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12 cities took part in the first European Days of Local Solidarity

1 December 2016

The first edition of the European Days of Local Solidarity (EDLS) run from 12 to 24 November and featured participation from cities and towns in Italy, France, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Extremadura and Latvia.

Towns and cities from different parts of Europe asserted their role in the development of solidarity initiatives and decentralised cooperation during the first edition of the EDLS, coordinated by PLATFORMA. A total of 12 cities participated in the seven sets of activities on the agenda.

“European cities have been collaborating for decades on matters such as water and waste management, transport, energy access, strategies to combat climate change, participatory processes and so on, and this cooperation now goes way beyond our borders. Europe’s municipalities have a lot to learn from places like Jordan and Lebanon in relation to highly topical challenges like receiving and handling refugees,” said then PLATFORMA director Patrizio Fiorilli, before highlighting the fact that: “Every day, hundreds of cities across the world are in contact through a multitude of projects, and the EDLS will be a way of visualising how these local actions can bring about global change.”

The seven sets of activities organised  for the first EDLS revolve around themes such as the eradication of poverty, the fight against climate change and the defence of human rights. All of these initiatives were aligned  with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Local action up for discussion in Catalonia, Extremadura and Basque Country

Cerdanyola del Vallès kicked off the EDLS with the Cerdanyola Coopera (Cerdanyola Cooperates) Fair on 12 November, one of the highlights of the Tardor Solidària (Solidarity Autumn) scheme, in which local NGOs and civil-society organisations take to the streets to give citizens a glimpse of their global sustainable development projects and the municipality’s commitment to solidarity.

On 16 November, it was the turn of Mérida, where representatives from the Government of Extremadura, the European Commission and the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) gathered to analyse success stories about cooperation projects driven by cities and to debate the best way to implement European Union-funded projects.

For its part, on the 24th, the Pati Manning in Barcelona staged an event bringing together figures from local society and Catalan cooperation actors. This seminar served as a platform to promote the objectives of the EDLS and to explore the intersection of the SDGs and local development policies, with the aim of fostering the former’s implementation at a local level in the coming years.

That same day, the Elkartegiak centre in Getxo hosted the last EDLS activity, a seminar presenting a range of initiatives developed in the Basque Country in the field of sustainable food production and consumption, from awareness-raising to research and project execution.

Open doors at AICCRE in Rome

The headquarters of the Italian Association of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions(AICCRE) in Rome took centre stage for the EDLS in Italy. From 14 to 17 November, the association opened its doors and hosted all sorts of events related to fair trade. There was everything from workshops to debates, screenings of documentaries and guided tours through which citizens had the chance to find out about the cooperation projects the institution is involved in.

The EDLS proceedings in Rome focused on topics such as decentralised cooperation, responsible growth, fair trade and microfinance as a source of funding for cooperation projects.

(See AICCRE article in this newsletter)

Spotlight on Latvian involvement in Georgian urban development

The main EDLS venue in Latvia was the Vidzeme Planning Region. On 17 November, cities and towns across this area showcased the numerous collaboration and development projects they are engaged in together with municipalities in Georgia. Events taking place in Riga, Valmiera, C?sis, Rauna and P?rgauja offered an insight into the exchange initiatives between entrepreneurs from the two countries. Furthermore, the EDLS programme tied in with the Latvian Independence Day celebrations on 18 November. On this note, the day before, there was an official reception to commemorate the occasion, as well as a prize-giving ceremony for the winners of the children’s drawing competition “Latvia and Georgia: So Far, but So Close Through Cooperation”.

Raising awareness of children’s rights in Paris

Last but not least, Paris City Hall hosted the photography exhibition Objectif Enfance (Focus on Childhood) from 18 to 23 November. This show aimed to raise awareness about the plight of children in various parts of the world and to champion their rights.

The photographs featured showcased the activities carried out all over the world by the associations Clowns Without Borders, ECPAT, Enfants Sans Frontières (Children Without Borders), Plan International, Islamic Relief France, Solidarité Laïque (Secular Solidarity) and SOS Children’s Villages. The Vice-Mayor of Paris and PLATFORMA spokesperson Patrick Klugman opened the exhibition.

For more information www.objectif-enfance.org

A pan-European initiative

The EDLS initiative was launched within the framework of PLATFORMA and spearheaded by six of its members: the Diputació de Barcelona (Government of the Province of Barcelona), the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia), Euskal Fondoa (the Association of Basque Local Cooperation Organisations), the Italian Association of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (AICCRE), the City of Paris and the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG).