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Democratic inclusion and resilience in 2023 at the core of EPD’s annual conference

Challenges and adaptation have become the norm in democratic processes in Europe and all around the world. Although we live in an increasingly advanced world in many respects, there is a constant and growing need to act in defence of democracy and democrats.

This was the starting point behind the EPD’s Annual Conference and 15th Anniversary, which took place on June 20th 2023, at the Hotel Comet in Brussels.

The Conference saw the participation of brilliant keynote speakers who nurtured the discussion, notably the Vice-President of the Commission, Ms Dubravka Šuica who gave an inspiring speech on the future of democratic participation in Europe.

We continue our work on building an innovative democratic ecosystem that is the basis for a democracy fit for the future. Both on- and off-line. – Stated Ms Šuica – In a democracy, our greatest, most precious asset is our citizens. It may sound obvious, but I must emphasise that there is no democracy without citizens. (…). We really need to improve how we communicate with our #citizens and the best way to do this is starting at the grassroots with local democracy actors”.
[Read the full speech here]

In the wake of the welcome speech Ms Šuica gave at the opening ceremony of ALDA General Assembly, for ALDA it is always extremely motivating and inspiring to note the Commission’s proximity and direct support in our joint efforts in favour of local democracy and citizen participation in Europe and beyond, acting as strong partners pursuing the same mission.

We need to improve how we communicate with our citizens and the best way to do this is starting at the grassroots with local democracy actors” – Ms Dubravka Šuica

Ms Šuica then mentioned all successful and innovative participative practices introduced thanks to the Conference on the Future of Europe, as well as the importance of the more recent Defence of Democracy Package, to which ALDA itself had the opportunity to include specific recommendations.

This intervention paved the way for a panel exploring initiatives to increase participation across Europe. Moderated by Richard Youngs, Carnegie Europe, the panel was animated by:

  • Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and HEC Paris and founder at The Good Lobby
  • Colin Scicluna, Head of Cabinet of Vice President Dubavka Šuica, European Commission
  • Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA – the European Association for Local Democracy
  • Anthony Zacharzewski, President of The Democratic Society


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Theatre writing workshop in Schio (IT). Join in!

Are you looking for a summer training activity that will enrich your curriculum and enable you to acquire new skills?
Are you interested in theatre and writing?

Participate in the theatre writing workshop on 7-8-9 July 2023

The workshop consists on a cycle of 3 sessions:

  • Friday 7 July 2023, 7-9 p.m.
  • Saturday 8 July 2023, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
  • Sunday 9 July 2023, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

If you have a passion for writing and theatre, are always looking for new stimuli and acquire new skills, or perhaps you are considering a course of study in the humanities, theatre, film… This is the workshop for you!

You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the theory and practice of playwriting, learning how to devise and give voice to your characters. But it doesn’t end there: you will try your hand at writing a monologue that will contribute to the production of a European TV series!

Click HERE to sign up for the course


  • Participate in a training opportunity led by experts in the field and designed to provide you with general knowledge and practical tools that will enable you to try your hand at playwriting in a simple but structured way.
  • You will contribute to a European project involving 8 countries. The workshop will enable you to deepen your knowledge of playwriting techniques and apply them concretely by contributing to the writing of a monologue to be included in an episode of a TV series to be filmed in Schio in autumn 2023!
  • Put yourself to the test in a stimulating and creative environment, and acquire transversal skills such as dialogue writing, devising scenes, characters and much more.



The workshop is an initiative of the Municipality of Schio, realised in cooperation with ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy.

The training is carried out by expert trainers from the Schio Teatro 80 association and will cover the following topics:

  • The structure of playwriting (from writing to acting, credibility of action, script and emotional turns, captions and descriptions)
  • Definition of characters and scenes
  • Styles (drama and comedy, rhythm and language, realism and fantasy)
  • Dialogue and monologue
  • Practical exercises

A certificate of attendance will be issued at the end of the training.



Participation is free of charge and only open to adults. No previous experience is necessary.



