The recent International Conference “A Wider European Community: The Importance of Local Governance, A roadmap for the Western Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine on the road for EU accession” was held in Skopje, North Macedonia, on October 19 and 20, 2023.
The two-day event gathered over sixty participants, including government officials, representatives from international and local organisations, diplomats, professors, and experts. They exchanged their views on the challenges and opportunities linked to EU integration in the regions in focus.
Challenges and opportunities linked to EU integration
The conference highlighted the significance of local governance, public involvement, and collaboration in the EU integration process, as key factors in building inclusive, progressive, and peaceful societies.
The participants highlighted the need for effective collaboration and shared initiatives among Western Balkan countries, Moldova and Ukraine to address common challenges and encourage good neighbourly relations, and stressed the importance of regional cooperation in challenging times.
The collaboration between local authorities and civil society organisations was emphasised, suggesting that this partnership, grounded in a shared vision, can bring meaningful changes starting at the local level.
The event concluded with a celebration of 30 years of Local Democracy Agencies in the Western Balkans. The LDAs’ positive impact on stability, development, and democratic governance was showcased, emphasising the success story arising from conflict aftermath towards European integration.
Commitment to societies of inclusion, progress and peace
The conference participants affirmed their commitment to the objectives discussed during the event. Their vision imagines a future where strong local governance contributes to a more inclusive and united European community, with the Western Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine progressing towards EU membership.
The conference promoted cooperation, transparency, and inclusive decision-making for regional growth and successful EU enlargement. As local efforts merge into national and international actions, the empowerment of local democracy remains pivotal in building a brighter European future.
Throughout the event, several speakers and elected and technical representatives of local governments, national and international local authorities, as well as academic and foundation members from both parties met and discussed the framework of regional relationship and cooperation.
Mr. Marco Boaria, Director of Programs and Corporate Strategy at ALDA – the Association for Local Democracy – and CEO of ALDA+, took part in this high-level event, fostering the need to enhance the role of civil society and local authorities in the bi-regional dialogue.
We firmly believe in the active role of local governments and democracy in the renewed EU-CELAC strategy
Together with our members and partners from Barcelona (Spain), we cooperate to improve the connection between both regions and share the common values of democracy and local development.
The event ended with the adaptation of the Final Declaration which emphasised the importance of territories and communities involvement in the New Agenda for Relations between the EU and Latin America.
Furthermore, parties specifically acknowledged “the role of local government associations from the two regions in coordinating and creating alliances in the localisation of the new agenda in order to strengthen the partnership between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean”.
We firmly believe in the active role of local governments and democracy in the renewed EU-CELAC strategy, which is now under the radar of ALDA for its possible contribution and future involvement in the region.
Follow our website to know more about our activities concerning good governance and citizen participation at the local level.
The Council of Europe – Centre of Expertise for Good Governance has taken a significant step in advancing the standards of governance by introducing an enhanced set of “12 Principles of Good Governance.” These principles serve as a benchmark for evaluating and rewarding local governments that exhibit a high level of democratic governance. The assessment is based on these principles, which collectively contribute to fostering democratic governance, upholding human rights, promoting ethical conduct, ensuring accountability, and maintaining efficient administration.
Recently, within the framework of the Project ELoGE, municipalities in North Macedonia and Kosovo* showcased their noteworthy achievements at international conferences held in Skopje and Peja. The presentations served as a platform to highlight the positive strides made by these local governments in aligning themselves with the 12 Principles of Good Governance. The principles, acting as a comprehensive framework, not only facilitate the evaluation of governance practices but also play a crucial role in nurturing democratic values and principles.
The principles set forth by the Council of Europe cover various aspects of governance, providing a holistic approach to assessing the overall performance of local governments. These encompass democratic governance, emphasizing citizen participation and representation, as well as human rights, ensuring that the rights and dignity of all individuals are upheld.
Ethical conduct is another critical dimension addressed by the principles. They underscore the importance of integrity, transparency, and fairness in decision-making processes, laying the foundation for a governance framework built on trust and accountability. The principles further stress the significance of accountability, urging local governments to be transparent in their actions and accountable to their constituents.
Efficient administration is a key pillar of the 12 Principles, emphasizing the need for streamlined and effective governance structures. This includes promoting innovation, optimizing resource allocation, and enhancing the overall efficiency of public administration.
The recent international conferences in Skopje and Peja provided an excellent opportunity for municipalities in North Macedonia and Kosovo* to showcase their commitment to these principles. As part of these efforts, ALDA and LDA Kosovo took a proactive role in promoting the 12 Principles by creating and disseminating a video in English, Macedonian, Albanian. This multilingual approach reflects a commitment to inclusivity and ensures that a diverse audience can engage with and understand the principles.
Looking ahead, the anticipation for upcoming developments in the Project ELoGE in North Macedonia and Kosovo* is palpable. The commitment demonstrated by local governments in aligning with the 12 Principles is a positive sign for the future of governance in these regions. As the ELoGE – European Label of Governance Excellence continues to gain prominence as a program of the Council of Europe’s Centre of Expertise for Good Governance, it is poised to become a beacon for promoting and recognizing excellence in governance practices.
Il Vice Presidente del Consiglio e Ministro degli Affari Esteri, On. Antonio Tajani, si è recentemente espresso in una significativa lettera in occasione della “Conferenza Internazionale sul Sostegno Decentrato alle Comunità Ucraine: Il Ruolo dei Comuni di Media Dimensione e l’Approccio Territoriale,” tenutasi a Vicenza (Italia) il 23 e 24 Novembre 2023. Organizzata da ALDA ed ALDA Italia APS – Associazione di Promozione Sociale, in collaborazione con il Comune di Vicenza, con il supporto di U-LEAD with Europe e Central European Initiative e patrocinata dal Comitato Europeo delle Regioni, la conferenza non ha potuto vantare la presenza fisica del Ministro ma quella virtuale delle sue idee e progetti.
