful beginning, and a good synergy was born, paving the way for the next 2 years of the project.

It will be an intense and exciting path and the partners are ready to give their all for the cause: with a little grey, everybody could have a lot more green: let the journey begin!



Grey4Green Erasmus + project includes the following partners: FO-Aarhus (Denmark) as leader, and in collaboration with ALDA (France), CARDET (Cyprus), Environmental Agency of Iceland (Iceland), Municipio de Lousada (Portugal), Associação BioLiving (Portugal)


Bravo Bravissimo final event: Rossini’s art and music as a way to engage citizens


Rossini’s music and art at the core of “Bravo Bravissimo”

Lights, instruments, sheets music and notes flooded all over the “Auditorium Concordia”, located in the city of Pordenone (Italy) in the warm evening of 14 October 2022 to welcome the final event of Bravo Bravissimo project.

Guided by the artistic spirit of Rossini, among the greatest composers and exponents of European musical culture in the XIX century, born in Pesaro in 1792 and the father of “The Barber of Seville” and “William Tell”, the performance harmoniously blended together theatre and music.

Successes, torments, loves and passions of Rossini, as well as his being a cooking enthusiast and a ‘bon vivant’, have been translated into a delicate and – at the same time passionate – piece by Beatrice Raccanello, a Venetian director, trained at the Scuola de l’Avogaria; and directed by the Giulio Arnofi, a conductor from Ferrara with studies in Bologna and Milan, among the emerging names of the new generation.

“The texts of the performance, written specifically for this project, are deliberately concise and incisive” – explained Raccanello –  “the short scenes that dialogue and interpolate with the music and voices are intended to highlight the more human aspect of Rossini, with his vices and passions, his sympathy and his mood swings”.

Rossini: one of the greatest talents of European musical culture

A group of 24 young European musicians united in the name of Rossini’s art and culture, together with the singers Inês Pinto, a Portuguese soprano, Martina Koljenšić, a Montenegrin contralto, and the Italians Alessandro Cortello (tenor), and Francesco Basso (bass) led the spectators into the enchanted word of the composer. The latter and his muse were masterfully played by Francesco Severgnini and Elisabetta Da Rold respectively. Everything was further enriched by the participation of elements of the San Marco Orchestra, the San Marco Choir and the Tomat Choir from Spilimbergo.

The performance, which also marked the final event of the project, was a great success and greeted with a long applause by adults, children, teenagers coming from all over the city to enjoy Rossini!



The Creative Europe funded project “Bravo Bravissimo” is coordinated by Associazione Musicale Orchestra e Coro San Marco as leader, together with its partners: the ALDA Association (France), the City of Lousada (Portugal), the Nikola Djurkovic Cultural Centre of Kotor (Montenegro), and the Topos Allou-Aeroplio Theatre of Athens (Greece).


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ALDA at the 2022 Edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities

The European Week of Regions and Cities 2022 is the biggest annual event in Brussels, dedicated to cohesion policy bringing together regions and cities from all over Europe, including politicians, administrators, experts and academics. 

Over the last 19 years, it has done much to promote policy learning and the exchange of good practice.

The edition of this year focused on EU response to the post Covid-19 pandemic health, social and economic challenges; not to mention territorial cohesion policy, a digital, green and sustainable transition, and youth empowerment. 

The event lasted 4 days with 300 sessions, both online and offline, with more than 15 000 registered participants, and different speakers and experts.  

"Youth expressed the environmental consciousness", Ms. Valmorbida at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2022

ALDA took part in the Workshop titled “Together empowering Youth for climate action” on the 12 October 2022, with an intervention by ALDA Secretary General, Ms. Antonella Valmorbida. She gave an insight on ALDA’s history and work, and stressed the strong liaison between youth and environmental issues. 

The session was held online and moderated by Davide Sabbadin, from the European Environmental Bureau, with insightful contributions from Monika Skadborg, from the European Youth Forum, Eline Van Der Ham, representing the City of Almere, and Monika Chabior, from the city of Gdansk.


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Kick off! "EU4Accountability" to improve social accountability in the Republic of Moldova

EU4Accountability will support civil society organisations in 10 districts from Republic of Moldova to influence local authorities through active participation in decision-making to better meets people’s needs.  60 NGOs will learn how to get involved in local budgeting and policy-making, which will then help to better reflect the needs of local communities and increase social accountability.

Civil society organisations from Cahul, Cimislia, Comrat, Falesti, Floresti, Glodeni, Rascani, Straseni, Stefan Voda and Telenesti districts, selected through an open call for participation, will be involved in a broader capacity building programme. This will enable them to learn how to:

  • implement their own public policy monitoring project,
  • strengthen mechanisms for social accountability and promotion of best practices,
  • facilitate peer learning,
  • exchange of experience and networking among local CSOs.

