“Co-creating rural futures”: ALDA contributes to the European Union Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas

The two-day conference, entitled “Co-creating rural futures”, marked a key moment to present the work undertaken by the SHERPA project partners during 2022, and discuss their contribution to the European Union Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas (LTVRA).

More on a technical note, the conference focused on the role of Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs) and multi-stakeholder governance in delivering the LTVRA and reflected upon the sustainability of SHERPA MAPs after the project’s end. Yet, how far can citizens contribute on that, and how the society can benefit from it?

Bringing the perspective of a Civil Society Organisation especially in the breakout session “Governance and membership of the Multi-Actor Platforms" and in the rural area policy sector

Didier Duboisset (External Observer of ALDA and representative of the GAL Pays Vichy Auvergne) and Valeria Fantini (project manager and head of the “environment” hub in ALDA) attended the conference, thus bringing the perspective of a Civil Society Organisation especially in the breakout session “Governance and membership of the Multi-Actor Platforms”. Hence, governance plays the main role within the last MAPs cycle (empowering rural areas in multi-level governance processes), underlining the added value of ALDA in contributing to this specific aspect of the project.

Finally, the annual conference has been the occasion to present highlights from the SHERPA and MAPs Position Papers on the social dimension of rural areas, sustainable and resilient value chains, climate change and land use, and digitalisation.


The 3rd Annual Conference “CO-CREATING RURAL FUTURES” of the SHERPA project took place in Montpellier (France) on 31 January and 1 February 2023

About the project SHERPA:

Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies with Actors (SHERPA) is a four-year project (2019-2023) with 17 partners funded by the Horizon 2020 programme. It aims to gather knowledge that contributes to the formulation of recommendations for future policies relevant to EU rural areas, by creating a science-society-policy interface which provides a hub for knowledge and policy.

For more information: Website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram , Youtube


500 projects to empower citizens and contribute to the creation of a democratic society in Europe and beyond


From civic engagement to migration; from environment to youth and social inclusion: ALDA crossed the line of 500 projects implemented!

Words are not enough to express this important achievement, which is the demonstration of the ALDA’s fruitful first insight: believe in the power of citizens as change makers and democracy promoters. Changing people’s lives for better is the goal behind every single action; thus, easing the conditions in which people are living in, and supporting a democratic outcome of every initiative.

Yet, the world has posed several challenges since the very beginning: fundamental values are at stake and extreme behaviours are spreading all around. What can we do? How can Civil Society Organisation act and counterbalance this anti-democratic drift?

There is a necessity of investing in the democratic culture, in the participatory mechanisms and in the empowerment of future generations: ALDA’s 500 projects do that

By localising actions, by engaging with local communities and by creating a space of dialogue among institutions and citizens. There is a necessity of investing in the democratic culture, nella participatory mechanisms and in the empowerment of future generations: ALDA’s 500 projects do that.

On the one hand, having a consortium of different stakeholders within each project favours an intercultural exchange and cooperation; on the other, it increases mutual knowledge and the sense of community, thus encouraging the development of a collective approach to common matters.

With its projects, ALDA is addressing the above-mentions issues through decentralised cooperation and participatory mechanisms, enabling people with new tools to react and face problems. The Rude Awakening project, for example, developed an interactive videogame taking place during the WWI. Aimed at raising awareness on European historical and cultural heritage, while stressing new educational and emotional perspective on war and peace, through this output the project not only stimulate the reflection on the present situation, but also it firmly underlines the importance of peace and the necessity of its safeguard.

More on a scientific note, but still having the well-being of people at the centre and still focusing on the necessity of local community, the LIFE Beware project addresses climate change and the consequence of it in the urban and rural areas. It calls for experts and CSOs to collaborate to reach a common strategy for climate adaptation, especially on flooding risks.