Nella sua lettera, l’Onorevole Tajani ha ringraziato gli organizzatori per l’invito a partecipare a un evento di così grande rilevanza, sottolineando che questa iniziativa si inserisce nel contesto del solido sostegno del Governo italiano all’Ucraina e al suo percorso di ricostruzione, sia materiale che sociale.
Il Ministro ha ribadito il forte impegno dell’Italia al fianco del popolo ucraino, evidenziando un supporto a 360°: militare, umanitario, finanziario ed economico ed annunciando che l’Ucraina sarà uno dei temi prioritari durante la Presidenza italiana del G7 il prossimo anno che prevederà anche una grande conferenza internazionale organizzata nel 2025 in Italia.
Un punto chiave della lettera è stato il riconoscimento del ruolo fondamentale del settore privato in questo processo: il Ministro ha sottolineato la convinzione che l’Italia, con il suo robusto tessuto di piccole e medie imprese, può contribuire in modo significativo a questo obiettivo e a quello della tutela del patrimonio culturale, nell’ambito del quale ha annunciato il patrocinio italiano per la ricostruzione di Odessa, in collaborazione con le Autorità ucraine.
In conclusione, l’On. Antonio Tajani ha espresso la sua soddisfazione per il valore attribuito alle iniziative delle città italiane nella conferenza e ha augurato a tutti i partecipanti un buon lavoro, confermando il forte impegno dell’Italia nel sostenere le comunità ucraine e contribuire alla loro rinascita.
Italy’s Strong Support for Ukrainian Communities: Minister Antonio Tajani’s Message
The Vice President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Antonio Tajani, recently conveyed a significant message on the occasion of the “International Conference on Decentralised Support for Ukrainian Communities: The Role of Medium-Sized Municipalities and the Territorial Approach,” held in Vicenza, Italy, on November 23-24, 2023. Organised by ALDA and ALDA Italia APS, with the support of the Municipality of Vicenza, U-Lead with Europe, the Central European Initiative and patronised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the conference could not boast the physical presence of the Minister but his virtual participation brought forth his ideas and projects.
In his letter, Hon. Tajani expressed gratitude to the organisers for the invitation to participate in an event of such great significance. He emphasised that this initiative is part of the context of the strong support of the Italian Government for Ukraine and its path of reconstruction, both in material and social terms.
The Minister reiterated Italy’s strong commitment alongside the Ukrainian people, highlighting comprehensive support: military, humanitarian, financial, and economic. He announced that Ukraine will be one of the priority themes during the upcoming Italian Presidency of the G7 next year, which will also include a major international conference organised in Italy in 2025.
A key point in the letter was the acknowledgment of the fundamental role of the private sector in this process. The Minister underscored the belief that Italy, with its robust network of small and medium-sized enterprises, can contribute significantly to this goal and to the protection of cultural heritage. Within this framework, he announced Italian sponsorship for the reconstruction of Odesa in collaboration with Ukrainian authorities.
In conclusion, Mr. Antonio Tajani expressed his satisfaction with the value attributed to the initiatives of Italian cities in the conference and wished all participants success, confirming Italy’s strong commitment to supporting Ukrainian communities and contributing to their rebirth.
The ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine is damaging not only the country’s critical infrastructure but also the fundamental structures of Ukrainian society and governance. With incomparable human losses, cities, towns, and amalgamated territorial communities face multiple obstacles in mobilising resources for their resilience and future reconstruction. With its Flagship initiative in 2023, ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy is currently working on expanding the network of Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in Ukraine, as efficient instruments of peace and cohesion, fostering community resilience and supporting decentralised multi-stakeholder cooperation.
Following the principles of the Lugano Declaration, ALDA seeks to support the inclusive recovery of Ukraine and its communities, reinforcing multilateral decentralised cooperation between Ukrainian and EU local democracy actors. Local authorities and civil society are vital in ensuring fair and inclusive reconstruction of the country. Keeping this background in mind and to actively address these issues, for two days, ALDA transformed the city of Vicenza (Italy) into the centre of cooperation for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The Italian city became a meeting point for concrete proposals for the reconstruction of the nation, and the future of its people.
For two days the Italian city of Vicenza became centre of collaboration for the reconstruction of Ukraine
On 23 & 24 November 2023, Italian, European and Ukrainian local authorities took part in the “International Conference on Decentralised support to Ukrainian communities: the role of medium-sized municipalities and the territorial approach“, organised by ALDA and ALDA Italia APS – Associazione per la Promozione Sociale, local organisation of ALDA registered in Vicenza, in cooperation with the Municipality of Vicenza and with the support of U-LEAD with Europe and the Central European Initiative.
The event was attended by over 50 international participants and an equal number of local and national participants who took part in debates and meetings on the opportunities and challenges of Italian and European programmes in the current difficult context of Ukraine, under Russian attack since 2014 and undergoing a massive invasion from February 2022.
Among the numerous speakers, several leading figures from Italian, Ukrainian and international institutions such as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Italian Republic, Yaroslav Melnyk, the Special Envoy from Italy for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, Davide La Cecilia, the Vice-President of the French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and President of the CIVEX Commission of the Committee of the Regions, Patrick Molinoz, the Mayor of Zhytomyr, Sergi Sukhmlyn, the Mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Syenkevych, the Representative of the Central European Initiative, Ugo Poli and the Programmes Director of U-LEAD with Europe, Andrej Horvat.
In addition to the Mayor of Vicenza, Giacomo Possamai, and Deputy Mayor Isabella Sala, other representatives of local and national authorities, such as the Deputy Mayor of Trento and representatives from the world of solidarity and cooperation in the city and region also attended.
The prestigious Conference took place in the beautiful setting of Sala Bernarda of the Municipal Council on November 23rd, and of the Hotel De La Ville, on November 24th. An event of considerable importance for the city, which also allows us to reflect on the role played by Italy and its local and regional authorities in facing the humanitarian emergency caused by the Russian aggression in the Ukrainian territory.
