resilience

ALDA General Assembly 2022: Institutions, Local Authorities, members and delegates all united for peace, democracy and resilience

A sunny Strasbourg welcomed the Governing Board members, the delegates of the Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs), members and colleagues of ALDA for the Association’s most important event of the year, ALDA General Assembly 2022, and related events.

 

Indeed, from May 5th to 7th, the network of ALDA gathered together, for the first in-presence Assembly since 2019, for 3 days of conferences, trainings and round-tables, culminating on 6 May 2022 with the ALDA General Assembly, entitled  “Podrška lokalnoj demokratiji, podrška miru i otpornosti društva". 

Moreover, this 3-day occurrence took place within the framework of the Strasbourg Summit, underlying ALDA’s involvement and commitment in the Conference of the Future of Europe and its follow-ups.

 

No words can explain the thrilling and enthusiastic atmosphere of the moment, smiling faces and happy chats all over the hall of Region Grand-Est Headquarters, main venue of the Assembly. The conclusion of the Konferencija o budućnosti Evrope and the current war in Ukraine were not only at the centre of the Assembly, but also among colleagues, friends and delegates’ topics of discussion. 

Gathered all together in the Hemicycle room, Gospodin Oriano Otočan, President of ALDA, posed a question to the whole audience: “who would have said that a city in Ukraine, where ALDA established the Local Democracy Agency, would become a symbol of resistance to terror?” Nobody could answer. Nobody has an answer to it. Nonetheless, President Otočan recalled that “the first Local democracy agencies were established in the former Yugoslavia following the war period as a support of the Council of Europe for the establishment of peace, tolerance, and the democratic development of the society at the local level”. There is, in other words, a peaceful answer to war times as demonstrated by the history of ALDA itself.


As recalled by President Otočan there is  a peaceful answer to war times as demonstrated by the history of ALDA itself, in its path towards democracy and resilience


The necessity of peace, and support to civilians in Ukraine was expressed by  CEI gdin. Christian Debève, Regional Councillor and President of the Cross-Border Outreach, Europe and International Relations Commission, Region Grand Est; while Gilles Pelayo, Head of Unit of the programme Europe for Citizens Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), stressed how “ALDA is a strategic partner in working with the civil society and for its participation” especially in these hard times.

Similarly, Ms. Martine Dieschburg-Nickels, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, underlined how the commitment and work of the Congress and that of ALDA are both directed to provide solutions and answers to overcome this crucial period “characterised by multiple crises on the European continent and worldwide”. Among them the one of the environment is definitely a crucial one as well. Thus, Mr. Thibaut Guignard, Mayor of Ploeuc-l’Hermitage, President of Leader France, by mentioning the “Climate of Change” project as a positive initiative, further called for the necessity of coherent and united actions within this framework.

Environment, democracy, human rights were at the heart of the initiatives that ALDA has developed within the Konferencija o budućnosti Evrope platform in order to animate it, involving youths and people to join this bottom-up exercise, while sending clear messages to the institutions. Thanks to this effort, as well as the role of Ms. Antonela Valmorbida, in the Konvneciju civilnog društva o Konferenciji o budućnosti Evrope, ALDA during the 2021 has always worked in order to make people’s voices heard, calling for a Europe closer to its citizens.

Coherently with its mission in promoting democracy, and protecting human rights, while considering the deep and strong bond that ALDA has with its LDAs, and considering its commitment in providing assistance to Ukraine, Ms. Tetiana Lomakina, delegate from LDA Mariupol, has been appointed as Chair of the 2022 Assembly. This decision brought the audience to its feet, for a moment of profound emotion. Being closer to people, showing support to Ukraine can be understood and carried out in several ways. Appointing Ms. Lomakina as Chair definitely stressed the will of the Association to further work closely and hand in hand with colleagues from the LDAs and friends in Ukraine: together calling for a peace.

