The message comes from Platforma, a far reaching reality linking distant and diverse cities, regions and civil society organisations through partnerships, enabling experience sharing across education, health, work, local economy, local administration, civil society participation, local policies and initiatives to tackle growing poverty, increasing pollution, unemployment and the many other issues affecting our cities and regions.
Created in 2008, this huge platform for democracies turned ten and its birthday comes at uneasy times for the EU. That’s why it’s vital to recall that the EU should strengthen decentralized cooperation and support the development of local democratic institutions.
The leading voice comes from Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR, Council of European Municipalities and Regions, main partner of Platforma and the world’s oldest and largest association of local and regional governments with its 41 countries members.
“The role of the partenariate at local level is to link civil society, cities and regions, in view a constructive dialogue with the state, at national level”, said Vallier at the conference in Brussels celebrating Platforma’s 10th anniversary. CEMR along with Platforma represents and forwards diverse instances coming from cities and regions in the dialogue with the EU. Vallier stressed the importance of “a permanent coalition representing local governments in order to keep a continuous dialogue with the European Union institutions, such as Commission and Parliament, in representation of local territories”.
Coordinating the voices of European local and regional authorities is one of the main tasks of CEMR and Platforma along with twinnings and partnerships development, promotion of cooperation and principle of subsidiarity, support of active participation of citizens in the decision making process.
The European Union acting through the Decentralised Cooperation, is the largest donor and provides nearly 60% of official development assistance to CEMR and Platforma which guarantees thousand partnerships between cities and regions far and beyond the Bloc’s borders: in Europe, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and Latin America. A current partnership signed with the EU Commission is in place until 2020, but the coming EU elections might divert the paths followed so far.
Words of reassurance of EU Commission’s commitment to supporting decentralised cooperation “in the third countries” came from Carla Montesi in charge of Planet and Prosperity at Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development.
But has the EU the same commitment to promoting decentralisation and local self-government among its member states?
Looking at the Sustainable Development Goals implementation from a local perspective, a change of mind turns necessary; the banal mantra “think globally act locally” should be reversed in recognition of the fact that big cities, smaller municipalities, regions, local territories are at the forefront of civil society led changes, economic development, while shaping new policies on factual experiences and tailoring administration on citizens needs.
What is global, therefore, should only be the result of the adoption in a large scale of those successful experiences tested and shared between local actors (both institutions and civil society) living and operating in different areas of the planet. We would determine, otherwise, unsustainable developments.