A public event has also been carried out during the evening of 23 November in cooperation with the Centro di Servizio per il Volontariato della provincia di Vicenza (CSV). The event aimed at meeting stories and protagonists of solidarity from Vicenza and beyond, accompanying the testimonies with beautiful songs of Italian and Ukrainian culture.
Among the topics covered during the two days: the role and action of local and regional communities in Ukraine’s reconstruction; support, solidarity and cooperation between territories; the establishment of seven new Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in the country as tools for community cohesion and development as part of ALDA’s Flagship Initiative for the Reconstruction of Ukraine;and the cooperation between medium-sized cities for sustainable recovery.
“Following the principles of the Lugano Declaration and the conclusion of the Donors’ Conference for Ukraine, as enshrined in the Ukraine Facility programme (the European Marshall plan for Ukraine), ALDA seeks to support the inclusive recovery of Ukraine and its communities by strengthening multilateral decentralised cooperation between local democracy actors from Ukraine and the European Union“. – says Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General – Local authorities and civil society are key instruments to ensure a fair and inclusive reconstruction. Therefore, ALDA is committed to actively support them. These instruments must be the basis from which to achieve peace and reconstruction in Ukraine. The fate of this country is that of all of us. Six months before the European Parliament elections we must know how to reaffirm that Europe stands for democracy and human rights, in Ukraine and everywhere in the world‘ Valmorbida continues.
As ALDA, we hope that these two days of debates and proposals can be the springboard for an even more concrete engagement in the reconstruction of Ukraine. Only through cooperation and joint efforts will we succeed in building a peaceful and democratic future for the country and its people.
In an online meeting held on November 20, 2023, ALDA’s Governing Board welcomed new members and delved into key initiatives. The meeting addressed significant developments and set the stage for impactful collaborations.
The Board reflected on the monumental opening of the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Odesa in Ukraine, attended by ALDA’s Secretariat, the Ukraine Task Force, Mr. Oriano Otocan, ALDA President, Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, and Mr. Alessandro Perelli, ALDA Vice President. The event marked a crucial step in ALDA’s Flagship Initiative for Ukraine, emphasising cooperation and sustainable community development. Anticipation surrounds the upcoming Vicenza Conference “Decentralised Support for Ukrainian Communities: The Role of Municipalities, Local Communities and the Territorial Approach”, where ALDA and ALDA Italia APS, in collaboration with the Municipality of Vicenza, and with the support of U-LEAD with Europe and the Central European Initiative, are organising a high-profile event to address the role of solidarity and volunteering in supporting Ukrainian communities.
The meeting showcased ALDA’s commitment to expanding its network with the approval of new members
Les Têtes de l’Art, France: A Marseille-based nonprofit promoting participative art practices, emphasising diversity and collaboration, aligning with ALDA’s values.
Institute for Albanian Municipalities, Albania: A dynamic organisation seeking new collaborations and networking opportunities, focusing on studies and publications for municipal development.
ASMEL Associazione, Italy: With a focus on gathering local bodies, ASMEL aims to create standards for municipalities, seeking collaboration for promoting participative democracy.
Kremenchuk City Territorial Community, Ukraine: Represented by Deputy Head Kateryna Musienko, the community seeks networking opportunities and cooperation, especially in addressing the challenges posed by displaced populations and potential future negotiations.
Human Rights Cities Network, Belgium: Advocating for human rights as the foundation for every city, the organisation aims to disseminate the human rights cities model with the support of ALDA’s network.
Approval of New Members
Following detailed presentations, all new members were unanimously approved by the Governing Board, paving the way for strengthened partnerships and collaborative initiatives.
ALDA continues to evolve as a dynamic platform fostering cooperation, inclusivity, and sustainable development, with these new members contributing valuable perspectives and expertise.
Stay tuned for more updates on ALDA’s impactful initiatives and expanding network.
To learn more about the ALDA membership and its benefits, check out the Membership Infopack and/or contact us to email@example.com
“If tomorrow it’s me, if tomorrow I don’t come back, mom, destroy everything.
If tomorrow it’s my turn, I want to be the last.“
Cristina Torre Cáceres
November 25th signifies more than just another day on the calendar; it marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since 1981, this date has been recognised as a crucial moment to confront and eradicate gender-based violence. It honours the Mirabal sisters, Dominican Republic activists who, in 1960, faced a tragic fate at the hands of Rafael Trujillo.
This day is a loud call to recognise the multi-dimensional nature of violence against women. From intimate partner violence to sexual assault, child abuse, forced marriages, street harassment, and more – the spectrum is alarmingly broad. These atrocities are structurally rooted in patriarchal systems, where women have historically been subjugated to inferior roles, shackled by societal norms that relegate them to domestic spheres, and systematically strip away their agency.
Despite strides toward gender equality, the persistent shadow of antiquated norms continues to cast a dark pall over our contemporary society. Women, when daring to challenge the status quo, often face dire consequences, with mortal outcomes. It’s not merely about ‘not all men’ but about acknowledging the systemic underpinnings that allow such violence to persist. Men who truly advocate for change must actively work against behaviours that perpetuate women’s dehumanisation, subjugation, and eventually killing.
Moreover, structural change remains difficult to achieve. Shockingly, a mere 5% of government aid is allocated to combating violence against women, with a paltry 0.2% dedicated to prevention efforts. Education stands as a critical battleground where gender equality must triumph. Women seeking support from institutions when they bravely speak out are frequently met with blame and disbelief, leading to underreporting and an obscured reality of the gravity of the issue.
The question arises: Is a single international day adequate to address the deep-rooted factors fuelling such violence? Prevention and awareness should be fundamental goals woven into the fabric of governance. Only through a concerted effort can we create a world where women’s rights, including the fundamental right to life, are unequivocally recognised.
ALDA stands for eliminating violence against women and has a thematic hub dedicated to Gender Equality, Inclusion, and Human Rights. One of the main actions has been the drafting and implementation of the Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Policy. Besides, with projects like POLITIK-HER, the association strives to make an impact to engage young women in the decision-making system and be the direct agents of change.