Listening to inspiring speeches, learning from the experiences and expertise of other institutions and Local Authorities marked an occasion for the audience, and guests to gain a broader knowledge on the surrounding realities as well as possible and potential solutions.

As previously mentioned, the ALDA General Assembly, as is customary, includes a series of related events, this year focusing on the environment, within the Climate of Change project, and on Solidarity with Ukraine, together with EPIC project partners, JEF Europe and within the Strasbourg Summit.

 

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Events related to the General Assembly


Solidarity

Solidarity with Ukraine: Testimonies of war

Ukrainian flags, rag-dolls wearing traditional clothes, pictures of Ukrainian cities: this is the image that each of the participants got when entering the “Aubette” Hall – Place Klebert, in Strasbourg, on Friday 6 May 2022 in the occasion of Generalna skupština ALDA.

Dozens of people were there just for one single reason: peace. Young people, children, old ladies and men concealed pain and suffering behind smiles and greetings. Nobody could ever imagine such a terrific reality for the Country of Kiev. Nobody.

Discussing, sharing and showing concrete support to Ukrainian citizens is a daily commitment for ALDA, which, together with the Young European Federalist (JEF) and within the Strasbourg Summit, organised the event “Solidarity with Ukraine: Testimonies of war”.


“Solidarity with Ukraine: Testimonies of war” to urge institutions, other organisations, single citizens to call for immediate peace and end of war


Right at the eve of the closing of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the Europe Day, the two organisations urged institutions, other organisations, single citizens to call for immediate peace and end of war. 

Testimonies came from different realities, yet all aiming at the same goal: Tetiana Lomakina, from LDA Mariupol gave her opening speech, showed a sadly well-know brutal situation in her Country, in which people are suffering, yet very much committed to speak up for their freedoms in her city and all over Ukraine. Mariupol, one of the most attacked area, as recalled by Antonela Valmorbida, was, and still is, the hometown of one of the two Local Democracy Agency, which is a place of democracy, a place of positive change, a place which today is facing an unjust war.

Marta Siciarek, from Gdansk Region and Partner of EPIC Project, stressed the solidarity actions expressed from Poland towards Ukraine: the red and white Country is thus welcoming hundreds of hundreds of refugees. Similarly Christelle Savall, Vice-President of JEF Europe, underlined the need of welcoming Ukraine as a candidate Country to join the Union.

Future hopes, needs and actions which have to be taken to support the Country of ​​blue sky above the yellow field of wheat, as expressed by Andriy Sadovyi, Mayor of Lviv. At the same time Iryna Orel, from Promote Ukriane, underlined the need to design a quality information space showing real events taking place in Ukraine. Similarly, in a gentle and powerful voice Inna Volkova, from the Odessa Regional Council, after having showed pictures of bombing, hanging the demaged flag of Ukraine, she called for “Slava Ukrainii”.


Future

Conference on the Future of Europe: what’s next?

Nearly a year after the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe and the related online platform, this ambitious experiment has officially reached its end, all in all in a successful and satisfactory way.

On Monday, May 9. 2022, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, together with colleagues from the Strasbourg Office were pleased to be invited to the closing ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Indeed ALDA, in the person of Ms Valmorbida and many other colleagues, actively joined this bottom-up approach, by being fully engaged in the Konvneciju civilnog društva o Konferenciji o budućnosti Evrope, both as Member of the Steering Committee, and as Chair of the Democracy Cluster.

Generally speaking, during the last 12 months, European randomly selected citizens were invited to give their opinion on the future of the European Union, to discuss the improvement and issues that the EU will have to tackle in the coming years.


Ms Valmorbida and many other colleagues, actively joined this bottom-up approach to ensure citizens’ participation, to reduce the gap between institutions and people for the Europe of the future


This debate and collaboration among citizens and politicians culminated in a report centered around 49 proposals that include concrete objectives and more than 320 recommendations for the EU institutions to follow up, based on nine topics: climate change and the environment; health; a stronger economy, social justice and jobs; EU in the world; values and rights, rule of law, security, digital transformation, European democracy, migration, education, culture, youth and sport.