“Today we launch the new EU4Accountability action in 10 districts across the Republic of Moldova. The European Union is investing 1.5 million euro to strengthen social accountability of the local and central government in Moldova through targeted support to the civil society. This project will offer grants to civil society organisations to support their participation in policy dialogue and monitor the work of public authorities. This project will facilitate the citizens’ engagement in issues that matter to them and empower them to exercise influence beyond voting in elections, which in turn strengthen the democracy in Moldova.” stated Jānis Mažeiks, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova.

"EU4Accountability will offer grants to civil society organisations to support their participation in policy dialogue and monitor the work of public authorities" Jānis Mažeiks, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova.

EU4Accountability aims to promote the concept of social accountability among citizens, members of civil society and representatives of local public authorities by explaining the benefits of social accountability in practice. The benefits are visible once civil society better understands its role – to scrutinise draft decisions published by local authorities and come up with proposals in public debates, to demand the allocation of the local budget to the real needs of citizens, and also to observe whether public services are of good quality and ask for improvements where something is perceived wrong or unfair.

Thus, the lessons learnt from the project will contribute to a participatory analysis of policies and enable civil and state institutions to engage in a political dialogue to improve the ways in which citizens can put forward proposals to the authorities, and create conditions for citizens’ initiatives and opinions to be heard and understood. The project is based on a grassroots approach thanks to the involvement of Moldovan public associations, which will assess the needs in the districts and provide training activities for their colleagues.

In November 2022, CSOs will come together to participate in activities focusing on specific topics of interest relating to good governance. Organisations selected to be part of the project will be supported through organisational development workshops and their expertise on social accountability issues will be enhanced.

Finally, the EU4Accountability project also foresees later to offer grants to CSOs in the 10 target districts of the project to implement social accountability processes at local level. In this way, as they will be able to participate more effectively in community planning, as CSOs will be better recognised as legitimate actors to engage in local democratic governance.

Find more by following the project’s Facebook page. 

The project is implemented by a consortium of three organisations: the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA) and the Czech NGO People in Need (PIN) from 2022-2024.


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The work of LDA Armenia within ALDA’s network


ALDA coordinates 15 Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in their activities. Indeed, the Association has been funded by the Council of Europe in the 1990s, right after the Western Balkans war, as an umbrella organisation for democratic support, engaging local governments and civil society organisations from Europe and beyond. 

LDAs are locally based organisations supported financially and politically by partners and international associations, and their work is based on multilateral decentralised cooperation. Partnership-building is key for the mission of LDAs.

ALDA’s Governing Board, each year, monitors LDAs activities and labels those fulfilling ALDA’s values in terms of local governance promotion, sustainability, partnerships etc. 

ALDA’s network of LDAs is concentrated in Western Balkans and South-East Europe Neighbourhood of Europe; however, with its new strategy ‘going global, ALDA wants to widen the geographical scope to other parts of the world, bringing the same values of citizen engagement and support to decentralisation. An example is ALDA’s commitment to open new LDAs in Vinnytsia and Odessa, as to support people in Ukraine. 

In particular, LDA Armenia, established in 2011, promotes the capacities of local authorities and civil society in citizens’ participation, supports the development of local and sustainable tourism, reinforces regional cooperation, and empowers youth and women in environmental and community development initiatives. 

Moreover, thanks to its cooperation with different European stakeholders and associations, it promoted the implementation of many initiatives in the field of local democracy and participative decision-making.

ALDA’s values are translated into the work of LDA Armenia

During the previous months, LDA Armenia implemented different projects and initiatives. Among these, there’s the “Advocacy at the local level – Shirak project, within the framework of “Local Democracy School”. More specifically, the LDA held meetings in the Shirak region, where administrative leaders, council members, municipalities’ staff could debate with the locals, and give the image of reality from grass root perspective and reflect the needs and problems. 

LDA Armenia also conducts training, such as the ones within the “Youth Camp – Summer 2022” in cooperation with Gyumri Youth Palace, which were about nature protection, climate change and citizens’ participation, where young students were actively involved in the process. These are among the core values that ALDA advocates for in its daily work. 

To have a look at the implemented activities, please check the LDA Activity Report January-June 2022.

Supporting participative democracy in Algeria

From 3 until 7 October, 2022, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, was in Tlemcen, Algeria, to deliver the third round of capacity building activities to Local Authorities on good governance and citizens engagement

After the successful past experiences, Ms. Valmorbida returned to the country to deliver high-level trainings on participative democracy as part of the programme for supporting local participative democracy and social accountability, started back in 2017.

The programme valorises the importance of citizens’ engagement in strategic development and solution problem-oriented policies.

ALDA is back in Algeria for the third round of capacity building activities on participative democracy to Local Authorities

Selected by SOFRECO, a worldwide leading company in consultancy with a mandate from the Algerian Ministry of Interiors and the support of the European Commission, Ms. Valmorbida, along with two other experts, Mr Mohamed Sakri and Mr Moufida Ouselati, led the formation of 45 heads of Daira, territorial administrative Units known in English as ‘districts’. By the end of 2022, it is foreseen the training of a total of 270 heads of Daira.