In conclusion, while November 25th stands as a symbolic reminder, the fight against gender-based violence transcends a mere day. It necessitates a perpetual commitment from governments, institutions, and individuals alike to dismantle the structures that allow such atrocities to persist and ensure a world where women are truly free from fear and violence.
ALDA+, the benefit corporation owned by ALDA – the Association for Local Democracy, continues its commitment to providing training and technical assistance globally, targeting diverse stakeholders, including local authorities and civil society.
Indeed, on 15 November 2023, a workshop titled “Fundraising and NON-EU Funding” was held in Prague (Czech Republic), with the aim of exploring and improving understanding of fundraising from private donors and showing best practices for effective collaboration.
Hosted by the Agora Central Europe Association – a civic organisation fostering communication between local governments, central government bodies and citizens – (#ALDAmember) the training served as a platform to learn techniques for monitoring relevant resources and preparing successful projects.
Throughout the session, several practical examples illustrated how partnerships can serve as gateways to new ideas, projects, collaborations, and growth.
Support of civil society, capacity building and skills promotion are core elements of ALDA and ALDA+
During the event, Mr. Marco Boaria, CEO of ALDA+ and Director of programmes and corporate strategy in ALDA, shared the Association’s experience in fundraising and non-EU funding strategies, focusing on the key phases of the process:
Preliminary scouting: analysing databases and newsletters
Monitoring: developing an action plan
Approach of potential donors: studying, initiating contact, first submission, and feedback
Drafting a strategy: outlining the project’s timeframe, activities, budget, support, and attractiveness
The workshop not only offered insights into these phases but also provided participants with tips, considerations, and project examples in order to facilitate the learning process.
The support of civil society, capacity building and skills promotion remain at the core of ALDA and ALDA+ mission.
Stay updated on ALDA’s initiatives and opportunities by following our activities closely.
In a momentous occasion, ALDA proudly declared the official opening of Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Odesa in Ukraine, marking not only a historic milestone for Odesa but also coinciding with the celebration of 30 years of Local Democracy Agencies in the Balkans. This landmark event symbolises a significant stride in advancing ALDA’s vision of resilient, inclusive, and sustainable communities.
LDA Odesa stands tall as a symbol of hope for local communities, embodying the collaborative efforts of local governments in Ukraine and European Union member states
The initiative is poised to fortify the reconstruction and development of communities in the city, and in the entire country, through cooperative projects jointly crafted by Ukrainian and EU partners.
The opening ceremony of the Local Democracy Agency Odesa, held on November 17, 2023, at the House of Receptions of the Odesa Regional Council, witnessed the presence of distinguished figures such as Mr. Vitaly Barvinenko, Chairman of the Odesa Rayon Council, Mr. Marc Cools, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Mr. Patrick Molinoz, Vice-president of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Chair of the CIVEX Commission of the Committee of the Regions (online), Mr. Oriano Otočan, ALDA President, Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, Ms. Inna Volkova, Member of the Odesa Rayon Council and ALDA Advisory Board and many more!
Beyond being an inaugural event, the launch of LDA Odesa is a promise for a brighter future for the city and Ukraine as a whole. This initiative not only addresses immediate needs but envisions a more secure and prosperous future for the people of Ukraine, especially during these challenging times.
In the midst of the ongoing war in Ukraine, LDAs, with their commitment to cooperation, community cohesion, and sustainable development, continue to provide essential support, serving as instruments of peace and solidarity. This milestone has been made possible through key partnerships, including the Odesa Rayon Council (UA), Foster Europe Foundation (AT), represented by Mr. Stefan Lutgenau, Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (🇮🇹), represented by ALDA Vice President, Alessandro Perelli, and Istria Region (HR), represented by ALDA President, Mr. Oriano Otočan and Ms. Jessica Acquavita, vice president of the Region.
Crucially, this initiative marks the inaugural step toward establishing seven new Local Democracy Agencies in Ukraine, aligning with the ambitious ALDA Flagship Initiative. The establishment of these LDAs holds the potential to redefine local democracy in Ukraine, contributing to fostering resilient, inclusive, and sustainable communities throughout the nation.
The opening session featured Mr. Barvinenko‘s welcome words, highlighting the significance of LDA Odesa in promoting local democracy. Mr. Otočan expressed happiness and commitment to the partnership, emphasising the serious path LDA Odesa is taking in promoting local democracy.
Online participants, including Mr. Marc Cools, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, testified to ALDA’s commitment to local development and democracy, especially in challenging times. He extended his congratulations to ALDA for commendable initiative, expressing confidence in the expertise in fostering the development of local democracy agencies. With ALDA’s invaluable assistance, societal progress is sure to follow: “…This opening also testifies to the commitment of ALDA, but also of all its partners and of all the countries in the European family, in advancing democracy, local governance and civic participation in Ukraine, despite the harsh conditions of war.”
Mr. Patrick Molinoz, President of the CIVEX Committee, Vice-president of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Chair of the CIVEX Commission of the Committee of the Regions thanked ALDA for the networking operations with Ukrainian municipalities. It is an important link between local and regional authorities in Europe and especially in Ukraine: “We are looking forward to more partnerships, it is a need. It is also an important thing to develop the communication inside Ukraine in itself.”
Ms. Inna Volkova, Member of the Odesa Rayon Council, connected the event to the European Commission’s document related to the Enlargement package, emphasising the role of regional authorities in promoting necessary aspects for negotiations.
Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, presented the ALDA initiative and its significance in supporting democratic aspirations. The event included the Signature of the Memorandum of Understanding of LDA Odesa and concluded with the presentations from NGOs in the Odesa Region, reflecting a sense of hope, commitment, and anticipation for the positive impact of LDA Odesa on the region’s development and democracy.
Mr. Bartek Ostrowski, Coordinator of the Task Force for Ukraine of ALDA and Ms. Katica Janeva, ALDA Skopje Office Director and Balkans Coordinator, together with Ms. Khrystyna Kvartsyana, ALDA Representative in Ukraine also participated in this important event.