In a closing ceremony, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, President Emmanuel Macron on behalf of the Council Presidency and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen received the above-mentioned report.

Yet, one question remains: how will institutions now follow up effectively on these proposals, each within their own spheres of competence and in accordance with the Treaties? First answers and feedbacks will be delivered during a dedicated event, which will take place to update citizens in autumn 2022.

ALDA together with other Civil Society Organisations, and European partners will keep its commitment to closely follow the process, willing to ensure citizens’ participation, while reducing the gap between institutions and people.


Nature

Safeguarding natural resources, ALDA’s engagement in Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) projects

Taking care of the environment means taking care of our own lives, our neighbors and people sharing the planet with us. Yet, each year water resources are diminishing, and the negative effects of pollution are leading to a climate change, which has to stop now. 

 

With the will to turn UN SDGs into a concrete reality, while spreading the culture of environmental respect, and working to implement the green transition,  ALDA is very active on the topic of climate change adaptation, especially as far as Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) concern.  Therefore, believing in a bottom-up and participative approach, the Association is delighted to share some relevant material that was developed in the context of three European projects managed by ALDA.

Starting with the Erasmus + “Green Skills 4 Cities Project" which has just started and it is aimed at creating a transdisciplinary education platform targeted to civil servants and local administrators and focusing on the development of skills in the field of NBS for cities.  If you are interested in knowing more about the project and give your input for the design of the curricula, please fill this survey (15 minutes).



Similarly, Life Beware Project is intended to develop a strategy for adaptation to climate change and flood risk in urban and rural areas, through the implementation of NBS and the active involvement of the local community. The project produced an online on demand Training on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), targeted to Municipalities, public technicians and local administrators that are interested in replicating the pilot interventions implemented and tested by the project. The training is in Italian with English subtitles and it’s available (ovdje)

Last but not least, Life Metro Adapt Project which targets the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation strategies (i.a. Nature-Based Solutions) in a metropolitan area, specifically the Metropolitan Area of Milan (CMM). The project designed a praktični priručnik that offers an overview of the methodology used by the project that allowed the CMM to both develop NBS on the territory and to implement them in the Territorial Plan. The handbook is available (ovdje) in english

Join ALDA, its team and partners to turn green goals into fact!


Festival

Human rights at the BUK Festival in Modena

From 6th to 8th of May 2022, ALDA joined the BUK Festival in Modena.  Dedicated to small and medium publishing and directed by Francesco Zarzana, vice-president of ALDA, this 2022 edition marked the XV anniversary of the Festival!

Considering the current circumstances and the already fragile moment for democracy both in the EU and in the whole world, the event “Europe of rights” reflected on the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and the necessity of supporting citizens’ participation to protect human rights.

ALDA colleague, Khrystyna Kvartsiana delivered the presentation “Human rights during wartime”, focusing on the violations of rights currently happening in Ukraine, and in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights.


The event "Human rights during wartime", focusing on the violations of rights currently happening in Ukraine, and in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights took place at the BUK Festival


“The massacres of civilians in Irpin, Butcha, Borodianka, Izium and many other Ukrainian cities revealed the inhuman nature of the Russian soldiers. In my country, in 2022, they kill children, destroy residential buildings, rape women and kids, and vanish entire cities from the surface. What Russians are doing now in Ukraine undermines the very idea of fundamental human rights, let alone the Geneva convention for humanitarian treatment in war”, said Khrystyna.

Such testimonies need no further explanation. Yet, a great moment of sharing started among organisers and participants, together calling for an immediate stop to this war.

Besides, this festival served as moment of discussion also on other projects, within which the Association is engaged: from the European Platform of Integrating Cities aims to improve the integration of migrants at local level as aimed within EPIC; do the co-designing and co-development processes between young artists coming from different European countries, as proposed by BRAVO BRAVISSIMO; and to the improvement of citizens and youths’ awareness on the social, economic, and environmental implications of the CAP, final goal of CAPPERI.

