Undivided Action on Divisive Speech

AT A GLANCE

This initiative marks the continuation of a project which has been funded by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (DRL) of the U.S. Department of State since 2015. “Get the Trolls Out! – Undivided Action on Divisive Speech” aims to empower civil society actors in Europe to leverage multiple media platforms (on- and offline) in order to counter intolerance and xenophobia targeting minority groups including Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. This phase builds on the programme’s unique track record in monitoring online hate speech and using the findings to challenge the perpetrators or debunk inflammatory rhetoric. It delivers social media-based campaigns to promote key messaging and help build a healthier ecosystem online. The project partners also continue to engage with social media companies in an effort to enhance their community standards and operating policies.

OBJECTIVES

Project’s expected impact

The goal of the programme is to reduce and degrade hate speech, discrimination and intolerance based on religious grounds in the European media space, with a specific focus on combating antisemitism.

HASHTAGS

#GTTO

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In today’s digital age, gamification has emerged as a powerful tool to foster specific behaviours, boost motivation, and enhance engagement in learning and skill acquisition. VALUEBOX is an Erasmus+ funded project, spearheaded by ALDA+, in partnership with Institut international des droits de l’Homme et de la paix (France) The Square Dot team (Belgium), Universidad Internacional de Valencia (Spain), Çiğli Fen Lisesi (Turkey) Innomate Ldt. (Turkey) and Istituto Omnicomprensivo Guglionesi (Italy). It aims to empower educational staff in creating an inclusive and high-quality education system that incorporates a European dimension in secondary school teaching.

Recently, the consortium completed the first output of the project, namely the Competence Framework for Teachers. This document seeks to establish a new competence framework for teachers and school leaders centred on fundamental rights and the common values of the EU, promoting inclusivity within European schools. 


The objective is to define and describe Values Education as a competence for secondary school students, developing a reference curriculum that details its components in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.


Targeting secondary school teachers, the document addresses the needs of students who will benefit from innovative teaching practices. The Competence Framework for Teachers aims to create a common competence framework for Values Education, and will be disseminated to other schools and educational institutions through a network established during the project period.

The next step of the VALUEBOX project is the development of a Gamified Self-Assessment and Recommendation Tool. This tool will help secondary school teachers assess their current knowledge of fundamental rights from the EU Charter and learn innovative gamified teaching methods. Directly related to the self-assessment, the project partners will then also develop a gamified online learning platform that will offer new teaching strategies for Values Education for teachers who want to strengthen their knowledge and teaching abilities. 

Stay tuned for further updates as VALUEBOX continues to foster the educational landscape with innovative, gamified learning tools and comprehensive frameworks for teacher development.

From June 18-19, 2024, the E-VOICE project partners were welcomed in Marseille (France) for the 6th Transnational Event by ACR+. This event, supported by the CERV programme, is spearheaded by the Municipality of Gazzo in Italy, with a diverse consortium of partners from Province of Padua (Italy), Sibenik (Croatia), Mioveni (Romania), UBBSLA (Bulgaria), ACR+ (Belgium), ALDA (France), and FAMSI. It was rich with activities on environmental issues as well as youth participation and role.

Firstly, the consortium had the pleasure to participate in the ACR+ General Assembly, focusing on circular economy principles and promoting environmental sustainability. An highlight worth mentioning is the keynote speech of Mr. Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the UNEP International Resource Panel, who focused on the centrality of an effective and sustainable resource management to ensure future sustainability. On top of that, the ACR+ General Assembly also featured the prestigious European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) Awards Ceremony, recognising outstanding initiatives from the 2023 campaign. Various examples of young people and communities engaging in innovative practices to raise awareness and promote environmental sustainability and consciousness.


During the second-day of the event, participants had the opportunity to visit Le Talus, a communal garden in Marseille that engages disadvantaged youth in sustainable practices. Thanks to their volunteers, the partners learned about innovative urban agriculture practices and tricks, as well various initiatives that aim at including disadvantaged youth. 


The E-VOICE project was presented, showcasing its objectives and achievements in promoting environmental awareness among youth and fostering community resilience across Europe.


This was also the occasion to meet the Secretary General of the Youth Express Network, Ekrem Sahin, who also shared insights, emphasising the role of youth in driving societal change and the way his organisations foster such changes. The partners had the opportunity to exchange good practices and highlight the E-VOICE project’s commitment to fostering resilient communities post-COVID-19.

Moreover, another essential part of the project  is the E-VOICE survey, an anonymous questionnaire designed to assess the pandemic’s impact across educational, behavioural, mental health, and employment domains. We invite anyone over the age 15 and living in Europe to contribute as this would help gather citizen engagement, particularly among young people, in post-COVID-19 decision-making processes. The results will then be processed by the University of Padua The survey is available in multiple languages, including English, Italian, French, Spanish, Croatian, Bulgarian, and German, and takes only 3 minutes to complete.

Stay tuned for more updates on the final conference of the E-VOICE project, scheduled for October in Padua, Italy. This event will showcase our collective achievements and set the stage for future initiatives in promoting sustainability and youth empowerment across Europe.

Join us in shaping a sustainable future and stay connected for more exciting developments from the E-VOICE project!