The training will take place at the Faber Box in Schio (VI), Viale Tito Livio, 23-25 in the Learning Box 1 room on the third floor.

Dates and times of the workshop:

  • Friday 7 July 2023, from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday 8 July 2023, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
  • Sunday 9 July 2023, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m

The course lasts 8 hours and is free of charge. Participation in all modules is recommended but not compulsory.

To register fill out the online registration form
For information write to valentina@alda-europe.eu or call 0444 540146.


The workshop takes place in the context of the FACE UP – Factory Cities of Europe United in Partnership project.

The project is funded by the European Union’s CERV programme and aims to promote the historical-industrial heritage of several European cities, including the municipality of Schio.

After 6 years, Antonella Valmorbida hands over EPD’s Presidency

This years’ EPD’s General Assembly has been a special one, for the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), for all its network of members, and for ALDA.

Indeed, held on June 19th 2023, this General Assembly not only saw the discussion of internal issues important for the running of the Organisation, but also included the renewal of the Presidency.

Thus, after 6 years, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General and President of EPD until that day, handed over the presidency to Thijs Berman, Executive Director of NIMD – Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

Since 2017, Antonella Valmorbida has been the Chair of EPD, guiding the organisation through a challenging yet transformative period, together with the Board members, the Executive Director Ken Godfrey and the whole EPD’s staff.

Among the several challenges encountered during her mandate, we recall the Brexit, the worldwide pandemic and the more recent war in Ukraine that has shaken Europe and the entire world.

We are proud of our Secretary General’s constant dedication and commitment to local democracy and we congratulate the new Chair, Thijs Berman!

In her speech, Antonella Valmorbida recalled achievements and challenges of the last 6 years, with a focus on EPD’s mission and commitment for a better and more responsive Democracy in Europe:

We managed to get bigger but our determination to remain a lively and inclusive partnership has also been fulfilled. – stated Antonella Valmorbida in her speech – We were able to survive to our own success. We are a strong community and an instrument putting together our experiences and knowledge as strong and effective practitioners. We know how much effort democracy requires and how it must be multilevel and holistic. – continues Valmorbida – Democracy is more than elections, it is more than political parties, it is more than local governments, it is more than good and free media, it is more than civil society. Democracy is the interaction and empowerment of all these elements and this why EPD is unique and has been so effective in these last years.

As ALDA, we are proud of our Secretary General’s constant dedication and commitment to local democracy, which she pursues in ALDA and outside our organisation, confident that she will continue her appointment into the EPD Board with the same commitment, to accompany the organisation in its future endeavours.

Moreover, we congratulate the new president, Thijs Berman, who we are sure will successfully lead the organisation in the years to come!


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Third Transnational Project Meeting of the PACIFY-D project: the consortium met in Strasbourg!

On June 15, 2023, the PACIFY-D project partners gathered together in Strasbourg (France) for the third face-to-face Transnational Meeting.

The PACIFY-D project is working towards providing innovative training opportunities to young people and establishing Country Info Points as local learning centers for youth education, to strengthen democratic attitudes through civic engagement and civic participation

In this ongoing phase of the project, partners are drafting the guiding documents to build and structure the CPIs as well as piloting the CPIs in the targeted countries.

The meeting represented an excellent opportunity for partners to monitor the progress of the project, identify next steps and share views on the project topics!

Firstly, during the meeting, the Training programme for YLAs in developing skills was presented and discussed, including the translations of the digital modules and the report collecting all the main information. The translated and digitalised contents will be available soon on the project website.

Then, the second part was dedicated to the Guide for the development of Country Info Points (CIPs) and Piloting was presented, presenting the updates based on how to structure and build the CIPs. Cooperativa GEA, leader of this project result, will finalise a comprehensive and detailed guiding document by the end of June 2023,to be used for the replicability of the CIPs in other countries. 

The third and last part of the meeting programme, dedicated to the PACIFY-D Policy Handbook, consisted on the presentation of ALDA’s handbook draft and on a brainstorming session, collecting partners’ feedback and inputs. Following the outline presented in Strasbourg at the meeting, ALDA will collect partners’ contributions, and finalise and consolidate the handbook by the end of November 2023. 