 

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ALDA colleagues and speakers at BUK Festival:

  • Khrystyna Kvartsiana, ALDA Programmes Development Officer – ALDA and Researcher IIG (UA)
  • Alessandra Brigo, ALDA Project Manager – Gender, Inclusion and Human rights
  • Nadia di Iulio, ALDA Project Manager – Community Engagement


GEM IN Final Conference: the closing step of an educational journey

After almost 3 years of hard work, the partners of GEM IN “ Game to EMbrace INtercultural education” – finally had the opportunity to gather together for the Final Conference of the project, which took place on May 5, 2022, in Strasbourg. 

During this event, the partners underlined how GEM IN exceeded the purpose of providing  operational policy recommendations in the field of education and training by fostering social inclusion, cross-cultural dialogue and active citizenship and by creating a space in the field of education where formality and informality go hand in hand. 

In a period where education experienced a moment of closure, GEM IN created an educational community to share culture and promote critical thinking. 

As a demonstration of this, the partners presented to the attendees the GEM IN game, a colorful pedagogical kit aimed at teachers/educators as much as youngsters, containing several questions on different topics, such as technology, Europe and social values. The aim of the game was to create an environment where knowledge could be built and accepted, and where the main goal “was not to know the answer, but to be open to understand the answer” as stated by Giovanni Barbieri, project manager at CESIE and coordinator of GEM IN. 


GEM IN created an educational community to share culture and promote critical thinking


The conference continued with a presentation of partners’ experiences when conducting the pilots in their own country. They highlighted how during this phase, the sharing of ideas and the exchange of feedback among partners was constant and constructive, giving life to a whole community. This session was followed by a panel discussion on the benefits of the method “learning by playing”. 

The event ended in a very emotional way, with the hope that the GEM IN game and its community will continue to live beyond the boundaries of the project.


youth

Climate of Change and the role of the youth

youth

On May 6th, ALDA had the opportunity to discuss climate change, as well as the role of young people within this issue and what the community is doing with the project Climate of Change, to improve the situation we are living in.

In the beautiful location of Villa Schutzenberger in the city centre of Strasbourg, during the ALDA General Assembly and the Strasbourg Summit, the Association organised a workshop, with the participation of the French Young European Federalist.

This workshop was the ideal situation for the dissemination of the project and the results of the research carried out during the implementation with a presentation of the case studies report, the Human economy report and IPSOS survey.

The project, the campaign and the petition (signed by many!) were promoted and used as the basis for the panel discussion. The panellists were representatives of youth from France, engaged in the fight against climate change and the migration nexus.


Youth's concerns about the environment and knowledge of climate-induced migration at the core of the debate


Participants and organisers were able to discuss various topics, moderated by the Climate of Change team from ALDA, and to launch a dialogue on the themes tackled by the project, especially the 4 points promoted by the petition which were at the core of the conversation and showed the interest of youngsters in this topic.

Furthermore, ALDA created a moment of exchange thanks to which the importance of youth’s involvement, and their role within this framework came to surface. Hence, there is a lot of awareness among young people on the environment and environmental issues.

More into depth, ALDA asked to the three panelists several questions on young people’s concerns about the environment and knowledge of climate-induced migration, thus opening very interesting debates in which the audience, mainly composed of high schools and university students took part, showed not only their perplexities and fears about it but also suggested different models of management of these topics, showing awareness and interest.

What did emerge from the climate of change workshop?

ALDA realised that among younger generations there is a desire to get involved in the change-making processes for the future of our planet. Once again, thanks to this workshop, partners and audience further understand how important it is to give voice to young people and give space to their initiatives. Listening to their requests is the first step to start a #Climateofchange.


committee

EPIC Steering committee : achievements and goals

The first week of May 2022 was the chance for EPIC partners to meet again, share their experience and their progresses on the project and participate in a side event on the Russian war to Ukraine.