In the ever-evolving landscape of media and online communication, combating hateful narratives is crucial. As part of the “Get the Trolls Out” project, ALDA is dedicated to countering hate speech and fostering inclusivity. This article delves into the specific issue of anti-Muslim rhetoric in France, exploring the harmful narratives, presenting case studies, and reflecting on the implications of recent elections.

Islamophobia in France


Islamophobia in France manifests through various harmful narratives perpetuated in both traditional and online media. These narratives often paint Muslims as fundamentally incompatible with European values and society. Common stereotypes include portraying Muslims as inherently violent, oppressive towards women, and incompatible with democracy and secularism.

Media Narratives and Examples


Clash of Civilizations

A prevalent narrative is the “Clash of Civilizations,” which suggests that Muslims and their values are irreconcilably different from those of “native” Europeans. This narrative is bolstered by selective misinterpretations of Quranic verses and sensationalist media coverage that depicts Islam as a monolithic, violent faith. For example, some French philosophers and media commentators claim that Muslim migrants pose a cultural threat to France, a viewpoint echoed by figures such as philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who has made controversial statements about the integration of Muslims in French society. 

Islam and Democracy

Another damaging narrative is that Islam is incompatible with democracy. This viewpoint ignores the existence of numerous Muslim-majority democracies and the active participation of Muslims in Western democratic societies. The narrative promotes the erroneous belief that Muslims inherently favor authoritarianism and violence. For instance, during a TV debate, a French politician argued that Islam’s principles are inherently undemocratic, citing isolated incidents of extremism without acknowledging the broader context of peaceful and democratic Muslim communities. The narrative that Islamic culture is inferior to Western culture further fuels Islamophobia. This narrative undermines the rich, diverse contributions of Muslim communities to global civilization, framing them instead as backward and uncivilised. French media outlets have sometimes depicted Muslim neighborhoods as ghettos, focusing on crime and poverty while ignoring the positive aspects and contributions of these communities.

Case Studies


Case Study 1: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric in French Media

One prominent example is the portrayal of the suburban riots in 2005. French media predominantly depicted these events as violent uprisings by Muslim youth, ignoring the socio-economic conditions and systemic discrimination that fueled the unrest. This selective reporting reinforced stereotypes of Muslims as inherently violent and oppositional to French values.

Case Study 2: Political Exploitation of Islamophobia

During the 2022 presidential elections, several candidates used anti-Muslim rhetoric to gain support. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen consistently framed Islam as incompatible with French secularism and democratic values, proposing policies that targeted Muslim communities, such as banning the hijab in public spaces. This approach not only stigmatised Muslims but also polarised the electorate, contributing to social division and tension.

Reflecting on Recent Elections


The recent European and legislatives elections in France have significant implications for the fight against Islamophobia. Political discourse often leverages fear of the “other” to gain support, and Muslims are frequently targeted in such rhetoric. The good results of far-right candidates in the European elections has amplified these harmful narratives, posing a challenge for projects like “Get the Trolls Out.” 

Nevertheless, the relative failure of far-right parties in the legislative elections bring reasons to hope that the rhetoric of hate will decrease in the French society, although this is to be nuanced by the rise of antisemitic acts.


As a partner in the “Get the Trolls Out” project, ALDA is committed to monitoring and countering religious-based  hate speech. 


ALDA collaborates with other organisations across Europe to identify and challenge hateful narratives against Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and other religions by highlighting and addressing these issues. Get The Trolls Out aims at creating a more inclusive and understanding society

Combating this phenomenon in France requires a concerted effort to challenge harmful narratives and promote positive, inclusive discourse. Through initiatives like “Get the Trolls Out,” we can work towards a society where all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs, are free from hate and discrimination.

For more information on our efforts and to join the fight against hate speech, visit Get the Trolls Out website and follow its work on Facebook, Instagram and X

Sport plays an important role in our lives, helping to maintain good health and creating special bonds among those who practice it. The SIMPLE project—Sport, Inclusion, Movement, Participation, Learning, Environment – is funded by the Erasmus programme. It started on November 1st, 2023, and will continue until December 31st, 2024.

Project Overview and Goals

The aim of the SIMPLE project is to build a nexus between sport, social inclusion, and environmental protection through physical activity, sustainable practices, and a connection with local nature in Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece. The key elements of the project’s activities are to promote the inclusion of youth and people with disabilities through sport, help build healthy habits and well-being, and increase the capacity of grassroots sports sectors, social organisations, and public authorities to achieve these goals.

Context Analysis and Initial Findings

The consortium drafted a context analysis to develop the sport activities, highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that each region faces. This analysis was presented by IYII during the project’s kick-off meeting in Vicenza (Italy) on March 19th and 20th, 2024. The analysis confirmed that there is a wide variety of sports offered in the partner regions of Veneto (Italy), Varna (Bulgaria), Volos (Greece), and Strasbourg (France). Additionally, there are more than 4,900 registered sports clubs in the pilot territories, representing over 130 disciplines.


The predominant sports include football, swimming, basketball, sailing, athletics, gymnastics, yachting, climbing, running, and cycling.


