PERCEPTIONS

The perception of Europe: voices and expectations of migrants

On the 19th and 20th January in Bologna, Italy, the Final Symposium of the “PERCEPTIONS – Understanding the Impact of Narratives and Perceptions of Europe on Migration and Providing Practices, Tools and Guides for Practitioners” project took place. The partners met to discuss the results achieved during this last three and a half years of fieldwork research and development.

The aim of the project was to examine how Europe and the European Union are seen by people who have migrated there or intend to do so. The research conducted investigated what perceptions and images of Europe exist among migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, how they are formed, whether they correspond to reality and what role they play in influencing migration decisions. The project also examined how the flow of information could be distorted and created toolkits of creative and innovative measures to counteract on distorted information, considering social, societal and structural aspects.


The objective of the project was to investigate the different perceptions of Europe, as well as the problems that are caused when expectation and reality do not match.


The final event of the project was open to the general public and brought together policymakers, academics, law enforcement agents, migrants, asylum seekers, NGOs, international organizations, and civil society organizations to discuss the project findings and the future research and practice opportunities.

During the first day of conference the participants had the chance to share their perspectives and experience the materials and resources developed throughout the course of the project. After an enlightening Roundtable on Perceptions’ knowledge and results, the general public had the opportunity to attend a R.E.D Carpet Exhibition, which included a live drawing and poetry reading session, and which concluded the day.

The second and last day of conference, on the other hand, focused on Perceptions’ future, highlighting how the project results open the way for new practices and research opportunities to explore in the future.

The event concluded with greetings from the team members of the University of Bologna, host of the event, and the screening of the film ‘Dystopia. The participants had also the chance to take part in the ‘Bologna Migrantour’ which took place in the afternoon, after the end of the conference.


SteDe

Erasmus+ Project “STeDe” flagged as good practice at European level

The Master course in Climate Change and Diversity: Sustainable Territorial Development (CCD- STeDe), an Erasmus+ Project, has been complimented for its successful implementation, creating a stable partnership network with real involvement of associated and industrial partners, which was also of a benefit for the students. 

ALDA has been a partner within the Master course CCD- STeDe since 2014, closely collaborating with University of Padova. 

CCD-STeDe is a world leading programme in the field of sustainable territorial development in the context of climate justice. This Master course is aimed at training researchers and professionals to support organisations acting in the territory and to draft sustainable development and climate adaptation policies for economic, social, environmental, international and intercultural management.


STeDe project scored 93/100 in the EACEA evaluation and is riconfirmed as good practice at EU level.


Thanks to its excellent work in the field of sustainable development, the University of Padova managed to influence and be a leader and to address most of the challenges of the European Higher Education Area, as stated by the EACEA.

The Joint master programme has been attractive, not only to the students, but also beneficial for all partners, as it increased their visibility and internationalisation.

What has been appreciated are also the innovative approaches, flexibility and adaptability shown during the pandemic period, in order to efficiently re-adapt the study programme to the sensitive period we lived in, thus showing the consortium a strong commitment toward the students.

This positive evaluation by the EACEA reflects the work and commitment of all partners to this project. 

On these positive notes, the new Erasmus Mundus Joint Master CCD-STeDe has opened the 1st call for applications: this is the only call with the possibility of being selected for an Erasmus Mundus scholarship!

 

The Master has four academic paths to choose from: 

  • Climate change, sustainability and development at Università degli Studi di Padova and Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar – Ecuador
  • Regional and Local Studies at University of Padova and Universidade da Madeira
  • Territorial Management at University of Padova and Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo
  • Environmental Management at University of Padova and University of Johannesburg

 

The deadline for the first round of applications is 10th March 2023.

Read about the programme and apply here


30

1993 – 2023: 30 years of local democracy in the Balkans

2023 certainly begins in a climate of uncertainty due to the economic and geopolitical situation in Europe and in the World. On another note, 2023 also marks an important anniversary for ALDA, the LDAs and the whole network.

It was exactly 30 years ago when it all started, with the establishment of the first LDAs in the Balkans.

Even though ALDA was born at the end of the 90s, our work and commitment started back in 1993, when the first LDAs were created at the initiative of the Council of Europe, with the mission to support civil society and peaceful co-existence in the states of former Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the conflict.

The very first LDA was founded in 1993 in Subotica, in Serbia, with the title of Local Democracy Embassy* (LDE) Subotica, shortly followed by the LDE Osijek, in Croatia, in the same year.

30 years later, the situation has profoundly changed. Year by year, the Local Democracy Agencies proved to be a successful tool and are now a network of 16 LDAs spread in the European Neighbourhood, with 3 Operational Partners (OPs) in Croatia.