This ceremony marked the beginning of a new chapter for Odesa Region and its journey toward resilient, inclusive, and sustainable communities. The various presentations and discussions reflected the collaborative spirit and shared commitment of all stakeholders involved.
Stay tuned for further updates on this extraordinary journey towards a future of greater cooperation, stronger local democracy, and enduring partnerships.
On 15th November 2023, LDA Kosovo organised a conference in the Municipality of Peja (Kosovo), centred around the European Label of Governance Excellence Programme, funded by the Council of Europe, and marking the 30 years of Local Democracy Agencies in the Western Balkans.
Titled “Successful Story from Conflict Aftermath Toward European Integration,” panelists, including Ms. Xhenet Syka, Director of the Municipal Department for Culture, Youth, and Sports in the Municipality of Peja, Mr. Maurizio Camin, Director of Associazione Trentino con i Balcani, and Mr. Vullnet Sanaja, Director of Anibar, discussed their collaboration with the LDAs. They highlighted their longstanding partnership with LDA Kosovo, dating back to before its official opening in 2011. The panel was moderated by Ms. Sanja Trpkovska project manager working in ALDA Skopje Office.
Conference participants and guests took a retrospective journey, delving into implemented projects and their impact on the citizens of Peja. ALDA and LDA Kosovo have played a pivotal role in constructing bridges between municipalities, advocating for good governance and local democracy not just in Kosovo but across the entire Balkan region. This task was not always straightforward, given the evolving society; however, the outcomes are evident, showcased by the robust connections formed through partnerships between organisations and local authorities.
These collaborations will persist in the future, forging even stronger ties between citizens of the Balkans, the EU Neighborhood, and beyond.
On 15th November 2023, the LDA Kosovo organised a conference in the Municipality of Peja (Kosovo), focusing on the First Phase of the European Label of Governance Excellence Programme, with anticipation for the Second Phase.
Mr. Arber Vokrri, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Local Government Administration, andMr. Tankut Soykan, Deputy Head of the Office in Prishtina, Council of Europe, welcomed the guests and underscored the significance of the ELoGE Programme for municipalities.
Mr. Gazmend Muhaxheri, Mayor of the Municipality of Peja, and Mr. Besnik Shala, representing the Municipality of Shtime, discussed the project phases. They shared their accomplishments, identified areas for improvement, and highlighted ELoGE’s role in enhancing the understanding of municipal performance and the positive impact of good local governance on citizens.
The conference provided a platform for insightful discussions on the ELoGE Program’s objectives and its contribution to achieving better governance practices at the local level. It served as a valuable opportunity for municipalities to reflect on their performance and consider ways to further improve their services for the benefit of their citizens.
The PEACE Education project was funded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ programme and developed by 7 partners from four different countries: France, Türkiye, Portugal, and Slovenia. The project aims to create an inclusive learning environment and to reduce violence in schools. To this end, tools have been implemented to provide the necessary skills to teachers and other educators to integrate Peace education into their teaching experiences.
The first tool is the OOC (Open Online Course), which contains 5 modules developed through a needs analysis as a first step for teachers and workers in general who work with young people aged 12-18. The goal is to include Peace Education and establish inclusive education, nondiscrimination, and non-violence. This training will be complemented by an ongoing exchange of valuable teaching methods among teachers through an Online Teachers Community (OTC), aspiring to evolve into a multilateral beneficial network.
The open online course and the online community will be freely accessible, allowing teachers, youth workers, and other users to find extensive materials about pertinent themes and skills.
Visit the PEACE education website to learn about how this project developed, a presentation of the consortium, and the e-handbook with a needs analysis in the four countries.
Register for the Open Online Course here and join the Online Community here.
After navigating and using these tools, your feedback is really appreciated, you can provide it here.
To disseminate the project results thoroughly, ALDA visited various institutions to present the PEACE project. From 6th-grade students to the Rectorate of Strasbourg, PEACE aroused great interest among various stakeholders. For example, during the visit to Notre Dame de Sion Middle-school in Strasbourg, ALDA talked about the project in front of a 6th-grade class (and how it fits into the idea of civil European construction) and facilitated a workshop with them about the importance of non-violent communication and active listening, key elements of peace education.
Media4EU – Civil Society Program for media participation in North Macedonia’s EU membership negotiation is a project implemented by Eurothink in partnership with ALDA and BIRC.
One of the latest activities involved the presentation of the public opinion survey “Eurometer 2023,” focusing on the perception and attitudes of citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia regarding the socio-political situation in the country.
The Eurometer 2023 was unveiled during a press conference on October 24, along with a brief promotional video for the project.
Summary of Results
The methodology considers data trends from 2014 to 2023. Recent data were collected from a sample of 1003 respondents (18 years old and above) between the 4th and the 21st of September 2023, based on variables such as ethnicity, regions, and settlement (village/city).
The survey themes encompass democracy in RNM, relations with the EU, foreign policy, trust in institutions, EU topics, citizens, and sources of information.
Democracy in the Republic of Macedonia
Overall, the number of respondents who believe that there is no democracy, and things are moving entirely in the wrong direction in the country has decreased since December 2022, although it remains at 56%, significantly higher than November 2021 when the percentage was 40%. Graphs indicate that the percentage of people who believe that democracy is moving in a positive direction increased from 9% in 2022 to 15.60% in 2023.
Relations between North Macedonia and the European Union
In general, trust in European Union membership has increased, especially with a high percentage of Albanians expressing willingness to join, with 90% of the population considering it a positive move. Education doesn’t significantly influence this perception, as the percentage of people who trust the process is more or less the same. However, the urban environment tends to be more critical of the European Union, with 36% of respondents believing it would not be a good thing, compared to 29% in rural areas.
The European Union is primarily seen as a dominant economic factor (28.5%), a political community (23.1%), and a Union based on rules and regulations (20%). A better standard of living is also cited as the main reason for supporting EU entry (47.7%). Concerns about losing national identity represent the primary reason for refusal, along with lower unemployment and a greater emphasis on democracy.
