Building the Co-responsibility Associating the Citizens of Territories in Europe
Preparation: June-July August 2015 Starting date: 01/09/2015 Closing date: 31/12/2016
The project CO-ACTE follows on from a 10 years process of civic expression for an individual and collective establishment of a shared vision of well-being of all, from local to European scale. This process has experienced, capitalized and extended participatory methods of structuration of a co-responsibility between the public and private actors and the citizens in the view of the well-being of all and of promotion of an inclusive, cohesive and sustainable society at a local and European scale. Initiated by the European Council on projects partly co-financed by the European Union, this process is today taken over by the network TOGETHER which formally and informally gathers all the participating territories called “co-responsibility territories” (around 300 in 20 countries) and their local actors (citizens, public authorities, private actors) or regional actors involved in this process. The co-construction of a shared vision of the well-being of all from the expectations of more than 12000 citizens organized in 1200 groups of 7 to 12 citizens in 20 countries is one of the major achievements of the network.
CO-ACTE aims to create a citizen movement to formalize public policies proposals incentivising co-responsibility for the well-being of all in Europe without any discrimination or exclusion. After a first information-gathering phase of proposals from the citizens of the territories which participated in the process and other citizens, these proposals will be analysed and classified by the Scientific Committee/Alliances Committee of Together and then by thematic citizen’s initiative’s networks that will structure them in their thematic area.
These proposals will finally be presented and debated during the third International Meeting of TOGETHER at Braine-l’Alleud in Brussels in November 2016 to which all the territories of co-responsibility and the main National and European politic leaders will be invited.
The stages of the project
To achieve its objectives, the project CO-ACTE will be developed in 4 stages:
1- A mobilization stage and of proposition-making by the citizens. Will be called the 300 TOGETHER’s “territories of co-responsibility” to make them mobilise the 1200 homogenous groups and the 12000 citizens part of it (or others citizens if the homogeneous groups don’t exist any more) to invite them to take note of the European synthesis of all the criteria of well-being and ill-being collected since 2006 in order to work together on public policies proposals responding to these criteria, focussing on policies promoting co-responsibility for the well-being of all. The method used will follow the same principles than the one which has already proven its effectiveness for the individual and collective vision of the well-being of all and will be clarified during the kick-off meeting of the project with representatives of the territories in every country.
2- An analysis phase of these public policies proposals with the help of the TOGETHER’s Scientific Committee/Alliances Council, on the basis of its political project of research on co-responsibility. In this phase the proposals will be classified by theme when it is relevant to do so, and transmitted to the respective thematic sub-networks to complete them.
3- A mobilisation stage of the associative and collective actors aiming at:
- mobilising the largest number of citizen’s and of civil society’s initiatives giving them the chance to join thematic sub-networks about the or several themes that particularly interest them
- for each thematic sub-network, do the review (impacts/relevance, difficulties and solution to overcome them) of the citizens’ initiatives, of the reference frameworks for the co-responsibility on the theme and of the experimentations already done and identify the new initiatives to develop and their carriers
- identify, on this basis, the proposals for public policies which answer the better to the need to develop an approach of co-responsibility on each of the themes, and in a tranversal way.
- see how these proposals articulate with the ones made by the citizens and enrich them, and formalise synthesis which will be carried to the European level.
Five meetings are scheduled gathering 10 sub-thematic networks combined by pair according to complementarities between themes.
4- Diffusion and political dialogue phase to an European level, in particular with the Third International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility which will be held in Braine-l’Alleud (near Brussels), to which will participate all the members of the network. All of the proposals will be presented and discussed with the national and European public authorities also invited to draw conclusions on what is practicable in a short, medium and long term.
The whole process, its results and the open perspectives will systematically be published on the collaborative WEB site http://wikispiralorg with the objectives: a. *To give visibility to a global political project for Europe centred on the idea of societal progress towards the capacity to ensure the well-being of all, future generations included, through co-responsibility; b. *To serve as a reference for the dialogue between citizens and public authorities involved in Braine-l’Alleud.
The project has scheduled 8 meetings (see Annex 1 for the detailed description of each meeting)
The kick off meeting will held from the 28th to the 29th of September in the territory of Odemira (Portugal) where the seat of Together lies. The methodology for the whole project and especially for the first phase will be specified: give to the 12.000 citizens European synthesis of their vision of well-being of all and development, on this basis, of proposals of public policies encouraging co-responsibility for the well-being of all. Will be invited the representatives of territories wishing to participate. To read the kick-off meeting report, click here.
These proposals will be collected then analysed and organised par themes by the Scientific Committee/Alliances Council of Together which will gather at the head office of Together France in Bordeaux from the 5th to the 7th of February 2016. They will be then transferred to 10 thematic sub-networks of civil society organizations working on a specific theme. These thematic sub-networks will complete these proposals with their own and will gather per pair in the coordinating city of one of the sub-networks: - Gloucester (UK) from 25 to 27 March 2016 for the “Time Management and services exchanges” and “Inter-locality” sub-thematic networks.