Local Commitment and Resources

The development of sports and sporting activities in the partner regions benefits from strong local authority commitment, community interest, safe and well-organised facilities, and a dedicated pool of volunteers. Existing partnerships with local schools, businesses, and organisations further support sports programs. The natural environment and available public facilities suggest that the activities planned under the SIMPLE project are well-suited to the partner regions and can serve as a model for future events.

Key Deliverables and Implementation

Under the coordination of InnovED, the partnership completed three pivotal deliverables for the SIMPLE project in May 2024:

  1. Design of Safety Measures and Inclusive Strategies: This document sets up comprehensive safety protocols and inclusive practices to ensure that sporting environments are safe and accessible to participants of all abilities.
  2. Co-design of Activities: This introduces collaborative ways to engage young people under 15 years old and people with disabilities, making sports events sustainable and socially inclusive.
  3. Recommendations for Local Implementation: This report provides clear and concise advice to local authorities and sports organisations on delivering more accessible sporting venues and activities.

These efforts will enable the project to further its objectives of social inclusion and community development, laying the groundwork for sports activities and national events in Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy.

Local Events and Activities

Since the beginning of the project, Moana 60 has been actively implementing several events and activities within the framework of the SIMPLE project. In December, January, February and March local activities entitled “Discovering the territory” took place in several areas of the Veneto region. In detail: the Discovering the territory in Montecchio Maggiore of the 17th December, 2023; the Discovering the territory in Vicenza of the 28th January, 2024, the Discovering the territory in Lugo di Vicenza of the  25th February, 2024, the Discovering the territory in Monte Cengio – Tresche Conca of the 24th March 2024. Moana 60 has also been organising events at schools. One of these is the “Great Oak Meets the Sea” event organised in Thiene on the 4th of April, 2024, discussing future projects to raise awareness on the importance of environmental protection and social welfare.

The SIMPLE project demonstrates how sport can be a powerful tool for social inclusion and environmental awareness. By promoting physical activity and fostering connections within local communities, the project aims to create lasting positive impacts in Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece. As the project progresses, the insights and strategies developed will serve as valuable resources for other regions looking to leverage sport for inclusion and sustainability.

On June 19, 2024, the 11th Danube Participation Day (DPD) titled ‘’Creating change for successful EU enlargement – How can we work together for a sustainable, resilient, and stable transition in Ukraine and beyond?’’ took place in Vienna (Austria), organised by Foster Europe Foundation for strong European Regions (ALDA member). The Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar had the exceptional honour of being an important link with the Interreg Programme of the Danube Region, whose chairmanship Bosnia and Herzegovina will take over in 2025. The act of passing the bell to the director of LDA Mostar, Dženana Dedić, as a symbol of the jurisdiction transfer, officially announced the forthcoming Bosnia and Herzegovina presiding over this important programme of the European Union.


By the act of handing over the bell, a symbol of jurisdiction, LDA Mostar announced the BiH chairmanship over the DANUBE programme


The participants of this highly important event addressed the role of Civil Society in the transition laboratories of Ukraine and Moldova on their path into the European Union.

The event built on the results of the 10th Danube Participation Day in Ljubljana (Slovenia) which took place in 2023, following three main topics of innovation and transformation for Ukraine and Moldova social transformation, democratic transformation, and sustainable green transformation. Nevertheless, the three topics are intertwined and interdependent. Without a secure and developed democratic system and society no social or green transition can be imagined, while democratic or green transition can’t be imagined without a social transformation.

To strengthen networks and cooperation, the DPD gave space and time for direct contacts and debate among participants in two interactive sessions: an Agora where all participants had the opportunity to present (running or future) projects, NGOs/CSOs or special services as well as three Transition Laboratories debating the three issues of funding, capacity building, and a culture of participative governance.

As a third element, national and international institutions, active in funding in the Danube region had the opportunity to present their funding schemes with relation to civil society.

This event was followed by the two-day 13th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), which provides a platform for all stakeholders in the region and beyond to discuss upcoming challenges, work on common solutions and create a vision for a prosperous future, which gathered a large the number of high-ranking officials as well as the representatives of the non-governmental sector from the region. Bosnia and Herzegovina was presented at this event by the Mayor of Sarajevo, Mrs. Benjamina Karić. On this occasion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Elmedin Konaković, attended the meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of the Danube region countries, held on June 20, where they expressed their commitment to the Strategy of the Danube Region, by officially adopting the joint Vienna Danube Declaration.


Read also the highlights from ALDA’s 11th Danube Participation Day and 13th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

On June 19, 2024, the 11th Danube Participation Day became a significant event for ALDA, marked by the active participation of Inna Volkova, member of the ALDA Governing Board; Dzenana Dedic, the Founder and Director of the Local Democracy Agency Mostar; and Anastasia Buslaieva from the Ukraine Task Force. The event, titled “Creating Change for Successful EU Enlargement – How Can We Work Together for a Sustainable, Resilient, and Stable Transition in Ukraine and Beyond?” served as a crucial platform to underscore the importance of expanding the network of Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in Ukraine.

This gathering, which took place in Wien (Austria), emphasised the critical role that LDAs play in fostering local governance and community development. By advocating for their expansion, guided by the comprehensive strategy laid out in the ALDA Flagship in Ukraine, ALDA aims to empower more communities, fortify democratic processes, and promote a smarter, greener, and more inclusive recovery. This initiative highlights ALDA’s dedication to ensuring local voices are heard and democratic governance is deeply embedded in Ukrainian society.