This third round of activities strengthens the already solid cooperation between the country and the Association, testifying the role of ALDA as a reliable and specialised partner not only in Europe but also in the Mediterranean area.

We conclude this fruitful and intense week with the willingness to further nourish this partnership in the future and to continue spurring democracy at the local level and building resilient communities worldwide.  


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ALDA supporting the European Parliament campaign to Fight Hate Crime

On 28 and 29 September 2022, ALDA team was part of the event on combating hate crime and hate speech at the European Parliament 

The event took place in the framework of STAND-UP project that aims at countering and standing-up against hate in the EU; its goal is to create a comprehensive counter-hate crime framework covering all components of the counter-hate process, reporting-investigating-prosecution-prevention (RIPP), embedded within a framework of victim support. The project targets France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. 

‘Defining Hate Crime: Towards a Common European Definition’ is already the second project event hosted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Ordinary Court of Trento (leader). Previously, the consortium met in Granada for the kick-off held by Fundacion Euroárabe de altos estudios (FUNDEA). 

The two-day event in Brussels began with the panel discussion by the experts representing multiple national and international agencies involved in the development and implementation of policy regulations on hate speech and crime – CoE, DG Justice, OSCE and others. 

Giovanni Gasparini, deputy Public Prosecutor of Venice (VEJudPol), opened the session with a general overview of the STAND-UP project and its objectives. He defined the concept of ‘hate crime’ as a criminal offence committed with a bias motive as a distinctive element’, and introduced  the challenges related to prosecuting it. Followed by Viktoer Kundrak, Hate Crime Officer at OSCE, summarised the OSCE way of legislating against hate crime.

Menno Ettema, Programme manager & Co-Secretary to the former Committee of Experts on Combating Hate Speech at the Council of Europe, spoke about the Recommendation on combating hate speech, which is the main legal and policy framework reference to prevent and combat this situation . Mr Ettema, however, stressed on the non-binding nature of the Recommendation, which results in its arbitrary application by the member states.      

Opening the second panel, Viviana Gullo, Junior Project Manager at AGENFOR, presented the case of Austrian doctor Lisa-Maria Kellermeyer, a victim of hate speech and cyber bulling  by the anti-vaxxers. For months, she reported attacks on social media and threatening letters from people writing they wanted to “slaughter” her and her staff, which was neither acknowledged as a crime nor properly investigated by law enforcement. The case ended with the doctor committing suicide, prompting more attention to the legal regulation of hate speech. This example served to prove how the STAND-UP blueprint would define a model to tackle hate phenomena and prevent them. 

In his discourse about standing up in education, Alberto Izquierdo Montero, from UNED MADRID,  talked about  visualise the mechanisms of hate speech to critically read the world. He focused on the importance of education in addressing hate speech, presenting a participatory research on adolescents facing this issue, to identify scenarios, agents and coping strategies.

The last session focused on the civil society role in tackling hate crimes was opened by Professor Vasiliki Artinopoulou, European Public Law Organisation (EPLO) and Member of SPT UN. Prof. Artinopoulou highlighted the importance of coordinated responses to tackle these phenomena, in particular the added value of having a joint system between the justice system and the CSOs to share information and collaborate. “We live in an era of conflicts, austerity, recession and insecurity, and thus there are only a few non-negotiable values, such as human dignity, respect and justice, remarked the Professor.  

The importance of education in addressing hate speech

During the second day, Alessandra Brigo, Project Manager and Coordinator of ALDA’s  Gender, Inclusion and Human rights HUB, presented the findings of the focus groups held between May and July 2022 in Italy, Spain, and Greece. One of the most striking research results revealed the bias in law enforcement and the police departments on what concerns racism, victim blaming and others. ALDA colleague suggested that the STAND-UP project presents a unique opportunity to tackle these bias, and urged to pay particular attention to it, to make a real impact on the systems in the targeted countries. 

In the discussion about the best practices to counter hate speech/crime, Giovanni Gasparini pointed out that the existing national legislation in Italy is poor, less effective and non inclusive and that the legal provisions are not in line with the cultural evolution of society. 

Garyfallia Anastasopolou, Lucía García del Moral, and Sergio Bianchi, discussed in a round table on coordinated responses to tackle hate crimes and the role of Civil Society Organisations.
A contribution about the technology to prevent hate speech was made by Luigi Ranzato and Nicola Cordeschi from the judicial police of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Trento. 

Cristina Rodríguez Reche from the universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, talked about the importance of a gender and intersectional perspective in the context of Islamophobia in Europe.
Concluding the session Carmelo Ruberto, former Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rovigo, talked about the Sinti ethnic group in the hate context, presenting a real case of the murder of C.E, and ethnic Sinti, by his minor son and his moral accomplice. The case was relevant because the accomplice showed a strong racist attitude, but this aggravating circumstance was not taken into consideration.

The event was a good opportunity to discuss this phenomena, in order to see what has been done and what needs to be tackled in the next phase of the project. 


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