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CO-ACTE Kick-off meeting
Odemira Septembre 2015, 28th & 29th
Kick-Off Meeting Report


On September 2015, the 28th and 29th ,CO-ACTE Project key partners gathered at CARMEN Centre, near Odemira (Portugal). Several representatives of territories and of various initiatives enrolling citizens in territorial approaches (SPIRAL energisers, Agenda 21, Transition movement, Eco-villages, LEADER groups, Zerowaste, ...), members of the Council of Alliances, and thematic subnets referents also took part in. See the list of participants in Annex 1.

In accordance with the requierements laid down in the programm (Annex 2), the meeting was divided into 5 sessions:

  • Session 1 : The CO-ACTE project and its objectives
  • Session 2 : Project Methodology
  • Session 3 : First phase Methodology
  • Session 4 : Sharing of responsibilities
  • Session 5 : Task planning

Here follows a summary report presenting the conclusions of the various sessions.

Session 1: The CO-ACTE project and its objectives

Sharing CO-ACTE's objectives with the participants

Thinking progress not in terms of permanent increased wealth quantified by the GDP but in terms of ability to live together on the same planet has become, more than ever in the history of humanity, obvious and necessary. Almost everywhere in Europe and in the world, initiatives emerge to (re) build the capacity to live together at the local level, thinking about the present and the future. Several of them gather around the SPIRAL approach, which is based on a definition of well-being elaborated by the citizens. They are also involved in networks such as the Transition movement, Eco-villages, Agenda 21, Zerowaste movement, social cohesion plans and decentralized local development approaches such as LEADER’s one and many others. All share a common desire to start from local residents and local stakeholders to build together, in a spirit of cooperation and co-responsibility, an inclusive society where progress towards the well-being of all and for future generations would become an evidence shared by all.

However, all have to face the need to go beyond a local approach:

  • Need to exchange experiences in order to go further in social transformation and co-responsibility in the territories.
  • Need to reformulate policies and legal frameworks to sustain the results and to instill co-responsibility for the well-being of all in the normal functioning of society, at all levels.

The CO-ACTE project, led by the TOGETHER Network, aims to launch a broad process of reflection with citizens and local actors in territories involved to meet these needs and to open up the answers to global debates about Europe and the future society. CO-ACT aims to build on SPIRAL approach achievements and on other similar initiatives to create citizen dynamic building policy proposals that encourage co-responsibility for the welfare of all, without discrimination, for today and tomorrow.

Eight meetings will be held until the end of 2016 to succeed with this wager. They lead to the Third Meeting of the Co-responsibility Territories, in Braine l'Alleud in November 2016, from the 2nd to the 5th, where the previously discussed results will be presented to European politicians invited to endorse them.

All participants introduced themselves and specified their interests and contributions to the project. It should be noted that this debate goes beyond the European borders and concerns humanity as a whole. This is why all the meetings will remain opened to other countries initiatives representatives, as it was the case during this first meeting (with the presence of two SPIRAL energisers from Tunisia and Cape Verde).

What would make the mobilization of Braine l'Alleud a successful meeting?

To understand what is expected of this project, an exercise was done to define what would make the mobilization of Braine l’Alleud a successful meeting. Here follow the answers:

  • The mobilization of policy makers
  • The presence of the media
  • The implementation of proposals and concrete objectives for the renewal of the MDGs
  • Set up a “research-action” approach
  • Expanding TOGETHER network, in a partnership-oriented way.

For more details, please see the meeting presentation

Presentation of successful examples of public policies developing co-responsibility attitudes

To better understand the scope of CO-ACT goals, four examples of public policies encouraging co-responsibility initiatives were presented:

  • The PCS in Wallonia
  • The example of Cape Verde
  • The experience of Dariacordar in Portugal
  • Public policies for time banks in the UK.

Session 2: Project Methodology

Presentation of the methodology

The project methodology was presented, as it had been thought at the preparatory meeting in August. Compared to the project initial version, several elements have been introduced, including:

  • Based on Delphi Method, returning to citizens in territories, after developing comprehensive syntheses, to invite them to read it and add any other ideas / suggestions if necessary. Several round trips could thus be made after the meeting of Bordeaux and until the meeting of Braine l'Alleud, enabling a real exchange between territories and initiatives in the project.
  • Initiating the debate with policy makers well before Braine l'Alleud and even from the Bordeaux meeting, in order to quickly see together how to best formulate policy recommendations and legal frameworks the CO-ACTE project will produce.
  • Working together with the media, to improve the communication aspect.