On the 5. of May, EPIC partners gathered in Strasbourg for the 7. Steering committee of the project. The Steering committee (SC) was organised at the same time of the Strasbourg summit, a summit which anticipates the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) where NGOs, CSOs and citizens had the chance to share their expectations on the future of the EU.


During the steering committee partners discussed on the achievements of the project and on the future goals


The Steering committee of the EPIC project was a great chance for partners to meet again after 2 years of online meetings and events, however it was a hybrid event to allow everyone to participate. During the SC, partners discussed on the achievements of the project and on the future goals. Everyone shares their experience on how they are implementing the pilot projects and on how they will divulgate it to the local community, listening carefully to other partners’ opinions. Moreover, during the event partners discussed together on the strategies for the next activities and on how to advocate for more inclusive EU policies.

Eventually, the following day, within the framework of the ALDA General Assembly, the EPIC project, ALDA and the Young European Federalists (JEF) presented an event called “Solidarity with Ukraine: Testimonies of the war”, in which panelists talked about the current situation in Ukraine. Among them: Andriy Sadovi, the Mayor of Lviv, Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Secretary General, and Marta Siciarek, representing the Gdansk metropolitan region, as well as member of EPIC.

The event was very powerful and emotional, and a good occasion for almost one hundred participants to listen to direct experiences.


Strasbourg

ALDA Governing Board meeting in Strasbourg for the future of Europe and protection of people's freedoms and rights

Strasbourg

The Headquarters of the Region Grand Est in Strasbourg hosted the Governing Board (GB) meeting on May 5, 2022. Right before the General Assembly, and the Strasbourg Summit, all the members of the Board gathered together in Alsace to discuss several key aspects within which ALDA is involved.

It comes without saying that considering both the location and the time being, the Konferencija o budućnosti Evrope (CoFoE) and the situation in Ukraine are at the core of this Governing Board meeting.

Specifically, concerning the CoFoE, the GB delivered a position on the CoFoE in relation to the Western Balkans, while the Association has been fully engaged in a multitude of ways; such as: promoting and sharing events on the multi language platform; animating the Working Groups within its network; and joining the Konvencija o civilnom društvu on the CoFoE. Once again, the Governing Board reaffirmed the role of ALDA as a bridge between civil society and institutions, working for the best of Europe.


Considering both the location and the time being, the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) and the situation in Ukraine are at the core of this Governing Board meeting.


Nowadays, being engaged in European dynamics, being committed to promote democracy and good governance also means to keep supporting Ukrainian citizens in safeguarding their democracy and freedom. Hence, as already expressed in the previous meeting, here in Strasbourg the Board stressed its willingness to provide concrete support to Ukrainian people, friends and colleagues.

Two Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) within the ALDA’s network, in fact, are based in Ukraine and are now facing terrible and unjust pain. In light of this, the Governing Board, together with the Secretary General, and other delegates from the LDAs have already started to join forces to further help people and colleagues in Mariupol and Dnipro.

Overall, the Governing Board in Strasbourg was essential in order to highlight the key steps that the Association will follow, always for the best of democracy and people’s freedoms

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Engaging young people in placemaking activities

As part of the PART-Y project, ALDA has created a Toolkit to Build a Communication Campaign for a Young and Inclusive Placemaking. It provides guidance but also examples and ready-to-use templates.

It contains :

  • A handbook explaining how to involve young people in placemaking actions, whether you are a young person or a municipality
  • A toolbox, where you can find all the practical tools to make your own communication campaign.


ALDA has created a Toolkit to Build a Communication Campaign for a Young and Inclusive Placemaking


The Toolkit has been developed on the basis of both desk research and questionnaires filled in by young people during local activities in Trieste and Koper.

In order to make it more inclusive, we also created a handbook adapted for people with cognitive or visual impairment.

The Toolkit is available for free here

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