“Local Democracy will save Democracy”: this was the motto and the core concept behind the ALDA Festival 2023, held from 6 to 9 June in Etterbeek, Belgium.
The highlight of this 4-day long event was most certainly ALDA General Assembly, which took place on Thursday, June 8th in the beautiful and historical location of the Etterbeek Municipal Hall, kindly hosted by the Mayor of the Municipality, Mr. Vincent De Wolf.
We’ve been very proud of noticing an increasing participation and interest by the whole network of ALDA. Indeed not only members’ representative, but the hall was filled with partners and friends of the Association, who attended intrigued by ALDA’s activities in Europe and around the world and wished to deepen knowledge on ALDA’s present and future action plans and priorities.
The opening of the Assembly was conferred to the vice-president of the European Commission, Ms. Dubravka Suica, which was followed by a fruitful exchange of opinions and questions by members and partners in the hall. Extremely interesting and insightful speeches were also delivered by our guests the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Mr. Leendert Verbeek; the Head of Unit of the programme Europe for Citizens, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), Mr. Gilles Pelayo; and the Executive Secretariat of the Central European Initiative, Mr. Ugo Poli.
These experienced speakers focused on the importance of democracy, and how crucial it is to safeguard it especially in the present time, where democracy itself is undergoing various threats such as populism, authoritarianism, disinformation and misinformation.
“To save democracy with local democracy means that we are in emergency times where democracy needs to be saved, for this reason it is important to act now”- stated Mr. Poli.
They all emphasised how crucial it is to act locally and to promote and sustain democracy at the local level, so that a solid foundation can be built to establish a resilient global one.
This session continued with the presentation of the paper “Local Democracy will Save Democracy” by Ms. Daniela Ciaffi, Labsus vice president and ALDA member. A publication that capitalises on the experience of ALDA and its members and partners in an attempt to contribute to the challenges posed to Democracy in Europe and in the world. It was followed by the preview of the documentary on the 30 years anniversary of LDAs in the Balkans produced by Mr. Francesco Zarzana, vice president of ALDA, and director of Progettarte Officina Culturale.
Local Democracy will save Democracy: ALDA General Assembly 2023
The opening ceremony of the ALDA General Assembly was followed by a statutory part, a more technical phase, where the internal matters of the organisation were discussed. Ms. Maddalena Alberti, Director of the Association “LDA in Zavidovici”, member of ALDA and member of the newly ALDA Advisory Board, was appointed as Chair of the Ordinary General Assembly. A very important role, which consists of leading the work of the Assembly and ensuring that all major points of discussion are addressed.
After having explored the activities implemented in 2022 by the organisation and the Local Democracy Agencies, through the presentation of the Activity Report 2022, another important moment took place, which consisted of the presentation of the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Policy by Ms. Natasa Vuckovic, ALDA vice-president, with the purpose of outlining values and standards we expect staff and other people associated with ALDA to uphold, protecting staff and other stakeholders from any form of discrimination.
The Assembly concluded with the official presentation to the audience of the Advisory Board members, a selected group of persons which thanks to their expertise in different fields will closely follow the work of the organisation by acting on geographical areas.
The annual General Assembly of ALDA is the most important event of the Association, where members, stakeholders and partners gather together to discuss the work done so far and establish future directions. This year it had a different taste, because it also marked an important anniversary for ALDA, namely 30 years since the establishment of the very first Local Democracy Agency in the Balkans, the LDA Subotica.
30 years of supporting and promoting local democracy, to save democracy globally.
Because Local Democracy will save Democracy.