A key focus of ALDA’s participation was advocating for urgent projects that support the rehabilitation of children of military personnel and internally displaced children (IDPs). Ms. Volkova and Ms. Buslaieva presented the “Smart Family House” project in Odesa (Ukraine), which encompasses the “Little Winds” early childhood development centre, a centre for children and adolescents, and a shelter for women with children from IDP families. These programmes are immediate necessities, honoring the sacrifices of military families and providing essential psychological support to traumatised children. This initiative demonstrates ALDA’s commitment to promoting a stable and supportive community environment.

A notable moment of the day was when Stefan Lutgenau of Foster Europe (ALDA member) ceremonially presented a bell to LDA Mostar, designating Bosnia and Herzegovina as the host country for the 2025 event. 


13th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region


On the following day, June 20, 2024, during the 13th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, the ALDA Team engaged in productive discussions with key stakeholders, including Ms. Alexandra Schantl from the KDZ Center for Public Administration Research. These discussions centered on capacity building for NGOs, a core aspect of ALDA’s mission. By enhancing the skills and knowledge of local NGOs, ALDA ensures these organisations are better equipped to address community needs and foster democratic governance.

Additionally, the ALDA Representatives had a fruitful meeting with Mr. Peter Polajnar, Deputy Head of the Ukraine Service Economic and Sectoral Policies Unit, to discuss how Ukraine can secure more EU project funding. They also connected with Olena Kulykova, Coordinator for Ukrainian Community Relations from Mütter-und Familienzentren in Bayern e.V., to explore collaborative opportunities to support Ukrainian mothers.

These efforts highlight ALDA’s role in building resilient civil societies and promoting effective local democracy across the Danube region.

[Article in Italian]

ALDA è orgogliosa di annunciare il suo coinvolgimento nel progetto partecipativo “AL CAMPO“, un centro di aggregazione giovanile che sorgerà nell’ex campo di calcio Franco Martini a Dormelletto (Italia). Questo progetto mira a creare un luogo dedicato ai giovani, promuovendo l’empowerment e l’educazione con la collaborazione dell’Hub di ALDA per l’Educazione e la Responsabilizzazione dei giovani.


Investendo nei giovani, ALDA mira a creare un futuro più luminoso per l’Europa e oltre, basato sui principi di democrazia, solidarietà e inclusione, creando un ambiente positivo e aperto in cui i giovani possono realizzare il loro pieno potenziale, contribuendo direttamente allo sviluppo sostenibile delle comunità locali.


L’evento di presentazione del progetto si è tenuto sabato 15 giugno 2024, dalle 9:30 alle 12:30, presso la Sala Polivalente di Via San Rocco, 3, Dormelletto (NO). La giornata è iniziata con un’accoglienza e un benvenuto, seguiti da una serie di interventi di esperti del settore.

Lorena Vedovato, Sindaco di Dormelletto, ha introdotto il progetto del Centro “AL CAMPO”, seguita da Giovanni Campagnoli e Roberto Tognetti della Fondazione Riusiamo l’Italia, che hanno presentato dettagliatamente il progetto. Massimiliano Caligara, Presidente del Circolo Legambiente Gli Amici del Lago, ha discusso dei valori e delle potenzialità del contesto ambientale del progetto.

Marco Boaria, in rappresentanza di ALDA, ha parlato dei programmi e delle iniziative europee per la mobilità e la cittadinanza attiva dei giovani, mentre Simona Elmo di ANCI ha presentato il Centro di Competenza sulle Politiche Giovanili a Impatto Locale.

L’Hub tematico di ALDA per l’Educazione e la Responsabilizzazione dei giovani fornisce conoscenze e risorse per facilitare e supportare i giovani cittadini a svolgere un ruolo attivo nelle loro comunità e a partecipare al processo decisionale, promuovendo la responsabilità civica e la coesione sociale. Attraverso progetti, workshop e partnership con attori locali e internazionali, ALDA sostiene l’inclusione dei giovani, perseguendo le loro aspirazioni di diventare agenti di cambiamento positivo. Un approccio completo che supporta i cittadini e la nuova generazione, costruendo ponti con le autorità locali e le istituzioni e promuovendo l’inclusività e il progresso democratico.

L’evento si è concluso con un aperitivo presso La Cucchetta, offrendo un’opportunità informale di networking e discussione.

ALDA è entusiasta di collaborare a questo progetto e di sostenere i giovani nella loro crescita personale e professionale attraverso iniziative concrete e inclusive.

On 13-14 June, ALDA (European Association for Local Democracy) took part in the 2nd Annual event of the Team Europe Democracy (TED) initiative. This significant gathering, held at The Faculty in Brussels, brought together key stakeholders dedicated to promoting democracy and human rights on a global scale.