Moreover, following the peak in 2022 regarding belief in the European Union’s unfair and arrogant attitude towards Macedonia, trust and the perception of a friendly and fair relationship increased from 17% to 27.5%. It remains the best alternative for 60% of the surveyed population. However, fewer and fewer people believe that Macedonia can join the European Union in the next five years, reaching the lowest point this year at 10.2%, despite more than 40% of respondents expecting entry within five years just in the winter of 2021.
The most significant percentage of respondents who perceive a threat believe that, at this moment, it is Bulgaria (79%). This response is most common among ethnic Macedonians (85.1%) and supporters of VMRO-DPMNE (89.7%) and SDSM (80.4%). The second mentioned “threat” is Russia (6.3%), particularly after the events in Ukraine. This response is more prevalent among younger respondents and those of Albanian nationality.
Source of Information
Obtaining information through the Internet (56%) and through TV (43%) are the two most common ways of gathering political news among respondents. 10% claim to be uninformed, and 13% obtain information through friends and family. Social networks emerge as the highest-ranked source (most important) for political information, securing 87% of the maximum possible score (100%). Online portals are significantly lower in rank, with only 24% of the total score. Online platforms of existing radio stations or TV channels are rated with only 7% of points earned.
EU Topics and Citizens
All topics related to EU membership are considered essential by respondents, with the judiciary and fundamental rights standing out, where 54% believe they are crucial for the accession process and 52% emphasize their significance.
Justice, Freedom, and Security
More than half of the respondents highlight the Judiciary and fundamental rights and Justice, freedom, and security as “extremely important.” The “lowest” percentage (29%) considers the free movement of goods as “extremely important.” The topics that respondents consider most important for society align with those deemed crucial for them as citizens, with minor variations in answers.
In a world where collaboration and participation stand at the forefront of community development, ALDA takes a significant stride forward with its upcoming event – the Membership Days. Tailored exclusively for ALDA members and potential members, this dynamic initiative serves as a gateway to explore the diverse facets of ALDA’s work, network possibilities, and equips participants with the essential tools to venture into the realm of citizens’ participation and inclusion.
Format: A blend of in-person and online webinars and training sessions.
Eligibility: Exclusive to ALDA members and potential members already in touch with ALDA staff to embark in the adhesion process, ensuring a community of like-minded individuals passionate about local democracy and citizen engagement.
Language: The working language for the event is English, fostering a global dialogue among participants. Working language of the open day in Vicenza will be Italian.
Online Connection: A link to connect online will be sent a few days before the registered event(s).
Registration: ALDA members and potential members can register by filling out the registration form.
Monday, 27 November 2023 – In presence
Meet ALDA: Vicenza open day!
Location: ALDA Office in Vicenza, Viale Milano 36, Vicenza (IT)
Time: 14:30-17:30 CET
Highlights: Explore ALDA’s Vicenza office, engage with ALDA staff, and delve into the various activities and thematic hubs. The event includes welcoming words by ALDA’s Secretary General, Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, and the Director of Programmes and Corporate Strategy, Mr. Marco Boaria, followed by a showcase of ALDA’s activities and thematic hubs, concluding with a friendly networking aperitivo.
Tuesday, 28 November 2023 – Online Sessions
Discover the activities related to Thematic Hubs of ALDA!
Presentation of ALDA’s “Gender Equality & Anti Discrimination policy”: 14:30-15:30 CET.
Dissemination of ALDA’s Gender Equality and Anti-Discrimination Policy among members.
Training on e-Democracy and online participation: 16:00-17:30 CET.
A hands-on session showcasing the potential of e-democracy and e-participation tools.
Wednesday 29 November – Online Session
ALDA Members in Action!
Subgrantees of ALDA’s Operating Grant 2023: Their Experiences (14:00-16:00 CET): ALDA members who received subgrants in 2023 share their experiences and the impactful actions facilitated by ALDA’s Operating Grant.
Mentre l’aggressione russa contro l’Ucraina continua a infliggere gravi danni alle nazione ed alla sua popolazione, la necessità di un sostegno decentrato e di sforzi collaborativi da parte dei comuni e delle comunità locali non è mai stata così necessaria. Riconoscendo l’urgenza della situazione, ALDA ha intrapreso un’importante iniziativa nel 2023 per espandere la propria rete di Agenzie della Democrazia Locale (ADL) in Ucraina. Questo sforzo mira a migliorare la resilienza delle comunità e a promuovere la cooperazione decentrata tra più soggetti.
L’iniziativa di ALDA si allinea ai principi della Dichiarazione di Lugano, che sottolinea l’importanza della ripresa inclusiva e della cooperazione decentrata tra gli attori della democrazia locale ucraini e dell’Unione Europea. Questo approccio riconosce il ruolo centrale delle autorità locali e della società civile nel garantire una ricostruzione equa ed inclusiva della nazione.
L’Ucraina è al centro dell’impegno di ALDA dal 2014, con la creazione di due ADL, una a Dnipro nel 2015 e una a Mariupol nel 2017 (ora operante da Kyiv). Nel corso degli anni, ALDA ha sostenuto attivamente queste ADL, coinvolgendole in progetti di cooperazione transnazionale incentrati sulla buona governance, la partecipazione civica, la formazione e il rafforzamento delle capacità delle autorità locali. Le ADL di Dnipro e Mariupol sono state fondamentali per rispondere alle esigenze locali, soprattutto dopo l’inizio dell’invasione su larga scala nel febbraio 2022.
Nel giugno 2022, il Consiglio direttivo di ALDA ha deciso di ampliare questo approccio istituendo nuove ADL in varie città dell’Ucraina, tra cui Odesa, Vinnytsia, Bucha, Rivne, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv e Lviv, nell’ambito dell’ambiziosa iniziativa faro dell’Associazione in Ucraina.