 Last but not least, leading an international membership, made of 300 realities, and being in its turn member of several global network, all ALDA’s projects have a world-wide ranging, and meet one or more Obiettivi di sviluppo sostenibile, thus localising the latter and cooperating to the achievements of the UN AGENDA 2030


More on examples among the 500 projects:

  • Youth Empowerment and Education Thematic: H.E.Y!
  • Digital and innovation Thematic: P-CUBE
  • Gender, Inclusion and Human Rights Thematic: STAND-UP
  • Migration Thematic: EPIC

Watch the video of the projects implemented within the CERV (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme), and see the impact of them!


ALDA at the 16th CIVEX Commission: where EU priority issues meet civil society

Possibly defined as the operational branch of the Comitato delle regioni (CoR), the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) oversees the coordination of the institutional policies on local democracy, future of Europe and law-making; just to name a few.

Taking place on 1st February 2023 and chaired by Mr. Bianco; the 16' CIVEX Commission fully addresses the Eastern Partnership, with special reference to the local and regional perspective; together with the Enlargement Package and the Media Freedom Act while discussing the involvement of local and regional Authorities to strengthen the European Democracy.

Being the CIVEX addressed to European civil society actors, ALDA is a key player in the discussion, representing in turn a network of 300 stakeholders

The latter represents a key milestone in the conduct of ALDA, stressing once again the crucial position of the Association: bridging people and networking with institution to achieve a common goal: building a democratic society in Europe and beyond.

 Thus, in light of a long-lasting partnership and in line with the mission of ALDA, our Secretary General Antonella Valmorbida was present at the CIVEX Commission. Indeed, being the CIVEX addressed to European civil society actors, from local and regional authorities to NGOs and civil society organisations, ALDA represents a key player in the discussion, representing in turn a network of 300 stakeholders among local authorities and associations across the Enlarged Europe.

 On this note, Ms. Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Mayor of Gdanks (Poland) and member of ALDA, was also present as CIVEX as Chair of the CoR Working Group on Ukraine, underlying in her speech the essential role of ALDA as a change maker, driving policies into actions.

Overall, considering the multiple stimuli and challenges that Europe is now facing, this 16' CIVEX Commission represents a high moment within ALDA’s agenda, allowing the Association to further increase its expertise and addressing its activities to meet the European priorities as well as the civil society necessitates.


SMELT Final Conference: the conclusion of a path characterised by professionalism, humanity and empathy

The journey of the SMELT project – Skilling Marginalised people to Enter the Labour markeT, started back in 2020, came to an end.

After two years of hard work, on January 16, 2023, the Final Conference of the project took place in Schio (Italy) within the framework of the fifth and last Transnational Partners Meeting.

During the Final Conference, the project partners presented to the audience, composed of Local Authorities, Civil Society Organisations, Associations and professionals working in the field of social inclusion, the achievements and results of the project.

After a brief but in-depth introduction made by Cooperativa Samarcanda Onlus, leader of the project, the three Intellectual Outputs were showcased.

The first one led to the creation of a manual, so-called ‘Easy Handbook', aimed at bringing marginalised people closer to the labour market. The Easy Handbook is composed of two different parts, one addressed to operators/staff working in NGOs, VET Institutions or other entities entitled of delivering the training to facilitate access to the labour market of vulnerable groups, and another part directly targeting vulnerable people.

Despite the formal end of the SMELT project, the tools achieved by its implementation are timeless

The second Intellectual Output resulted in the production of a ‘Training Manual’, a guide that includes basic knowledge on how to look for a job in the welding sector. It contains the labour regulatory frameworks of the countries involved in the project, it explores the different steps foreseen during the application procedure (e.g. how to write a CV, how to manage an interview etc.) and the soft skills needed to succeed in the recruitment process.

Finally, the partners presented the Intellectual Output 3, a collection of projects addressed to the ‘people on the move’ (refugees, migrants etc.).

Each partner conducted this third and last phase in a very different way, according to the tools and expertise at their disposal. During the Final Conference, the prototypes of Cooperativa Samarcanda, which conducted a Hackathon with more than 50 participants, were showcased.