It was exactly 30 years ago when it all started, with the establishment of the first LDAs in the Balkans


Thus, together with their mission, also the geographical scope of the LDAs has progressed. Today, LDAs can be found in other countries than the Balkans, but that is where we have preserved, in our everyday activities, the memory and the essence of the long journey we went through.

2023 will thus be marked by a series of events aimed at celebrating the everyday activity of the LDAs and their delegates, the achievements of ALDA and the LDAs through the years.

Public events will be organised throughout the Balkans, where it all started – thus setting a path recalling the milestones of the development of our activity in the Balkans and beyond;

A publication will be released which, in the form of a collection of anecdotes, pictures and testimonies, will recall the history of our first 30 years.

A video-documentary will be produced to revive the most important moments through images of places and people that have marked our history.

The anniversary will then culminate during the ALDA General Assembly, which will likely take place in June 2023 (more information coming in the following months!) with colleagues, members and delegates together to celebrate and reflect on the future development of the LDAs network.

Then, we will approach the end of the year with a crucial event in Strasbourg, in October 2023, where ALDA and LDAs will be hopefully present at the Congress’ premises.

These are just the milestone of an eventful 2023, with many more initiatives to de disclosed in the following weeks and months, aimed to celebrate our first 30 years of local democracy in the Balkans, from where it all started to the present day… and who knows how many more evolutions lie ahead!

Let the Anniversary begin!

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*Only in 1998 the LDAs has started being called as we know them today, switching from Local Democracy Embassies to Local Democracy Agencies.

Link to the LDAs report of activities of all the years


Barcelona

Barcelona awarded as the very first European Capital of Democracy

Innovative projects and initiatives made Barcelona becoming the very first European Capital of Democracy (ECoD), standing on the highest step of the podium before Brussels and Braga.

“Decidim”, the digital citizen participation platform, developed already in 2016; and “Superblock” which aims at transforming daily city life, decreasing the usage of cars caught the attention of the jury, allowing the city to be nominated, in 18 January 2023,  the first winner of this initiative.


"Participation is part of their DNA" - Ms. Valmorbida at the award ceremony in Barcelona


“We loved the projects and were excited to discuss about them all: They aim to include the general population, minority groups, and disadvantaged citizens. It sometimes seems that participation is even part of their DNA. Co-creation, co-production, and inclusion of other sectors are embedded and welcomed by all stakeholders we spoke to” stated Ms. Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General and ECoD Chair of the Jury.

Barcelona will now deliver a full year programme, from September 2023 to September 2014, to further strengthen democracy in Europe; while other cities can apply to become the next Capital of Democracy

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Read Ms. Valmorbida full speech here


partner

Members as key partners in implementing digital transition at local level

ALDA  Secretary General, Antonella Valmorbida, was in Brussels with colleagues to meet the Municipality of Etterbeek, in order to relaunch the strategic partnership that was established in 2017 and aiming at strengthening the links between the association and the municipality, notably in the field of citizens participation.

This meeting occurred in a very timely moment as ALDA just received the news that we won an Erasmus+ project in partnership with Etterbeek, called MEDIUM (Municipalities Experimenting Digital Innovation, Upskilling and the Metaverse). 

The goal is to support the public sector digital transition educating on the uses of virtual reality and the metaverse to improve accessibility to public services.


ALDA is supporting the digital transition at local level, through EU guidelines. 


At the meeting David Dubois, the head of cabinet of the mayor, Marie-Charlotte Heldenbergh, in charge of citizens participation, and Jean-François Maljean, head of projects were present. 

Together with Ms. Valmorbida, they  discussed possible cooperation around ALDA 2023 priorities, including the collaboration with LDAs in Ukraine, which are locally registered associations, gathering local authorities and CSOs, to promote sustainable development projects and good governance.

At the local level, they have been instrumental in addressing the challenges of the war and in the cooperation between civil society and municipalities, providing strengthened resilience.

At the same time, recalling the successful APProach project, Ms. Heldenbergh pointed out at the commitment of Etterbeek in terms of citizens participation. Implemented hand in hand with ALDA and the consortium partners, APProach increased  participation of foreigners in local life, ensuring that all citizens have a say in the local decision making process. Hence, considering that 49% of Etterbeek residents were non-Belgian this initiatives was a key actions   for the inclusion of EU Mobile Citizens, 

The team was also very happy to discover the new building of the municipality, for which Etterbeek received architectural success awards; it’s a natural building, and part of it is dedicated to social housing. 

