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Disseminating to citizens the role and values of decentralised cooperation

18 July 2017

Actors engaged in cooperation gathered on the 5th of July in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region premises in Bordeaux (France), in order to discuss on strategies and tools to enhance the external actions of local authorities and associations. Those debates, organised at the invitation of the French association of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (AFCCRE), gathered speakers and participants from France and Europe, from local governments and NGOs, in order to bring together a wide variety of approaches.

Organised in the framework of the Strategic partnership signed between the AFCCRE and PLATFORMA, and hosted by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, the purpose of this conference was to share experiences between actors of decentralised cooperation with various backgrounds: different countries, different structures, with a real European perspective.

Isabelle BOUDINEAU, Vice-President of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, welcomed the participants on behalf of the President, Alain ROUSSET, and opened the debates by underling the importance of actively communicating on partnerships. The new Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region has indeed chosen to carry on all the cooperation partnerships previously existing in the 3 merged Regions (Aquitaine, Limousin, Poitou-Charentes).

In the context of the populist wave pushing for budgetary cuts on external policies, the importance of raising awareness about international citizenship has been stressed by Jocelyne Bougeard, Deputy-Mayor of Rennes et Chair of the « Europe, Cooperation and Development » Committee of the AFCCRE. The Secretary-General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Frédéric Vallier, recalled the advocacy work done with European institutions in order to have the decentralised cooperation recognised at the EU level, thus paving the way to the creation of PLATFORMA almost 10 years ago.

Acting on the ground

In the light of the conclusions of the 2015 Orleans Conference organized by the AFCCRE with the Centre-Val-de-Loire Region, Tony Ben Lahoucine, President of the Regional Multi-stakeholder network (RMSN) Centraider presented the leaflet for actors working on the ground, listing the benefits in the territories of public policies in the field of decentralised cooperation. He stressed how territories represent valuable labs for experimentation, enabling solutions with mutual benefits in the South and in the North, and the profile of these solutions must be raised.

A first roundtable gathered Nagore Gostiza-Mendia, for the Basque agency for development cooperation, Andreas Wolter, Deputy-Mayor of Cologne (Germany), and Mireille Sels-Cazaux in charge of development and communication at the RMSN Occitanie-Cooperation. Their presentations showed the diversity of approaches and organisation depending on structures and cultures, but also underlining the numerous points of understanding. During the debate with the audience, the difficulty to communicate on decentralised cooperation has been raised, the bottlenecks being the lack of interest by the medias, but also the fear of the use of these external actions in populist propaganda.

Carla Rey, Secretary-General of the Italian association of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (AICCRE), Jean-Marc Dutreteau, Director of the Association Cool’eurs du Monde, Mathieu Chaveneau, Directeur of KuriOz and representing the EducaSol network, Olivier Baumard, Project officer at PLATFORMA and Frank Fortune, Directeur of Nouvelle-Aquitaine RMSN SO-Cooperation were the panellists of the second roundtable.

This roundtable which was more specifically dedicated to the presentation of concrete actions on the ground showed the necessity of a strategy and coordination work with the diversity of all actors involved (local and regional governments, States, local associations, NGOs, academics, private sector…) at both national and European level. The importance of revamping the message in both content and form was stressed, as well as redefining dissemination channels, in order to bring to citizens tools to better understand the complex world we live in.

In conclusion, Jocelyne Bougeard and Christophe Chaillou, Director-General of the AFFCRE stressed their will to ensure that this conference can be the starting point of fruitful exchanges allowing for European cooperation and partnerships between actors of the decentralised cooperation to be able to answer to the common challenges of development education and awareness raising.

This conference will serve as the basis of a “toolkit-guide” to be published during the second half of 2017, enabling the wide spreading of innovative ideas and concepts.