The Final Conference represented a great conclusion for a successful project which exceeded the expectations of the partners, who not only shared professionalism e good practices but also humanity e empathy, values that characterised SMELT from the beginning to the very end.

The project partners will continue, with their daily work, promoting the insertion of vulnerable people into the society, through employment and other means. Despite the formal end of the project, the tools achieved by its implementation are timeless.


This is us: commitment, awareness and teamwork. ALDA Staff Meeting 2023


Starting from the local to promote and encourage democratic development, while placing citizens and members at the center. This was the guiding light for the ALDA Staff Meeting 2023!

Hence, from 24 to 26 January 2023, ALDA colleagues met in Vicenza, for three-days full immersion discussing together the milestone of the Association, getting to know each other better, and strengthening the sense of community.

From North Macedonia to Tunisia, from Belgium to Moldova via France and Italy: our heterogeneous and intercultural team of 50 people seized the occasion to see each other again, and as stressed by Abdelaziz BouslehHead of the Tunis Office “despite the distance, it is the best opportunity to feel the scope of the activities and the crucial effort behind”. Exactly this: behind the scenes, ALDA is more than an Association: it is people, it is ideas and commitment. It is a one single team that shares together values and energy to make a change, to act locally while thinking globally.

Thus, as also recalled by Antonella Valmorbida, our segretario generale, it is about “working in concert with members, with partners to promote a sustainable agenda, which aims to give impetus to initiatives with a broad European, Eastern Neighborhood, Balkan and Mediterranean scope”.

Staff Meeting 2023: working in concert with members, with partners to promote a sustainable agenda

Aiming at engaging in such a wide area represents, to some extent, the expertise of ALDA on decentralised cooperation, while stimulating citizens’ engagement for a sustainable and locally developed democracy. Similarly, being active in different areas allow the Association to continuously implement its mission, starting from the various necessities that each community is facing. Furthermore, thanks to its partnership extended in more than 40 countries, ALDA has been able to empower realities to express themselves and concretize essential projects, encouraging a collaboration with local authorities, as also explained by Maddalena Alberti, from the Association of LDA Zavidovici.

Stimulated by several exchanges with partners and stakeholders, working in unison to put into practice both the guidelines of the European Union and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, different Thematic Hubs have been designed to maximize the impact on specific areas: be they – environment, youth, inclusion and gender issues together with migration. The latter was also the core aspect of the speech delivered by Andrea Rilievo, rappresentante del ALDA Governing Board. Thus, the Association not only has already implemented a series of initiatives targeting the phenomenon, but it is also working on a specific agenda, fully dedicated to migration.

To conclude on a positive note, a very first outcome of this new approach based in hubs, is already available: the Gender, Equality and Anti-Discrimination Policy has been released and presented during the staff meeting. ALDA will be in first line to make sure that the policy will be followed, and it will work together with members and stakeholders to further progress on this topic.

We thank every colleague who joined the meeting, together we can reach the impossible! Happy “Staff Meeting 2023” everyone!


La percezione dell'Europa: voci e aspettative dei migranti

Il 19 e il 20 gennaio si è svolto a Bologna il Simposio finale del progetto “"PERCEPTIONS - Understanding the Impact of Narratives and Perceptions of Europe on Migration and Providing Practices, Tools and Guides for Practitioners".” I partner si sono incontrati per discutere i risultati ottenuti in questi tre anni e mezzo di ricerca e sviluppo sul campo.

L'obiettivo del progetto è stato quello di esaminare come l'Europa e l'Unione europea sono viste dalle persone che vi sono emigrate o che intendono farlo. La ricerca condotta ha analizzato quali percezioni e immagini dell'Europa esistono tra i migranti, i rifugiati e i richiedenti asilo, come si formano, in che misura corrispondono alla realtà e quale ruolo svolgono nell'influenzare le decisioni in materia di migrazione. Il progetto ha anche esaminato come il flusso di informazioni possa essere distorto e ha creato kit di misure creative e innovative per contrastare le informazioni distorte, considerando gli aspetti sociali, societari e strutturali.

