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.