Finally, coordinated by ALDA, all partners discussed the communication and dissemination of the project, exchanging views on its objectives and results as well as on the reporting requirements.

The PACIFY-D project will end in March 2024, when the final conference of the project will take place in Brussels!

"Je Repars de Toi" project brings on stage tunisian and italian youth with disabilities

On June 04 2023, LDA Tunisia organised another session of the inclusive show entitled “Theatre for ALL” within its project “Je Repars de Toi”.

The 2-plays show took place in the Cultural house of Chebika in Kairouan and the objective was to provide a platform for inclusion, personal growth, and soft skills training. The first play to debut was called “Desire” and it was performed by Tunisian young performers with physical and mental disabilities or that had to drop out of school due to family issues; the second play was named “Memories” and it was performed by Italian youngsters under the supervision of the project partner COPE Italy.

The masterful performance led the audience to a dimension of contemplation and introspection. Indeed, the show adressed prominent social issues such as inclusion, acceptance, resilience and solidarity. Furthermore, the artistic pieces transcended cultural and linguistic barriers as they relied entirely on creative corporal expressions. 

The message that was delivered to the community was invaluable

The message that was delivered to the community was invaluable: disabilities need to become a source of diversity and enrichment rather than exclusion. The artistic expression is one of the way to improve adults’ special needs capacities, together with the support of their community as the engagement of citizens plays an active and positive role favouring their rights and their inclusion.

The plays are the result of training workshops within the project “Je Repars de Toi” that aims to include people with disabilities through a community-based approach. This initiative is financed by the Italian Agency for cooperative Development AIC’s, implemented with COPE Italy, in partnership with LDA Tunisia, the ministry of Social Affairs, and the associations ASDA, AGIM, UTAIM and the Italian association Mettiamoci In Gioco.


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Inclusiveness and anti-discrimination: ALDA supports the LGBTQIA+ community and celebrates Pride month 🏳️‍🌈

Do we still need to celebrate Pride Month?

Yes, we do! We do because although the rights of people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community have increased since the beginning of the new millennium, we still cannot talk about complete equality

Furthermore, if we take a quick look at the Rainbow Europe Map published annually by the ILGA Europe, we realize that in some European countries, such as Italy, the queer community is not even granted basic rights. In addition to being discriminated against legally speaking, this also affects their everyday life. 

Articles of aggression against people in the community are daily occurrences, but even worse than aggression is the fear of coming out. Fear is triggered because of the few legal protections and as a result, many people in the community are unable to live their gender identity and sexual orientation openly, like cisgender and heterosexual people. 

Inclusiveness and non-discrimination represent some of the core values underlying ALDA’s work and mission, also at the core of projects we develop and implement, such as STAND UP, or MOVING On.

Inclusiveness and non-discrimination represent some of the core values underlying ALDA’s work and mission

Although the Gay Movement started as a liberation movement for the white gay population, over the years it has attracted many other minorities and subgroups to it. Today it is more correct to talk about Pride than Gay Pride as it does not only represent the gay minority but different groups, such as all non-binary or asexual identities. 

The Queer movement has also championed battles for the liberation of the body, both the black body and the fat body. Within pride, it is no longer only the gay identity that is celebrated, but the diversity and uniqueness hidden within each of us, coming from the intersectionality experienced by each of us. It is crucial to welcome and accept all identities and all representations of being, such as being part of the black and gay community or being a transgender person with a migratory background. 

For this reason, the pride we want to celebrate is an intersectional pride, best represented by the new inclusive pride flag. 

How to support LGBTQIA+ Community

  1. Get informed about the LGBTQIA+ community through articles, news, podcasts and social media pages that support the movement. 
  2. Understand your privilege condition as a cisgender and heterosexual person. Find out more about the Daily Effects of Cisgender Privilege in this recent study published by the Gender and Sexuality Center. 
  3. Be an activist online and offline openly showing your support to the LGBQTIA+ campaign taking part in queer organizations, prides, fundraisings and so on. 
  4. Get acquainted with being uncomfortable; You may make mistakes as you get to know the LGBTQIA+ community better. It’s not a problem, it’s perfectly fine.