L'obiettivo del progetto era quello di indagare le diverse percezioni dell'Europa e i problemi che si verificano quando le aspettative e la realtà non coincidono.

L'evento finale del progetto è stato aperto al pubblico e ha riunito responsabili politici, accademici, agenti delle forze dell'ordine, migranti, richiedenti asilo, ONG, organizzazioni internazionali e organizzazioni della società civile per discutere i risultati del progetto e le future opportunità di ricerca e pratica.

Durante il primo giorno di conferenza i partecipanti hanno avuto la possibilità di condividere le loro prospettive e di sperimentare i materiali e le risorse sviluppate nel corso del progetto. Dopo un'illuminante tavola rotonda sulla conoscenza e sui risultati di Perceptions, il pubblico ha avuto l'opportunità di assistere a una mostra di tappeti R.E.D., che ha incluso una sessione di disegno dal vivo e di lettura di poesie, e che ha concluso la giornata.

Il secondo e ultimo giorno di conferenza, invece, si è concentrato sul futuro di Perceptions, evidenziando come i risultati del progetto aprano la strada a nuove pratiche e opportunità di ricerca da esplorare in futuro.

L'evento si è concluso con i saluti dei membri del team dell'Università di Bologna, ospite dell'evento, e con la proiezione del film "Dystopia". I partecipanti hanno avuto anche la possibilità di prendere parte al "Bologna Migrantour" che si è svolto nel pomeriggio, dopo la fine della conferenza.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Master has four academic paths to choose from: 

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


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

Read about the programme and apply here


1993-2023: 30 anni di democrazia locale nei Balcani

Il 2023 inizia sicuramente con un clima di incertezza a causa della situazione economica e geopolitica in Europa e nel mondo. D'altra parte, il 2023 segna anche un importante anniversario per ALDA, LDA e l'intero insieme.

Tutto è iniziato esattamente 30 anni fa, con la creazione delle prime ADL nei Balcani.

Sebbene ALDA sia nata alla fine degli anni '90, il nostro lavoro e il nostro impegno sono iniziati già nel 1993, quando le prime ADL sono state create su iniziativa del Consiglio d'Europa con la missione di sostenere la società civile e la coesistenza pacifica nell'ex Jugoslavia post-bellica.

La prima agenzia locale/LDA è stata fondata nel 1993 a Subotica, in Serbia, con il nome di ofAmbasciata della democrazia locale* (LDE) Subotica, , seguita poco dopo da LDE Osijek in Croazia.

Trent'anni dopo, la situazione è cambiata radicalmente. Anno dopo anno, le Agenzie della Democrazia Locale hanno dimostrato la loro efficacia e oggi sono una rete di 16 ADL distribuite in tutto il vicinato europeo con 3 partner operativi (PO) in Croazia.

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

Così, insieme alla loro missione, si è ampliata anche la portata geografica delle ADL. Oggi le ADL si trovano non solo nei Balcani, ma anche in altri Paesi, dove abbiamo conservato nelle nostre attività quotidiane la memoria e l'essenza del lungo viaggio che abbiamo percorso.

Il 2023 sarà quindi caratterizzato da una serie di eventi volti a celebrare l'attività quotidiana delle ADL e dei loro delegati, i risultati raggiunti da ALDA e dalle ADL nel corso degli anni

Saranno organizzati eventi pubblici in tutta l'area balcanica, dove tutto è iniziato, per tracciare un percorso che ricordi le tappe fondamentali dello sviluppo della nostra attività nei Balcani e oltre;

Verrà pubblicata una pubblicazione che, sotto forma di raccolta di aneddoti, immagini e testimonianze, ricorderà la storia dei nostri primi 30 anni.

Verrà prodotto un videodocumentario per far rivivere i momenti più importanti attraverso le immagini di luoghi e persone che hanno segnato la nostra storia.