The Team Europe Democracy (TED) initiative, launched in December 2021, is a global thematic Team Europe Initiative (TEI) that aims to enhance democracy and human rights worldwide. This initiative involves 14 EU Member States, including Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. The primary objective of TED is to create a coordinated strategic European response in support of democracy, effectively steered worldwide by the TED Secretariat, comprised of GIZ and Enabel staff. The TED initiative seeks to enhance evidence-based support for democracy globally, and to establish and strengthen networks among EU institutions, EU Member States, think tanks, academia, civil society organisations, and other like-minded entities in the fields of democracy support, human rights, and related areas. Additionally, TED focuses on producing and sharing best practices, lessons learned, approaches, and tools on democracy support.


The annual meeting of TED provided an invaluable opportunity for ALDA to collaborate with other European and international stakeholders committed to advancing democracy and human rights worldwide


The first day of the event commenced with a networking lunch, followed by a high-level opening ceremony with virtual and in-person addresses from key figures such as Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, and Caroline Gennez, representing the Belgium Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The event continued with plenary sessions focusing on fostering civic space, advancing rule of law, and a fireside chat with notable speakers including Hans Joppen, Ursula Werther-Pietsch, Heidy Rombouts, and ALDA’s own Secretary General, Antonella Valmorbida

ALDA was represented at the event by Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida and Communication Officer Manal Snidi

During the Members Fair, Manal Snidi provided an overview of ALDA’s mission and primary initiatives. She highlighted our work with the WYDE CE project, showcasing the outcomes of our recent activities and detailing the forthcoming call for proposals. Additionally, she presented our Flagship project on the Territorial Approach for Local Development (TALD), emphasising its significance and impact, notably in fragile context. 

The second day opened with a recap of the first day’s discussions and a session on TED Partner Country Engagement. This was followed by a thematic deep dive on elections, with panellists such as Ken Godfrey and Domenico Tuccinardi sharing their insights. The day featured intensive working group sessions, where ALDA contributed to discussions on political and civic participation, demonstrating our commitment to advancing democratic principles.

Participants were then divided into 3 groups, ALDA’s team took part in a working group on Democracy and Participation in which it has been contributing since the beginning of the TED. For the last 2 years, ALDA’s involvement has focused on sharing our extensive experience in subgranting management and promoting the (TALD). As a first cycle of activities arrived to its term, ALDA’s team had the opportunity to exchange with colleagues DG INTPA, Member States, Development Agencies and associations of local and regional development on how to better address democracy and participation at the local level. 

The event concluded with plenary sessions presenting the results of the working group discussions and closing remarks from the EU Commission, DG INTPA, and the TED Secretariat. ALDA looks forward to continuing our active participation in this initiative and contributing to the global effort to support democratic governance. 

ALDA is thrilled to share that Nataša Vučković, President of the Association, and the ALDA Balkans team recently attended the EU Civil Society Forum for the Western Balkans and Türkiye in Belgrade (Serbia), an annual event organised by the EU TACSO 3 project on behalf of the European Commission, DG NEAR.

From 11 to 13 June 2024, key civil society stakeholders gathered to discuss the new momentum for EU enlargement. In her inspiring speech, our President highlighted ALDA’s 25 years of dedication to the region and introduced the BOOST project, supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aimed at enhancing civil society cooperation. Nataša Vučković emphasised the critical role of civil society in EU integration, stating:

“It is of the utmost importance that, following the adoption of the [New Growth] Plan in the EU, the reform agenda in each of our countries are prepared responsibly, coherently, and in a transparent manner. The civil society has an important role to play by demanding transparency from the government, by participating in the design of reforms, and by monitoring their implementation.”

Nataša Vučković, ALDA President

She also underscored the need for public dialogue and structured dialogue with policymakers, noting that these efforts must be promoted and nurtured.

The forum covered essential topics like the role of civil society in EU integration, the importance of transparency and the rule of law, and fostering public dialogue. We engaged in meaningful discussions, focusing on how to build resilient and inclusive communities. The BOOST project exemplifies this commitment, aiming to strengthen civil society across the Western Balkans.

As we reflect on the connections and insights gained, we remain dedicated to promoting EU integration and regional cooperation. As we reflect on the connections and insights gained, we remain dedicated to promoting EU integration and regional cooperation. Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive, and democratic society, ensuring a brighter future for all.

Read the full speech here.

ALDA is beyond excited to welcome the selected EU ACT volunteers, who will join ALDA for the following 11 months.  Meet Valeria P., Valeria M., Emma and Martina, joining in Brussels (Belgium); Simona, Elisabetta and Alice, working in Strasbourg (France); and Federico and Tea, volunteering at the ALDA Office in Skopje (North Macedonia). They will actively work on different projects and initiatives within different departments, among which the project implementation, the development, the communication and the secretariat one. 

The nine EU ACT volunteers attended a two-day long training on the different activities of ALDA, introduced by the ALDA staff in Cremona (Italy). Afterwards, volunteers took off to their respective new roles and destinations: they are now moving their first steps in the ALDA offices, supported and encouraged by the whole ALDA Staff who is looking forward to working with young, proactive and determined volunteers. 

On a general perspective, the EU ACT project, developed together with the Municipality of Cremona within the Italian “Universal Civil Service” Programme, aims at involving young people in mobility paths that favour 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. Hence, the volunteers will follow the general target of the project by implementing ALDA’s daily tasks and while being part of ALDA’s big community. 