Micro Glossary

Cisgender: Indicates persons whose gender identity corresponds to their gender and biological sex at birth. 

LGBTQIA+: The acronym for Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and +, every other person who feels represented by the community. 

Gay Pride: It is a tradition dating back to June 1969 as a consequence of the Stonewall attacks. Since then, pride has been celebrated in June, to let the world know that yes the queer community exists and that each of its members does not have to apologize for being the way they are but rather is proud of its diversity. 

Transgender: Indicates persons whose gender identity does not correspond to their gender and biological sex at birth. Nowadays it is preferred to use the acronym AMAB or AFAB which stands for Assigned Male At Birth and Assigned Female At Birth, Recognising non-conforming identities more inclusively.

Middle East & Africa Department roundtable at ALDA Festival & General Assembly 2023

The mission of this year’s ALDA General Assembly was to state that Local Democracy will save democracy. In this light, the Middle East & Africa Department organised on June 9th in Etterbeek (Brussels) a roundtable titled “Stronger together: exploring EU’s contribution to local democracy around the globe” in collaboration with the most relevant institutions, donors and partners working together with ALDA in the area.

The roundtable delved into the topic of the European Union and the French State as global agents boosting democratic values in Third Countries exploring three specific areas: the African continent, Türkiye and the Euro-Mediterranean area. The aim was to highlight the main challenges affecting local democracy in the communities bordering the EU as well as the initiatives taken by institutions and civil society organisations to address them, through concrete examples.

With the support of the Directorate-General for International Partnerships of the European Commission (DG INTPA), introduced by its Head of Sector in Democratic Governance Tom Millar, the first focus of the roundtable was given on how the EU can support local democracy in the African continent. The main priorities identified by the EU in that sense lie on youth as target beneficiaries and main actors for change, as well as country-level work. Along this line, DG INTPA is funding the WYDE – Civic Engagement project, led by EPD – European Partnership for Democracy where ALDA is managing the Cluster 1, dedicated to regranting directed to youth organisations in the whole continent. The project has been presented by the ALDA project coordinator Abdelaziz Bouslah, together with the ALDA Grants manager Faty Babou, and Cluster partners Elbarlament’s Managing director Sebastian Bloching and People in Need’s Youth Civic Engagement Advisor Kristýna Sosnovcová.

The roundtable analysed challenges affecting local democracies in the communities bordering the EU and how to adress them

In the case of Türkiye, the floor was opened by the Deputy Head of the Türkiye Unit of DG NEAR – Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission Katarzyna Marzec. In her opinion, the strength of Turkish local democracy lies in the dedication of citizens and civil society organisations, who need to be supported by EU institutions in their activities. An example of engagement at the local governance level was given by Özge Sivrikaya, Senior International Affairs and Projects Expert of the Marmara Municipality Union, one of the most important Union of Municipalities of the country, behind, among many other things, the organisation of the renowned MARUF – Marmara Urban Forum. In preparation for the next local elections in 2024, the EU Delegation to Türkiye funded the WE ACT project, presented by ALDA’s Project Coordinator Apolline Bonfils, which aims to strengthen women participation by providing capacity building related to politics and media as well as subgranting to civil society organisations. As a further way to support EU-Turkish cooperation at the local level, Sinan Erensü, Chair of the Board and Hüseyincan Eryılmaz, Project coordinator of MAD – Mekanda Adalet Derneği (Centre for Spatial Justice) have presented THE:PLACE programme. This initiative, funded by the Mercator Foundation and co-managed with ALDA, seeks to reinforce the collaboration among civil society actors and local authorities on top of cross-border cooperation.