L'anniversario culminerà poi durante l'Assemblea generale dell'ADL, che si terrà probabilmente nel giugno 2023 (maggiori informazioni nei mesi successivi!) con colleghi, membri e delegati insieme per festeggiare e riflettere sul futuro sviluppo della rete delle ADL.

Poi, ci avvicineremo alla fine dell'anno con un evento cruciale a Strasburgo, nell'ottobre 2023, dove ALDA e ADL saranno auspicabilmente presenti nella sede del Congresso.

Queste sono solo le pietre miliari di un 2023 ricco di eventi, con molte altre iniziative da divulgare nelle settimane e nei mesi successivi, volte a celebrare i nostri primi 30 anni di democrazia locale nei Balcani, da dove tutto è iniziato a oggi... e chissà quante altre evoluzioni ci aspettano!

Che l'Anniversario abbia inizio!


*Solo nel 1998 le ADL hanno iniziato a chiamarsi come le conosciamo oggi, passando da Ambasciate della democrazia locale ad Agenzie della democrazia locale.

Link to the LDAs report of activities of all the years


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Barcelona awarded as the very first European Capital of Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

Read Ms. Valmorbida full speech here


I membri come partner chiave nell'attuazione della transizione digitale a livello locale

Il Segretario Generale di ALDA, Antonella Valmorbida, è stata a Bruxelles con i colleghi per incontrare il Comune di Etterbeek, al fine di rilanciare la partnership strategica istituita nel 2017 e volta a rafforzare i legami tra l'associazione e il Comune, in particolare nel campo della partecipazione dei cittadini.

Questo incontro è avvenuto in un momento molto opportuno, poiché ALDA ha appena ricevuto la notizia che abbiamo vinto un progetto Erasmus+ in collaborazione con Etterbeek, chiamato MEDIUM (Municipalities Experimenting Digital Innovation, Upskilling and the Metaverse).

L'obiettivo è quello di sostenere la transizione digitale del settore pubblico educando all'uso della realtà virtuale e del metaverso per migliorare l'accessibilità ai servizi pubblici.

ALDA sostiene la transizione digitale a livello locale, attraverso le linee guida dell'UE 

All'incontro erano presenti David Dubois,, capo di gabinetto del sindaco, Marie-Charlotte Heldenbergh, responsabile della partecipazione dei cittadini, e Jean-François Maljean, responsabile dei progetti.

Insieme alla signora Valmorbida, hanno discusso di possibili cooperazioni intorno alle priorità di ALDA 2023, tra cui la collaborazione con le ADL in Ucraina, che sono associazioni registrate a livello locale, che riuniscono autorità locali e OSC, per promuovere progetti di sviluppo sostenibile e buona governance.

A livello locale, sono stati determinanti nell'affrontare le sfide della guerra e nella cooperazione tra la società civile e le municipalità, fornendo una maggiore resilienza.

Allo stesso tempo, ricordando il successo del progetto APProach, la signora Heldenbergh ha sottolineato l'impegno di Etterbeek in termini di partecipazione dei cittadini . Realizzato in collaborazione con ALDA e i partner del consorzio, APProach ha aumentato la partecipazione degli stranieri alla vita locale, garantendo che tutti i cittadini abbiano voce in capitolo nel processo decisionale locale. Considerando che il 49% dei residenti di Etterbeek non sono belgi, questa iniziativa è stata un'azione chiave per l'inclusione dei cittadini mobili dell'UE.

Il team è stato anche molto felice di scoprire il nuovo edificio del comune, per il quale Etterbeek ha ricevuto premi per il successo architettonico; si tratta di un edificio naturale, e una parte di esso è dedicata all'edilizia sociale.


Infine, per concludere con una nota positiva l'ordine del giorno della riunione, sono stati discussi altri punti: l'Assemblea generale di ALDA, che si terrà nel giugno 2023 a Bruxelles, e le possibili attività future di sensibilizzazione sulle elezioni del Parlamento europeo. 


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