Nestled in the picturesque town of Thiene, Italy, Villa Fabris stands as a testament to timeless beauty: this stunning Palladian villa offers a unique framework to combine cultural enrichment with relaxing. Discover what ALDA offers to combine democracy and beauty in an environment that inspires and rejuvenates. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this extraordinary opportunity.

Join the Summer School or book your tailor-made Retreat at Villa Fabris and be inspired by this Palladian jewel.


ALDA Summer School 2024


The Summer School is a program designed for those passionate about democracy and good governance. This immersive educational experience provides participants with hands-on workshops, expert lectures, and collaborative projects, all set against the backdrop of one of Italy’s most beautiful villas.

The Summer School aims to convene thought leaders, policymakers, academics, and practitioners from around the world to explore innovative approaches, emerging trends, and best practices in local governance. 


Tailor-Made Retreats


For those seeking a more personalised and tranquil escape, the Tailor-Made Retreats at Villa Fabris offer a bespoke experience tailored to your needs. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to focus on your creative projects or a serene environment, Villa Fabris can accommodate your desires.

The retreats are designed to provide a full immersione experience, allowing you to unwind and recharge in a breathtaking setting.


Why Participate?


Both the Summer School and the Tailor-Made Retreats share a common trait: the enchanting location of Villa Fabris. Surrounded by lush nature and steeped in history, this villa provides an unparalleled setting for both learning and relaxation. Dive in hands-on workshops and tailored activities, while unwinding in the serene gardens or exploring the historic architecture of the villa.

Participating in either of these programs at Villa Fabris is not just an educational or leisure activity; it’s an experience that immerses you in the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Whether you’re enhancing your professional skills or seeking a peaceful retreat, Villa Fabris offers the perfect blend of beauty, history, and tranquility.


For more information


For information or booking please call +39 0444 540146

or send an e-mail villafabris@alda-europe.eu or


A TRULY UNPARALLELED SETTING FOR HOSTING RETREATS ON LOCAL DEMOCRACY-RELATED ISSUES


Villa Fabris in Thiene, represents an exquisite venue for hosting retreats focused on local democracy-related issues. Nestled in the heart of Veneto, Italy, Villa Fabris offers a captivating environment that seamlessly intertwines history, culture, and contemporary discussions on democracy.

Hosting a retreat on local democracy-related issues at Villa Fabris offers participants a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in an environment that inspires critical thinking and intellectual exploration. Whether engaging in lively debates in the Villa’s elegant salons or finding solace for quiet contemplation amidst the greenery of its grounds, guests are sure to find inspiration in every corner of this wonderful estate.

In addition to its inspiring setting, Villa Fabris offers a range of facilities and services to ensure a seamless and enriching retreat experience. From comfortable accommodations in the Villa’s beautifully appointed guest rooms, or in another locations nearby, to gourmet dining experiences featuring locally sourced ingredients, every aspect of the stay is curated to enhance comfort and enjoyment.

ALDA, the European Association for Local Democracy, co-manager of the Villa, is ready to support the organization, facilitation, and implementation of the retrait offering a wide range of services, thanks to its dedicated team of professionals who are committed to facilitating meaningful discussions and fostering collaboration among retreat participants. Whether you require logistical support, expert facilitation, or access to a wide range of resources on democracy-related topics, ALDA is here to ensure that your retreat is a resounding success.


AVAILABLE SERVICES


Logistics and Organisational Service

Space Reservation and Management

  • Booking of conference and meeting rooms
  • Configuration of spaces according to the client’s needs (seating arrangement, round tables, etc.)

Catering

  • Customised catering services for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and coffee breaks
  • Different menu including local, international, vegetarian and vegan cuisine

Accommodation 

  • Reservation of accommodations at nearby hotel
  • Transportation’s manage between accommodations and Villa Fabris

Transports

  • Organisation of transfers to and from nearby airports (Venice, Verona, Milan)
  • Local shuttle services for travel during the retreat

Content Services

Facilitation of Sessions

  • Professional facilitators to moderate working sessions and workshops
  • Facilitation of participatory techniques such as Open Space Technology, World Café and Design Thinking methodologies

Involvement of Experts

  • Inviting international experts in the field of local democracy, governance, active citizenship and other relevant topics
  • Organisation of discussion panels, keynote lectures and Q&A sessions

Training Programmes

  • Customised training courses on specific local democracy topics
  • Customised training materials and handouts for participants

Leisure and Cultural Services

Cultural Activities

  • Guided tours of Thiene and its main historical and cultural attractions
  • Excursions to nearby cities of historical interest such as Vicenza, Verona and Venice

Recreational Activities

  • Organisation of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and nature walks
  • Yoga and meditation sessions in the gardens of Villa Fabris

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Themed dinners with tasting of local wines and typical Venetian dishes
  • Cooking workshops to learn how to prepare traditional Italian dishes

Networking and Social Events

  • Organisation of networking evenings with cocktails and live music
  • Social events and gala dinners to facilitate relationship building among participants

Additional Services

 Technological Support

  • Provision of audiovisual equipment and conference technology
  • On-site technical support to ensure proper operation of all equipment

Promotional Materials and Branding

  • Creation of customised promotional materials for the event (brochures, gadgets, etc.)
  • Branding of spaces with the client organisation’s logo and theme

Documentation and Reporting

  • Video and photo recording services of events
  • Creation of final reports with summaries of the content and results of the retreat

With this wide range of services, ALDA ensures impeccable organisation and a comprehensive and enriching experience for organisations that choose Villa Fabris as the venue for their international democracy retreats



For information please call +39 0444 540146

or send an e-mail villafabris@alda-europe.eu


In 2023, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Moldova undertook a significant project aimed at modernising livestock farms and enhancing the milk collection process in the Cimișlia-Basarabeasca micro-region. Funded by UNDP Moldova, this initiative is a testament to LDA Moldova’s commitment to rural development and economic growth.