 

Finally, to conclude on a positive note the meeting agenda, other points discussed were ALDA General Assembly, which will take place in June 2023 in Brussels, and possible future activities to raise awareness about EP elections. 


volunteer

Become a volunteer with ALDA with the project “EU LIVES - Leverage for Initiating Volunteering in Europe and Surroundings”

“EU LIVES” project is out! If you are a young enthusiast about Europe, want to do an experience abroad and interested in the work of ALDA, do not miss out: this is your chance to apply for the call and become a civil service volunteer for one year. 

The project objective is to involve young people in mobility paths that favor their personal growth:  on the one hand in view of their professional future, on the other in relation to their role of citizens of local communities and of a wider European community. This is the reason why it develops in Italy, but also in other ALDA offices in European countries, namely in France (Strasbourg), Belgium (Brussels) and North Macedonia (Skopje).


Apply by 10th February and make the most out of your civil service volunteer experience!


There are plenty of benefits for becoming a volunteer in ALDA: you will become an active citizen through actions for the community and for the territory, acquire new skills, put yourself to the test and enter the world of work. 

Activities of the volunteer: 

  • Funding research;
  • Research and monitoring of European and international calls for proposals
  • Project design, development and writing
  • Project management support
  • Drawing up reports, articles, social media posts 
  • Strengthening of local networks and networking
  • Dialogue and relationship with European institutions

You can apply for one of these ALDA offices: 

  • Brussels: 4 people
  • Strasbourg: 3 people
  • Skopje: 2 people 

What do you need to apply? You have to be between 18 and 28 years old, reside in Italy and possess a SPID account activated. Make sure to meet the deadline that is on 10th February 2023.

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Useful links


EUSAVE

EuSave - Activity Report Template

Take a look at the Activity Report of «#EuSAVE- EU Citizens’ Action for Smart Historic Villages» project, funded with the support of the European Union under the Programme “Europe for Citizens”

READ THE REPORT IN 🇬🇧READ THE REPORT IN 🇮🇹

Prijedor

Public services for efficient and responsible management in Prijedor

Within the framework of the “LINK4 Cooperation project funded by the European Union, the second Forum for sharing best practices of CSOs and LAs cooperation was held in Prijedor on 9 December 2022, gathering over 60 participants.

In addition to representatives of the international community the Forum was attended by representatives of local authorities and CSOs from:

  • Berkovici, Jablanica, Kostajnica, Maglaj, Mostar, Nevesinje, Novi Grad, Prijedor, Ravno, Trebinje, Zavidovici and Zepce

who jointly identified specific challenges of cooperation and expressed readiness to find optimal solutions to strengthen cooperation. Moreover, as the key tools in the context of joining the European Union an assessment of the impact and importance of the ELoGE process and the Leadership Academy (LAP) program of Council of Europe was also carried out.

Slobodan Javor, Mayor of the City of Prijedor and one of the hosts of the Forum, emphasized the importance of commitment to continuous improvement of public services and achieving more efficient and responsible management:

”The very fact that we are part of such an important project testifies how important it is to us to strengthen local participation and cooperation with the non-governmental sector. Also, through the segments and opportunities provided by the project, we strive to take into account the recommendations, all with the aim of improving local self-government, openness and transparency towards citizens.”


"The reform of local government in Bosnia and Herzegovina must achieve a high degree of direct participation of citizens" Dzenana Dedic at the second forum in Prijedor


Referring to the importance of participatory processes as a key factor in the development and stability of local democracy, Dženana Dedić, director of the Local Democracy Agency Mostar, emphasized: “The reform of local government in Bosnia and Herzegovina must achieve a high degree of direct participation of citizens, which is in accordance with current strategies and recommendations of international organizations“

Bearing in mind ALDA’s experience in launching the ELoGE program in Croatia, North Macedonia and Kosovo*, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, addressed the participants of the Forum, saying: “Good governance is the foundation of a functional and lasting democratic system. ALDA is honored to receive accreditation for the ELoGE – European Label of Excellence in Governance. An important program that, thanks to the partnership with the Council of Europe, contributes to the strengthening of democracy around the world and the establishment of a closer relationship between local authorities, civil society organizations and European institutions.”

A detailed presentation of the ELoGE process in BiH was conducted by the project partners. The findings from the benchmarking process were used as a base to detect most recurring weaknesses in municipalities that finalized the ELoGE process and were evaluated. The findings were presented by Ivana Velkova, project manager from ALDA Skopje, during the Zero document session and the participants were then asked to propose ideas on how to overcome those weaknesses during the World Cafe session “Moj grad, moja ulica”.

