European cities and regions join voices to raise citizens’ awareness on Sustainable Development!

4 December 2017

On 20 November 2017, PLATFORMA organised the central event of the European Days of Local Solidarity (EDLS) 2017. On its second edition (10 – 24 November), the EDLS counted on more than 15 cities and regions as organizers of over 20 activities including workshops, open-air celebrations or technical seminars targeting school groups, activists, citizens and local representatives.

Gathered at the House of European cities and regions in Brussels, over 30 participants, including local and regional governments’ officials, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), global platforms, etc. discussed on how to raise citizens’ awareness on sustainable development and on the role that local and regional governments play in this field.

Diputació de Barcelona (DIBA) and the Latvian Association of local and regional governments (LALRG) launched the discussion by presenting their experience as promoters of the EDLS in their respective territories. Participants agreed that a critical and engaged citizenry is needed for the effective implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The concepts of “solidarity” and “sustainable development” thus need to be well explained and translated into comprehensible calls for change. VVSG pointed to the importance of linking local and global sustainable development policies to reach wider audiences.

Cities and regions’ key contribution to the Agenda 2030

A round-table debate with MEP Bogdan Wenta (DEVE Committee), Miguel Silva (North-South Centre of the Council of Europe) and Bernard Combes (UNESCO Section of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship) allowed for fruitful exchanges on the current EU policies on development and the role given to awareness raising. Partners advocated for a stronger recognition of cities and regions’ contribution to the Agenda 2030 and a more aware and engaged citizens for sustainable development.

In the afternoon, participants exchanged on very concrete practices on development education and awareness raising, including a livestreamed artwork about the SDGs in a school in Maastricht. Mary Gelly, PhD at the Grenoble University, presented the conclusions of her 4-year research on the international action of French local authorities, stressing the need to communicate on the impacts of such practices, including those affecting European citizens.

The coordinator of the Festival des Solidarités, a 20-year old annual campaign organised all over France, described how the term “solidarities” can be useful to engage all players concerned by sustainability, equality and poverty reduction both in France and abroad. One of the coordinators of the European Week of Sustainable Development argued in favour of multi-level alliances at national level to engage citizens.

A growing initiative

Through its two years of existence, the EDLS has gained new partners in the Netherlands and Mallorca (Spain) and it has grown in terms of outreach thanks to the EDLS Twitter campaign (check all the content at @EDLSolidarity and #localsolidaritydays). Moreover, partners have strengthened their joint message and have drafted the Charter of the EDLS, claiming for a better recognition of local and regional governments’ role in raising their citizens’ awareness on sustainable development and decentralized cooperation.

PLATFORMA welcomes any new partner interested in joining our umbrella-campaign aimed to support the exchange and learning, and to strengthen the voices of all European local and regional governments committed to build a more aware and active citizenry in favour of sustainable development.

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