- Kavala (Greece) from 22 to 24 April 2016 for the Health” and “Elderly people” sub-thematic networks.
- Timisoara (Romania) from 27 to 29 May 2016 for “Access to food” and “Re-use of ressources” sub-thematic networks.
- Viana do Castelo (Portugal) from 24 to 26 June 2016 for the “Access to mobility” and “Participative space management” sub-thematic networks.
- Chieri (Italia) from 23 to 26 September 2016 for the “Common good management” and “Access to employment” sub-thematic networks. All these proposal will then be carried to the Third International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility in Braine-l’Alleud (Belgium) from 2 to 5 November 2016 to be presented and to develop the dialogue with public authorities, in particular European authorities. The project will end with the online publication of synthesis documents in order to communicate about the project and to diffuse the obtained results.
Role of TOGETHER
TOGETHER, International Network of Territories of Coresponsibility is an independent non-profit organisation informally created in 2009 then formally in 2013, driven by the Council of Europe. In practice, Together and its members have been working for years (some since 2005) to the development of a collaborative citizens-based approach that aim to develop co-responsibility between public authorities, citizens and private actors in order to ensure the well-being of all, without discrimination or exclusion, and taking into account future generations (linked to the sustainable development). This approach, named SPIRAL (Societal Progress Indicators for the Responsibility of All) is based on the development of a shared view of the well-being of all with the citizens from the local level to the global level, allowing, beside local dynamics of co-decision, co-action and co-evaluation, to have key indicators on the citizens’ expectations and on the actions’ impacts on different territorial levels. Applied in more than 300 territories and counting around 100.000 citizens’ criteria of well-being, this approach was gradually refined from experimentations and suggestion coming from the field.
TOGETHER Network ensures today the on-going capitalisation of SPIRAL achievements. A collaborative wiki WEB site (http://wikispiral.org) allows sharing, mutualisation as well as the cross-fertilisation of experiences and citizens’ initiatives resulting directly or not from this process. These experiences and initiatives has been structured in 10 sub-thematic networks, which have each elaborated a common reference framework facilitating the exchanges and the cross-fertilisation of the know-how.
CO-ACTE project will achieve the next step of this process, namely to draw from these achievements proposals for public policies on the basis of citizens’ words. These proposals will be formalised and completed in every themes and then integrated in the European-level debate.
Contribution to the public debate in Europe
CO-ACTE project aims to follow up the participatory process of co-construction of a shared vision of the well-being of all which has been developing for 10 years, involving more than 12,000 citizens from more than 300 territories in around 20 countries, including 15 in Europe. This process named SPIRAL was initiated by the Council of Europe within the framework of its strategy for social cohesion and has been taken over by TOGETHER, the network of territories applying it. It has been conducted from the local level to the European one with successive syntheses which have integrated Europe’s geographical, cultural, language and social diversity (see wikispiral.org). By proposing the 12,000 citizens who participated in this process or other citizens who are willing to join us now -and thus base themselves on the shared vision of the well-being of all defined at the European level- to all think together about European policy proposals that would be in line with this vision and foster co-responsibility, the CO-ACTE project enables the expression of a true civic and democratic participation from the local level to the European one.
By also involving researchers and civil society organisations who work on key topics such as access to food, health, employment, mobility, the participatory space management, common goods, reuse of resources, exchanges and forms of mutual assistance, etc., CO-ACTE project helps to both formalise and enrich the proposals that will have been made, while boosting the sub-networks working on these topics.
By promoting dialogue with policy makers on the basis of these proposals, the project also provides a virtuous link between the citizens and Europe’s governing bodies.
Lastly, by making this process part of a systematised approach, the project gives the opportunity to make it also part of the functioning of the European Union in the long-term.
The project therefore contribute to put the European values in a vision for the future, one of a society which is able to ensure the well-being of all -without exclusion nor discrimination- including future generations as well, by proving the feasibility, the efficiency and the relevance of a co-responsibility approach (defined as being the shared and widespread feeling and practice of a collective responsibility and its systemisation in the political, legal and socio-economic organisation of society) in order to move towards this objective. The evaluations carried out by TOGETHER and its members have highlighted the added social and societal value of such a process. Co-responsibility helps to overcome the obstacles related to the compartmentalisation of resources by pooling them and thus by enabling their full use and a fairer distribution. It enables to reach major components of well-being as expressed by the citizens such as: acknowledgement, to have a place and a role in society (social inclusion), feeling useful, feeling of belonging to a global community, solidarity, good relation with public institutions, confidence (in themselves, in others, in institutions, in the future), etc. As a consequence, co-responsibility has a significant effect in citizen engagement, especially for those who have lost confidence and hope and who have been marginalised, so that they can come back into society and Europe.
