General theme of the Meeting
Four years after the 3rd International Meeting of Braine-l'Alleud, which focused on the expectations and initiatives of citizens to ensure the well-being of all in the long term, it seems essential to focus the debate on the responsibility of public authorities and their capacity to ensure this same objective. Indeed, in a world in deep crisis where citizens' initiatives and movements are becoming increasingly widespread, the gap is widening between their expectations in the face of emerging problems and the ability of public authorities to respond effectively to these problems within the limits of available means. More than ever, the question of the mode of governance is being raised with the concern to: 1) develop more efficient ways of doing things by taking better account of complementarities and multifunctionalities; and 2) go beyond reactive postures in the face of problems to develop more proactive and anticipatory attitudes, based on visions of the future that bring hope, built in a participatory manner and serve as a shared reference for (re)mobilising energies. Co-responsibility is a transversal response to these questions and the TOGETHER network has had more than 12 years of positive experiences in different countries that can fuel debates and help build solutions at the local and global level. That’s why the general theme of the Meeting will be governance for the well-being of all through co-responsibility at two levels: 1)- The territorial and inter-territorial level of governance; 2)- The international level, including international solidarity.
Objective of the 4th meeting
The objective of the 4th Meeting of Territories of Co-responsibility will therefore be to hold an international debate on the modes of governance to be promoted in the face of the emerging problems of the modern world to which there is no sufficient response, such as :
- climate change and related problems, whether social (worsening inequalities, exclusion, poverty, refugees, migration), ecological (diminishing water resources, food and health problems, overpopulation) or democratic (tolerance, respect for diversity, access to fundamental rights).
- the urgency of the transition to local economies without fossil fuels.
The aim will be to highlight, on the basis of concrete experiences already existing or to be carried out, how co-responsibility between public authorities, citizens and civil society is a necessary way to overcome deadlock situations in the face of an uncertain and increasingly dark future. More generally, how it enables a more relevant and efficient response to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for 2030.
Co-responsibility for the sustainable well-being of all will therefore be at the heart of the Meeting. Concrete solutions will be sought on key themes. We will focus on three main themes:
- How co-responsibility between public authorities, civil society and citizens enables social, humanitarian and development aid to be rethought in a much more efficient way by integrating aid, local development, social cohesion and ecological transition. This theme will be based on the experiences of TOGETHER members, particularly in Wallonia, Romania, Cape Verde and Gabon.
- How to tackle the problems of refugees and migration in a proactive and anticipatory way through co-responsibility between territories of origin and host territories and how to organise it. Examples of decentralised cooperation between territories will feed this theme, such as those set up between Portugal and Cape Verde or between Belgium and Morocco.
- Faced with challenges on a global scale, how can we overcome the obstacles to building global co-responsibility involving citizens and governments? How can the co-construction of a shared vision of the well-being of all and the ways to achieve it in a sustainable way, as developed by the TOGETHER network since the 2000s, contribute to overcoming these obstacles?
Preparation of the meeting
As in the third meeting in 2015-2016, several preparatory meetings will be organized during the year 2020: one on each of the three themes mentioned above. The objective is to have pre-conclusions on the three key themes and their implications in terms of public policies before the meeting so that they can be debated at the meeting itself.
Course of the meeting
The meeting will be carried out in two stages:
- In the first two-day session at the Fernando Pessoa University of Porto, the pre-conclusions of the three themes above and their implications will be debated and the authorities concerned will be invited to the meeting. The aim will be to identify a general framework for good governance, discussed and refined during the meeting, to be promoted as a conclusion of this first phase.
- In a second phase of 3 days at Piaget University in Cape Verde, the aim will be to specify the concrete application of this framework by taking the example of Cape Verde, which has 20 years of experience of a co-responsibility approach in fighting poverty. Representatives of other south countries interested in using it as a model for their own public policies, as well as cooperation and international aid funding agencies, will be invited to attend.
In addition, the 4th International Meeting of Territories of Co-responsibility is the time for the 4th General Assembly of the TOGETHER network. This is why all the members of the network will be invited. The General Assembly will also be held in two parts:
- In Porto, a pre-GA with the majority of the members and delegation of powers for those who will not be able to travel to Cape Verde;
- In Cape Verde, the final GA with the different delegates.
The 4th International Meeting of Territories of Co-responsibility will also be the occasion to hold the annual seminar-training of SPIRAL energisers, which will be organised prior to the meeting itself in order to take stock of the progress made in the SPIRAL methodology and refine SPIRAL trainings
There is currently no funding for this meeting or for the preliminary meetings. Funding will be sought in February from the Citizens' Europe programme, which has already funded the CO-ACTE project. In addition, funding from IFAD is envisaged for the meeting in Cape Verde through the ACVER association.
Costs will be minimized through the systematic use of new information and communication technologies. Travel costs will, as far as possible, be covered by membership fees.
In addition to the members of the network, TOGETHER already has several partners for the realization of the 4th International Meeting, in particular :
- The Master in Humanitarian Action, Cooperation and Development of the Fernando Pessoa University of Porto, with which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in June 2019. Training in the SPIRAL approach is carried out within the framework of this Master's degree, close cooperation will be ensured in the preparation of the contents of the 4th International Meeting of Territories of Co-responsibility and the Fernando Pessoa University will make its premises available for its implementation.
- The Piaget University in Cape Verde will make its premises available for the Meeting in Cape Verde and will participate in its preparation (to be confirmed).
- The Association ACVER in Portugal will support the meeting in Cape Verde (to be confirmed).
- Partnerships will also be established with governments, international aid funding agencies and other partners interested in the theme. As the preparation of the meeting progresses, the partnership will be extended to other organisations directly or indirectly concerned by the themes addressed (United Nations agencies, cooperation bodies, NGOs, etc.).