***

“LINK 4 Cooperation” project aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and civil society organizations in conducting participatory processes in order to jointly identify specific problems of communities and, thanks to a participatory approach, find the best solutions. The project consortium consists of the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Prijedor, the Center for the Development of Herzegovina (CRH), the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), and associate partner ALDA Skopje. Implementation began on January 1, 2021 and will last until December 31, 2023. Its value is over 540,000 EUR, of which the European Union provided over 490,000 EUR in grants.


accountability

Empowered 24 CSOs for increased social accountability in Moldova

24 Civil Society Organizations from the districts of Cimișlia, Florești, Străseni, Ștefan Vodă and Telenești, received the grant award contracts under the “EU4Accountability” project. The event was organized by ALDA, at Europe Café – EU Information Center, in Chisinau.

The “EU4Accountability” project is funded by the European Union and aims to improve social responsibility at the local level and to create sustainable cooperation mechanisms between local public authorities in the Republic of Moldova and civil society organizations (CSOs), in order to better respond to the needs of local communities.

“The financial support offered today by the European Union will allow CSOs to strengthen their efforts to improve democratic participation and respond to the concrete needs of citizens in Cimișlia districts , Florești, Strășeni, Ștefan Vodă and Telenesti” said Jānis Mažeiks, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova, invited to the event


“I would like to congratulate the civil society organizations awarded grants under the EU4Accountability action and thank them for their dedication to promoting social responsibility in the Republic of Moldova" Jānis Mažeiks


“This will include public campaigns to raise awareness of the budget process, civic engagement to monitor public spending and policy-making, and participatory budget consultations – all to get citizens and local authorities to jointly choose the investments that are most needed in their communities” continued the Ambassador “I would like to congratulate the civil society organizations awarded grants under the EU4Accountability action and thank them for their dedication to promoting social responsibility in the Republic of Moldova. With your country’s new EU candidacy role, the importance of civil society in moving forward on the accession path is even more evident.”

Similarly, ALDA colleague Alexandru Coica, thanked the European Union for its continued support of the Republic of Moldova on its European path and the development of communities through participation and an inclusive approach. In addition, he underlined the expected improvement in social responsibility in the target areas and the positive impact of small project grants on almost 140,000 citizens from 50 localities throughout the country

To be noted that the 24 projects selected for funding aim at strengthening the social responsibility of local initiative groups and organizations and enhancing the civic engagement of different target groups. The projects submitted by local CSOs are particularly aimed at young people, women, and people from vulnerable groups and provide for: (1) the development of initiative groups, advocacy campaigns and consolidation of local coalitions, (2) strengthening the capacities of CSOs in the regions and implementing of the participatory budgeting mechanism, (3) the development of civic and youth organizations and the creation of information centers for citizens.

 

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The “EU4Accountability” project, which runs from 2022-2024, is implemented by a consortium of three organizations: the European Association for Local Democracy ALDA, the European Partnership for Democracy EPD and the Czech non-governmental organization People in Need PIN, extends over 10 districts (Cahul, Comrat, Cimișlia, Fălești, Florești, Glodeni, Rîșcani, Străseni, Ștefan Vodă, Telenești), and provides for a total budget of 1.5 million EUR.


water

The importance of water: an Erasmus+ project to train students to become water experts

water

The Erasmus+ Water’s Experts project represents a valuable opportunity to underline the importance of water resources and raise awareness among young people and citizens on their role on the planet. 

Climate change has a huge impact on water resources, causing droughts, floods and rivers’ transformation, then endangering the ecosystems and human life. Hence the need to create suitable methods to monitor the main issues of rivers, especially in hydro-rich areas where agriculture and nature-based tourism are highly dependent on climate.

The project aims to create a new professional profile, the Water Expert, capable of understanding the geographic and biological specificities of the watercourses and able to identify and handle the critical issues. Thanks to a 4-month training course, students attending the last year of vocational schools will acquire specific knowledge and professional skills in water resources management.


Students will acquire specific knowledge and professional skills in water resources management


Together with ALDA, four partners are involved in the project, and the activities have been taking place in four European countries (Italy, Portugal, North Macedonia and France). The project partners met on the occasion of the Kick-off Meeting in Portugal on 3 and 4 September 2022, that has been an essential moment to coordinate and set the following step in the project activities.

In the last few months, the project partners have been in touch with schools to present the project and identify the students who will attend the training course. Many schools have shown interest in the project and are already onboard. In the meanwhile, they  have been working to finalise the training course contents and identify the experts who will train the students in each country.

ALDA is enthusiastic to contribute to such an interesting project, and is looking forward to sharing the upcoming news on the training courses.