Conferenza internazionale sul sostegno decentrato alle comunità ucraine a Vicenza (Italia) il 23 e 24 novembre 2023
In un impegno continuo per promuovere e sostenere la ricostruzione dell’Ucraina e la ripresa della sua popolazione, ALDA, ALDA Italia APS e il Comune di Vicenza organizzano una prestigiosa Conferenza internazionale sul sostegno decentrato alle comunità ucraine a Vicenza (Italia) il 23 e 24 novembre 2023.
L’evento si svolgerà nella splendida cornice della Sala Bernarda del Comune di Vicenza, il 23 novembre, e dell’Hotel De La Ville, il 24 novembre.
La “Conferenza internazionale sul sostegno decentrato alle comunità ucraine: Il ruolo dei Comuni, delle comunità locali e dell’approccio territoriale“, sarà l’occasione per riflettere sul ruolo assunto dall’Italia e dalle sue autorità locali e regionali nell’affrontare l’emergenza umanitaria causata dall’aggressione russa sul territorio ucraino. Si tratterà di due giorni di incontri e dibattiti di alto livello che coinvolgeranno diversi rappresentanti delle istituzioni locali, europee e internazionali, nonché esponenti della società civile, per proporre la cooperazione tra città e tra comunità locali come strumento efficace di peace building e di ricostruzione sostenibile e duratura dell’Ucraina.
Organizzata in collaborazione con il Comune di Vicenza e con il sostegno del Central European Initiative e di U-LEAD with Europe, la Conferenza Int. vedrà la presenza di oltre 50 partecipanti internazionali e di altrettanti partecipanti locali e nazionali, tra cui diverse figure di spicco delle istituzioni italiane, ucraine e internazionali, come il sindaco di Vicenza, Giacomo Possamai, l’inviato speciale dell’Italia per la ricostruzione dell’Ucraina, Davide La Cecilia, il vicepresidente della regione Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, il Presidente della Commissione CIVEX del Comitato delle Regioni, Patrick Molinoz, il Vicepresidente della Commissione Difesa della Camera dei Deputati, Onorevole Piero Fassino, il Sindaco di Mykolai (Ucraina), Oleksandr Syenkevych, il sindaco di Zhytomyr (Ucraina), Sergiy Sukhomlyn, il rappresentante della Central European Initiative, Ugo Poli, il direttore dei programmi di U-LEAD with Europe, Andrej Horvat, l’europarlamentare, Alessandra Moretti (online).
Saranno presenti anche rappresentanti delle autorità locali, come il vicesindaco di Trento, e della solidarietà e cooperazione della città e della regione.
In occasione dell’evento e su proposta di ALDA, si inaugura a Vicenza un percorso di valorizzazione e capitalizzazione della cooperazione delle città e delle comunità, un approccio dal basso, per il futuro dell’Ucraina ma che può essere designato come linea guida per altri scenari in fasi di stabilizzazione e sviluppo. Questo programma propone la Dichiarazione di Vicenza, che farà da base a questo modello di collaborazione, e che verrà approvata al termine dei lavori e permetterà di proseguire con il patto di amicizia tra le città di Vicenza e Zhytomyr.
ALDA è orgogliosa di far parte di questa prestigiosa iniziativa e si impegna, insieme ai suoi partner, a garantire la massima fruizione possibile e successo a livello locale ed internazionale.
L’agenda dell’evento sarà pubblicata sul sito web nei prossimi giorni. Restate sintonizzati per ulteriori aggiornamenti!
As the Russian aggression against Ukraine continues to inflict severe damage on the country’s infrastructure and society, the need for decentralised support and collaborative efforts from municipalities and local communities has never been more critical. Recognising the urgency of the situation, ALDA has embarked on a significant initiative in 2023 to expand its network of Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in Ukraine. This endeavour aims to enhance community resilience and promote decentralised multi-stakeholder cooperation.
ALDA’s initiative aligns with the principles of the Lugano Declaration, which emphasises the importance of inclusive recovery and decentralised cooperation between Ukrainian and EU local democracy actors. This approach recognises the pivotal roles that local authorities and civil society play in ensuring fair and inclusive reconstruction.
Ukraine has been the focus of ALDA’s engagement since 2014, with the establishment of two LDAs, one in Dnipro in 2015 and one in Mariupol in 2017 (now operating from Kyiv). Over the years, ALDA has actively supported these LDAs, involving them in transnational cooperation projects that focus on good governance, civic participation, training, and capacity-building for local authorities. The LDAs in Dnipro and Mariupol have been crucial in addressing local needs, especially since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
In June 2022, ALDA’s Governing Board made the decision to scale up this approach by establishing new LDAs in various cities across Ukraine, including Odesa, Vinnytsia, Bucha, Rivne, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv as part of the ambitious Flagship Initiative in Ukraine of the Association.
International Conference on Decentralised Support for Ukrainian Communities in Vicenza (Italy) on 23 & 24 November, 2023
In a continuous effort to promote and support the reconstruction of Ukraine and the recovery of its population, ALDA, ALDA Italia APS and the Municipality of Vicenza are organising a prestigious International Conference on Decentralised Support for Ukrainian Communities in Vicenza (Italy) on 23 & 24 November, 2023.
The event will take place in the splendid setting of the Sala Bernarda of the City Council, on 23 November, and the Hotel De La Ville, on 24 November.
The “International Conference on Decentralised Support for Ukrainian Communities: The Role of Municipalities, local communities and the Territorial Approach”, will provide an opportunity to reflect on the role assumed by Italy and its local and regional authorities in addressing the humanitarian emergency caused by Russian aggression on Ukrainian territory. It will consist of two days of high-level meetings and debates involving various representatives of local, European and international institutions, as well as representatives of civil society, to propose cooperation between cities and between local communities as an effective tool for peace building and sustainable and lasting reconstruction of Ukraine.