Project Overview

The “Modernisation of Livestock Farms” project, running from December 2023 to October 2024, targets a micro-region with 10 localities and 21,400 people. It focuses on the “Ovi-Caprin Cimislia-Basarabeasca” micro-cluster, aiming to automate milk collection and enhance feeding production. Through careful recipient selection via a closed call for proposals, it seeks to boost tourism services, economic growth, and revenue for its 24 members.

Achievements and Impact

One of the main achievements of the project is the significant development in livestock farming and milk processing in the Cimișlia-Basarabeasca micro-region. A budget of 145,000 USD (approximately 2,568,095 MDL) has been allocated to support these initiatives, with disbursements based on project milestones. The establishment of an implementation team and execution of non-monetary assistance agreements have facilitated the project’s objectives. These efforts are expected to generate economic growth within the micro-cluster, with performance indicators and risk analysis in place to guide and measure progress.

Success Stories

The project has already seen success stories that highlight its impact. For instance, Mr. Petru Casian, a young farmer from Abaclia village, returned to Moldova from Ireland in 2023 to start a livestock farming business. His venture, “Shepherd’s Farm,” focuses on developing productive sheep breeds and creating a milk production line. As a member of the Cimișlia-Basarabeasca Sheep and Goat Cluster, he benefits from the project’s support, which includes the construction of a modern farm equipped with automated milking technology and a photovoltaic system.

Mr. Petru Casian expressed his optimism about the collaboration within the cluster, stating:

“It is encouraging to see that farmers have joined together in a cluster to cooperate and develop. I have high expectations from this collaboration as it can bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, resource sharing, and joint sustainable development”.

Petru Casian

LDA Moldova’s project on the modernisation of livestock farms exemplifies a successful model of rural development. Through strategic partnerships, significant funding, and a clear focus on automation and enhancement, the project is set to bring substantial economic and social benefits to the Cimișlia-Basarabeasca microregion. The stories of beneficiaries like Mr. Petru Casian further underscore the project’s positive impact, showcasing the potential for growth and development in Moldova’s agricultural sector and sustainability.

Imagine a group of 70 people from 16 Mediterranean countries converging for a week in a mid-sized city in Southern Italy, a place where few similar events have ever been organised.

Why are you here? How did you arrive?” were among the most frequently asked questions. A massive organisational effort by REF – Réseau Euromed France and Mana Chuma Teatro, alongside REF members including ALDA, was essential to host the Med Youth Meeting 2024 in Reggio Calabria, Italy, during the last week of June. Unfortunately, despite meticulous planning, not all obstacles could be overcome. Five participants were unable to attend due to visa issues, even though they had been carefully selected.

After months of preparation, on Tuesday, 11th June, youth (up to 35 years old) from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal gathered, and the meeting kicked off at the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria the next day. Over an intensive four-day programme, they got to know each other and the associations in Reggio Calabria and Palmi (Italy), watched an impressive theatre performance by Mana Chuma Teatro, participated in five thematic workshops – including one facilitated by ALDA on “the phenomenon of instrumentalisation of youth participation” – engaged in a public debate on the obstacles to public mobility, recorded podcasts and interviews, composed a multi-lingual poem about the Mediterranean, tasted local products from a cooperative in Bova, and danced to traditional music in the village square.

Why are we sharing this with you? This meeting underscored the immense value of such experiences, especially during times when youth from these countries face violence and injustice. Young people from these regions live in fear that political forces opposed to diversity and inclusion will gain even more power, further excluding them from decision-making and future-oriented policies. But…

“I didn’t check the news for the first time in months.”

“It’s the first time I’m seeing the sea.”

“I didn’t know any of you before and I’m feeling at home.”

“I had no idea Calabria could look so much like my home country!”

These are just some of the emotional feedback received during the meeting.

The residents of Reggio Calabria, in turn, were astonished and moved to see such a large and cheerful group of young people enlivening their city.

However, this meeting and the network behind it are determined not to stop here, merely cherishing a wonderful experience with nostalgia. As it approaches its 10th anniversary next year, the Med Youth Network is ready to take on new challenges, pushing the societies of all involved countries to guarantee a place and a voice for their youth.


As ALDA, we are actively engaged in supporting youth participation at the local level, standing with our partners to advocate for everyone’s right to participate.


On this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we confront the stark reality of the atrocities inflicted upon countless individuals. Globally, reports of crimes against women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals are mounting, highlighting an urgent protection crisis.