Communication and dissemination tools
Our main dissemination tool is the website wikispiral.org. This website, operating on the wiki mode, is available to all (for reading) and to the members of the TOGETHER network (for editing). In this website, you can find the methodological principles of the SPIRAL approach, the members’ activities, the topics of discussion, the events, and the results pooled in real time in the database which is statistically exploitable. This participatory website enables the use of a large number of interactive multimedia tools and reflects to a large extent the work that has already been done by all the actors of the network. It will enable the dissemination of all the work done by the thematic sub-networks and the members of the CO-ACTE project. Each participant will be able to intervene by posting comments, proposals in the form of text, photo, film… The website will be dynamic all along the project and will be managed by the network’s Secretariat. A presence on social networks (Twitter, Facebook) will also increase the visibility of the project and its outcomes.
Furthermore, during each thematic meeting, the structure hosting the event will use part of the budget allocated to the communication about the event, in the form of information letters, local media announcement through press release, posters, leaflets… This will help interest civil society and local institutions in the project, in order to enrich the discussion and build partnerships. The reports of the meetings will be published on wikispiral.org and in newsletters as well.
The Third International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility in Braine l’Alleud will mark the end of the project and will mobilise a wide variety of participants: representatives of citizens groups which participated in the project, representatives all the territories of co-responsibility, formal or informal members of the network, other partners of the CO-ACTE project, representatives of the public authority at the European and local levels, representatives of other approaches that are close to a co-responsibility approach like the cities in the Transition network, Agenda 21, CittaSlow, etc., will be invited. Communication activities will also be carried out at the local level so that the meeting be a forum for discussion with the inhabitants.
A summary document will be drafted following this meeting, published on the website and downloadable. This document will be made in a collaborative way with the participation of the members of the network, the Scientific Committee/Alliances Council and various external contributions from experts and citizens. This document will synthetize all activities and outputs of the CO-ACTE project in a true political agenda which will be composed of the different policy proposals drawn up during CO-ACTE. Its dissemination and translation in each language of the 8 participating countries will enable each one of them to present this political agenda to national and regional political actors. It will also be disseminated in hard copy and digital versions to the largest number of associations and local communities possible, thus forming a reservoir of ideas and practices to implement for a co-responsible citizen participation. Effort will be made for readability and presentation in order to make this document as much educational and didactic as possible.
CO-ACT aims to transform the achievements of years of experience of TOGETHER network and its members (over 300 territories involved, a co-constructed participatory approach -SPIRAL- a vision of wellbeing developed with citizens serving as a reference both at the local and the European level) in a society project mobilizing European citizens and carrying a vision of the future: that of co-responsibility as a path of progress towards a better capacity to ensure the well-being of all without compromising that of future generations. It proposes an alternative to GDP as an indicator of growth, echoing it’s questioning, and it opens new prospects for progress in particular regarding citizen participation, the intangible dimensions of well-being and a better allocation and use of resources, making it competitive in the long term.
The effects of CO-ACT at the medium and long term are therefore potentially very important, which may create a "snowball" effect by the adherence of an exponential number of citizens and actors on a European scale to a society project offering them the possibility of a more balanced and meaningful life. Its actual effects, however, will depend on the quality of the process that will be conducted and the ability to overcome cultural, institutional, socio-economic and political barriers to it’s development. That is why the participation of different actors in this project will be fundamental: citizens (1st phase) to propose public policies in a collaborative citizen approach, the Scientific Committee/Alliances Council (2nd phase) to seat the project and what it implies in terms of concepts and methods, collective actors and associations of civil society (3rd phase) to implement and clarify the public policy needs in different themes, public authorities (fourth phase) to identify together what is possible to do and how.
The diversity of the actors involved will be the key factor of success. Thus, the Scientific Committee/ Alliances Council should be able to mobilize the various disciplines in which specific research is to be conducted (ethics, psychology, economics, political science, etc.). Also the diversity of citizens' initiatives will allow identifying the best policies to promote (legal, fiscal policy frameworks, etc.), sometimes existing in some countries and that could serve as examples. Finally, dialogue with public authorities will be even more effective for involving different territorial levels, from local to European.
In quantitative terms, the number of citizens who have so far participated directly in the process is about 12000 (1200 groups of 7 to 12 people) and indirectly over 100,000. CO-ACT will create the conditions for rapid expansion. The number of citizen initiatives is about 120 and should be multiplied by at least 10, bringing to at least 90% the percentage of participants not involved in NGOs prior to their involvement in the project. The number of universities and research centres involved, currently 6 should exceed 50 and the number of public partners increase not only quantitatively (over 1000) and qualitatively, for better representation of regional, national and European level.