Programme Mulhouse, 25 September 2009
The crisis we are experiencing is so much more than a financial or economic one. Its effects are being felt in every sphere of society, causing problems in the environmental field, with the depletion of natural resources, and in the social realm, with the growth of disparities and the spread of various types of exclusion, and, more generally, creating a major crisis of confidence, prompting us to question the values and development models which govern our choices and decisions.
Since the Second World War progress has been measured in terms of the growth of GDP, but, now more than ever, a new approach is needed, which views progress in terms of the well-being of all with no exceptions, including future generations, and therefore as a matter of reducing disparities, sharing resources and promoting social cohesion and sustainable development. This means moving away from a model in which the responsibility for progress has to be shouldered by the state or the market, to one in which this responsibility is shared by everyone, in other words both public and private bodies, and citizens.
Since 2005, several local and regional entities both inside and outside Europe have started, with the encouragement of the Council of Europe, to implement this new approach, drawing on a definition of well-being arrived at in discussion with citizens themselves to devise new ways of handling the organisation of society and the economy based on real needs identified by means of a consultation process. The processes triggered off by this have been leading to the emergence of a new way of approaching progress from a more general viewpoint based on simple, easily applicable and easily transposable methods.
The territories of co-responsibility were inspired in particular by the Strategy for Social Cohesion and the second European Urban Charter, drawn up by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, which calls for measures that establish the link between citizenship, solidarity and knowledge. Other schemes have been adopted in response to the same concerns such as Transition Towns and local pacts.
By hosting the first meeting of Territories of co-responsibility on 25 September 2009, the Council of Europe and the city of Mulhouse, which has played a pioneering role in the process, are offering all those who share this concern an opportunity to get together and talk, drawing on the practical real-life experiences which they will hear about at the meeting, the lessons that can be learned from these and the new prospects that they open up. Thought will also be given to the best way of establishing a network which will enable the development of complementary approaches, facilitate exchange and turn the results of the pilot projects into more generally applicable political and methodological reference points.
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