In the chaos of warfare, sexual violence becomes a weapon. Women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals not only endure the horrors of war but also face the heightened risk of gender-based violence, including rape, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and other forms of abuse. These atrocities rob them of their dignity, health, and basic human rights, inflicting both physical and emotional scars.


This violence also erodes the fabric of communities already torn apart by conflict.


The rising reports of crimes against women and children underscore the urgent need for robust protection measures and support services. Too often, the horrors of sexual violence in conflict are shrouded in silence and shame, perpetuated by social stigma, shattered healthcare systems, and the absence of justice. Survivors face immense barriers in accessing the support and services they desperately need, while perpetrators often evade accountability. It is imperative that we prioritize survivors’ safety and ensure they receive the care and support they need to heal and rebuild their lives.

As we mark this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, let us recommit to ending gender-based violence in conflicts worldwide. While we do not focus specifically on this topic, ALDA supports the incredible work of other organisations dedicated to it. Within our Gender, Inclusion, and Human Rights Hub, we concentrate on related issues, such as empowering women in leadership and community project development (Politik-Her project) and strengthening the representation and participation of women in the political and media sphere (We Act Project).


Together, we must stand up for the rights and dignity of women and children, ensuring they are protected from harm and empowered to rebuild their lives in safety and security.


On this day of remembrance and solidarity, let us honor the resilience of survivors and reaffirm our resolve to build a future where sexual violence in conflict is neither tolerated nor ignored.

Together, we must stand up for the rights and dignity of women, girls, and children, ensuring they are protected from harm and empowered to rebuild their lives in safety and security.

ALDA is thrilled to invite you to an enlightening event in Brussels on 20th June 2024, focusing on social post-COVID urban revitalisation. This event, part of the SPUR (Social PostCovid Urban Revitalisation) project funded by the CERV Programme of the European Commission, aims to explore the crucial topic: “What socialisation for elderly and youngsters now, at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic?” The event will take place from 14:30 to 17:00 at L’Orangerie Hap within Jean-Felix Parc in Etterbeek.

The SPUR project is a collaborative initiative involving six European Municipalities: Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani in Italy, Metropolitan City of Milan in Italy, Commune d’Etterbeek in Belgium, Harghita County in Romania, Grad Vodnjan-Dignano in Croatia, and Vila do Conde in Portugal.


The goal is to share best practices for social integration of youngsters and elderly, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds such as migratory, disability, or gender backgrounds.


During the pandemic, many individuals experienced severe isolation, and the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still felt by some. The SPUR project is designed to address these issues. By collecting data through surveys and focus groups, the six partner municipalities aim to identify the actual socialisation needs of their target groups. This data-driven approach will help tailor local pilot activities to foster connection and integration. The project also seeks to identify sustainable solutions for reactivating socialisation in these communities, inspired by acts of solidarity seen during the pandemic.

The event’s programme will include a presentation of the SPUR project, showcasing successful practices during the pandemic from Etterbeek, Città Metropolitana di Milano, Vila do Conde, Harghita County, and Grad Vodnjan-Dignano. This will be followed by a Q&A session and a debate, providing an opportunity for attendees to engage and share their insights. The event will conclude with closing remarks and social drinks, offering a relaxed environment for further networking.

We encourage you and your team to register for this important event. You can sign up using the registration form available in French, Dutch, and English.

This event marks the beginning of SPUR’s journey, and there will be more opportunities for networking and collaboration in the future. The next international event is scheduled for October 2024 in Milan. However, we are particularly excited to see you on 20th June in Etterbeek, where we can come together to discuss and develop strategies for social integration post-pandemic.


For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Alice Grazio at alice.grazio@aldaintranet.org


You can also follow SPUR on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for updates.

We look forward to seeing you there and working together to revitalise social connections within our communities. This event promises to be a significant step towards understanding and addressing the social needs of our elderly and young people in a post-COVID world. Join us in this important conversation and contribute to shaping a more connected and inclusive future!

Alliance multi-stakeholder for Migrants Integration and Labor

AT A GLANCE

The AMIL project aims to promote the sustainable integration of third-country nationals (TCNs) into the labour market by expanding and strengthening the ‘MEIC Migrants Economic Integration Cluster’. This multi-level and multi-stakeholder cluster is intended to enhance coordination among key territorial socio-economic actors, thereby fostering the integration of TCNs into the labour market. The benefits for our target group, migrant people, will be increased employability and socio-economic inclusion.

At EU level, the aim is to disseminate the MEIC model.The project will focus on upscaling established good practices, customizing socio-economic insertion paths at the local level, strengthening national/regional systems for taking charge of target persons, and building the capacities of key actors at the European level. The MEIC model will be disseminated through dissemination activities, including international workshops for stakeholders of several EU Member States.

OBJECTIVES

– Improve the effectiveness of local initiatives for labour market integration of TCNs through the booster and the dissemination of the MEIC methodology.

Increase employability and economic inclusion of TCNs, enhancing and strengthening their professional/soft skills and creating new ones; and testing innovative solutions to boost access to existing labour market inclusion initiatives and instruments shared with the cluster actors.Sp. Obj3 Enhance involvement of key actors in terms of TCNs’ labour market integration. The MEIC model capitalised and actualized will be the focus of workshops that will be held with stakeholders from EU Member States.