Organised in collaboration with the Municipality of Vicenza and with the support of the Central European Initiative and U-LEAD with Europe, the Int. Conference will be attended by more than 50 international participants and an equal number of local and national participants, among which several leading figures from Italian, Ukrainian and international institutions, such as the Mayor of Vicenza, Giacomo Possamai, the Special Envoy from Italy for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, Davide La Cecilia, the Vice-President of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, President of the CIVEX Commission of the Committee of the Regions, Patrick Molinoz the Vice-President of the Defence Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the Honourable Piero Fassino, the Mayor of Mykolai (Ukraine), Oleksandr Syenkevych, the Mayor of Zhytomyr (Ukraine), Sergiy Sukhomlyn, the Representative of the Central European Initiative, Ugo Poli, the Director of Programmes of U-LEAD with Europe, Andrej Horvat, the MEP, Alessandra Moretti (online).
Representatives of local authorities such as the Deputy Mayor of Trento, and of solidarity and cooperation from the city and region will also be present.
On the occasion of the event and at the proposal of ALDA, a path will be inaugurated in Vicenza to enhance and capitalise on the cooperation of cities and communities, a bottom up approach, for the future of Ukraine but which can be designated as a guideline for other scenarios in stages of stabilisation and development. This programme proposes the Declaration of Vicenza, which will form the basis of this model of cooperation, and which will be approved at the end of the work and allow the friendship pact between the cities of Vicenza and Zhytomyr to continue.
ALDA is proud to be a part of this prestigious initiative and is committed, together with its partners, to ensuring the widest possible use and success locally and internationally.
The Agenda of the event will be published on the website in the next few days. Stay tuned for updates from this crucial conference!
In a groundbreaking move towards gender equality and inclusive governance, the WE ACT project has kicked off its comprehensive Training programme for Women Politicians and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Türkiye. This initiative, funded by the European Union and spearheaded by ALDA and its local partner Daktilo1984, is dedicated to enhancing political and civic rights for women and the LGBTIQ+ community, particularly at the local level. More specifically, the project aims at increasing the political participation of women in the upcoming 2024 local elections across the seven regions of Türkiye while fostering a democratic debate on gender issues at the local policy level, striving for progress in every corner of the country.
On November 11, the project marked a significant milestone with the commencement of the Training programme. Simultaneous sessions unfolded in Istanbul, focusing on Political and Media training for Women Politicians, and in Ankara, launching the Capacity Building and Coaching program on Participatory Democracy for Women candidates and CSOs representatives.
The impact of the WE ACT Training programme is set to resonate across Türkiye, with both Political and Media training and the Capacity Building and Coaching program on Participatory Democracy running throughout November and December. 18 training sessions will unfold simultaneously in six key cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Van, Gaziantep, and Adana. Around 150 participants – both Women Politicians from all political backgrounds and CSOs representatives – from all over Türkiye will converge to learn, share experiences, and contribute to the project’s overarching objectives.
This dual-pronged approach aims to achieve significant milestones.
Firstly, by preparing women politicians for the upcoming 2024 municipal elections, the program seeks to reinforce their skills and readiness for political campaigns. Simultaneously, the training program will allow the empowerment of CSOs working on gender-related issues. Through participation to the Programme, CSOs will gain insights into the obstacles women face in local governance and enhance their practices in participatory democracy, allowing them to act more efficiently in local decision-making processes and advocate for the voices of women and LGBTIQ+ communities.
The WE ACT project marks a commitment to positive change and an inclusive political landscape. As the training program unfolds across Türkiye, it promises to create a ripple effect, encouraging a more equitable and participatory community environment. The journey towards empowerment has begun, transcending boundaries and ensuring that every voice has a meaningful role in shaping the future of communities.
Stay tuned for updates as WE ACT paves the way for a more inclusive and empowered society:
In a significant stride towards bolstering local democracy, ALDA and the entire Local Democracy Agency’s family are proud to announce the establishment of the LDA Odesa in Ukraine. Scheduled for November 17, 2023, this milestone event underscores the pivotal role of LDA Odesa in advancing ALDA’s overarching vision of resilient, inclusive, and sustainable communities across Europe and beyond.
LDA Odesa is not just another chapter in the network’s expansion but a beacon of hope for local communities in Odesa. Through the collaborative efforts of local governments in Ukraine and European Union member states, this endeavour aims to support the reconstruction and development of local communities in the city.
This ambitious objective will be brought to fruition through cooperation projects jointly designed by Ukrainian and EU partners. The establishment of LDA Odesa takes on an organisational form as a new non-governmental organisation (NGO) under Ukrainian law, regulated by a Memorandum of Understanding.
The inauguration of LDA Odesa is an extremely important achievement that could not have been possible without the cooperation with key partners
Among the expected participants in the event there are Mr. Vitaly Barvinenko, Chairman of the Odesa Rayon Council, Mr. Marc Cools, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Ms. Yuliia Molodozhen, Regional Office of U-LEAD with Europe in the Odesa Oblast, Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, and Ms. Inna Volkova, member of the Odesa Rayon Council and member of the ALDA Advisory Board.
The launch of LDA Odesa is more than just an event; it is a promise of a brighter future for Odesa and Ukraine as a whole. This initiative is not just a commitment to address immediate needs but a vision for a brighter and more secure future for the people of Ukraine. In these challenging times, LDAs continue to be a beacon of hope and support, emphasising the power of cooperation, community cohesion, and sustainable development, representing instruments of cohesion and peace.
As the war in Ukraine persists, these efforts remain essential, as they provide a lifeline for local communities and serve as a testament to the strength of collective, cooperative action during times of adversity.
Moreover, this marks the first step towards the establishment of seven new Local Democracy Agencies in the country, in line with the ambitious ALDA Flagship Initiative. The realisation of these LDAs holds the potential to redefine local democracy in Ukraine and contribute to the broader mission of fostering resilient, inclusive, and sustainable communities throughout the nation.
Stay tuned for further updates on this remarkable journey towards a future of greater cooperation, stronger local democracy, and enduring partnerships.
Council of Europe 1
Avenue de l'Europe