As a third but equally relevant dimension where ALDA is active, the roundtable then focused on the Euro-Mediterranean area. An overview was given by Thibaut Lespagnol, Deputy delegate for Civil society, civic engagement and youth (DGM/CIV), who highlighted the most pressing issues affecting local democracy in the area: visa restrictions, informality of the third sector, political instability among others, and gave examples on how civil society support can be provided by French cooperation actions.

In this context, the role of the Anna Lindh Foundation has been presented by its Liaison Officer in Brussels Alessandro Lamonica, who explained how two initiatives such as the award for Mediterranean Capital for Culture and Dialogue and the Med Youth in Action programme can contribute through the promotion of good practices of governance and youth empowerment.

The roundtable was closed by Sam Khebizi, President of Les Têtes de L’Art, with whom ALDA is co-leading the French Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation. He reminded that, as the title of the roundtable said, we are stronger together in supporting local democracy: as co-leaders, as donors with beneficiaries, as civil society organisations with local authorities, as Europeans with neighbours, as people believing in democracy.

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The newly constituted Advisory Board: a group of experts to enrich ALDA's work globally

The ALDA General Assembly 2023, which took place on June 8, was the occasion to present to ALDA members’ representatives, partners and friends gathered in Etterbeek (Belgium), the newly constituted ALDA Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is a selected team of people with different qualities and expertise who will closely follow the work of the organisation by acting on geographical areas. 

During the ALDA General Assembly 2023, the group met with the members of the Governing Board in order to exchange views on future ALDA activities and to lay the foundations for a solid and fruitful collaboration.

The Advisory Board will remain in office for one year. Regarding the European area, the people who will be part of the group are as follows;

Ms. Kirsi Verkka, Participatory budgeting development manager at the city of Helsinki, who will cooperate with the HUB on citizens’ participation and territorial development. 

Ms. Maite Arrondo, freelance consultant and researcher on urban innovation, specialised in housing policies, who will follow the Working Group on Social Inclusion, cooperating with the Thematic HUB on Gender, Inclusion and Human Rights. 

Ms. Maddalena Alberti, LDA Zavidovici, who will be part of the Working Group on Social Inclusion, collaborating with the Thematic HUB on Migration. 

Ms. Joelle Gerber, Director of Maison du jeune citoyen et du Service Enfance Jeunesse in the city of Schiltigheim, who will also be part of the Working Group on Social Inclusion, cooperating with the Thematic HUB on Youth. 

To conclude the with European Area, Ms. Claire Breschard, Institut Français du Monde Associatif, will stay in the Working Group Civil Society Organisation Capacity Building and Mr. Aurelio Escobar, Consultant at Expert at Covenant of Mayors, who will join the Working Group on Environment, taking part of the Environment Thematic HUB. 

Concerning the Middle East & Africa area, Mr. Ahmet Allouch, Director at the Tunisian People’s Representatives Assembly and Project Manager and trainer at “Youth Without Borders – Tunisia” will closely follow the work implemented by ALDA in Tunisia. 

Ms. Elif Avci, Participatory processes and Youth Engagement Advisor at the Istanbul Development Agency, will cooperate with the Association for the activities carried out in Türkiye.

Lastly, Dr. Ibrahim Ndagijimana, One Mainstreaming Coordinator in GIZ Rwanda/Rights Based Programme, will cooperate with ALDA for the activities in Rwanda. 

Ms. Senida Mesi, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Albania, expert on civil society local governance, will be the point of contact for the Western Balkans area. 

While Ms. Inna Volkova, member of the Odesa Rayon Council and Ms. Tamara Ehs, expert on civil society and local governance will closely follow the activities implemented in the Eastern Partnership region. 

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The LDAs in Ukraine: an instrument of cooperation, community cohesion and development

Common action, bottom-up approach and support to local and regional authorities and civil society will lead the reconstruction and future of Ukraine“.

As the ongoing war against Ukraine is still damaging fundamental structures of Ukrainian society and governance, ALDA believes that it is its responsibility to bring the attention to the local governments and local civil society organisations since they are active on the ground to ensure that basic services are still provided to people.

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