Debate and Conclusions

The main conclusions that emerged from the debate are:

  • It is not to consider policy makers as adversaries but as partners with whom the project seeks to create an alliance. In other words, CO-ACT project is to expand a co-responsibility approach for the well-being of all beyond the local level, by including other levels (regional, national, European, global) which also have to assume responsibility for their part.
  • This is a long term process that will not stop at the Third International Meeting in Braine-l'Alleud, but this latter will be a key moment to ensure continuity of the dialogue. This inscription in time is essential to build a society that is moving towards shared responsibility for the well-being of today and tomorrow.
  • It is necessary to clearly identify the interlocutors we deal with, in order to choose the right way to speak with them. For instance, a difference is to be considered between politicians and techno-structures. This also raises the problem of a governance concretely allowing a real approach of co-responsibility and openness, beyond the questionable pre-established frameworks.

Session 3: First phase Methodology

Adaptation of the methodology to the context

The project first phase, which starts just after the meeting, is the citizens mobilization in the territories. Discussions focused on how to expand this implication to the largest number of territories, considering the different progress stages, interest and approaches.

A distinction has been done between the territories who developed SPIRAL approach and those who have never done it. Then, a second distinction has been made between the territorial platforms level (multi-stakeholder platforms that develop their activities in the territory and therefore think in terms of territorial processes) and the citizen groups level.

  • Concerning the territorial level, the project proposes to evaluate the process (corresponding to SPIRAL 8th Phase) by asking three questions:
  1. What did you achieve in the coresponsibility for the well-being of all today and tomorrow in your territory and what were the success factors?
  2. What important element was not possible to achieve and and would be important to get, and what are the obstacles, needs to get there?
  3. If you had the power to influence political decisions, what would be the first measure you take to achieve the co-responsibility between all actors, so as to ensure the well-being of all and respecting the future generations? (This is the central issue of CO-ACT)
  • For citizen groups, the project proposes to start from their own well-being perceptions by asking 3 opened questions with SPIRAL method and adding a fourth question, specific to CO-ACT:
  1. What does well-being mean to you?
  2. What does ill-being mean to you?
  3. What do you already do or would like to do for your well-being and the well-being of all?
  4. If you were a decision-maker, what would be the first measure you would take to achieve co-responsibility for the well-being of all?

If it is still possible to re-mobilize a same citizen group, the first three questions will not be asked for a second time. In every other case, if the citizen group is a new one, the first three questions must be asked.

Citizen groups organization

Citizens groups will be as homogenous as possible, composed of 7 to 12 people, as in SPIRAL method (making the dialogue easier, spotting differences in the expectations, etc). Also as in SPIRAL method, it will build an individual and collective vision in compliance with the rules of direct democracy through the post-it method.

Concerning the 4th question, a collective synthesis will be done freely, given the fact that there is still no classification grid to organize the answers, unlike the classification grid for the well-being/ill-being questions, based on 10 years of application. Thus, while for the first 3 questions each group will have to class the post-its with the existing grid for the first 3 questions, each one will create its own groups of similar answers, as "potatoes" (see photos), for the last question.

We remain therefore on a similar shape that SPIRAL’s one: everyone can freely express their opinion (post-it) and whatever questions we take, we keep Spiral approach (individual, potatoes with names entered in the wiki). It will allow a pre-coding of materials for the Alliances Council.

Questions formalization Rules

A long discussion followed on how to best formulate the specific CO-ACTE question (the 3rd one for territorial level and the 4th one in groups of citizens): should we specify the kind of policy maker? Do we need to talk about shared responsibility, rather than what we would do if we were the decision maker?

The decision was made to stay as far as possible with the formalization as it is now, leaving everyone the opportunity to adapt, depending on the situation. It is important to properly keep a track of the way the question was asked by adding it in the database (see below the data entry). When the European and global synthesis will be realized, it will be possible to build a first classification grid for the fourth question. The project could eventually lead to an analysis grid of co-responsibility criteria, having the same universality as the well-being criteria classification grid.

Resource kit

To help everyone to implement the method in its territory, a resource kit was developed by the Webmaster Together, Joel Obrecht. The first presentation was made during the meeting and the kit is currently available online in 3 languages; French, English and Portuguese.

The educational kit was designed to allow all stakeholders and citizens, whoever they are, to participate in the project, from field workers, researchers, to policy makers, knowing or not SPIRAL method.

Data entry

As for well-being criteria, all the answers will be collected and added into a database on Wikispiral. For more information see the Resource kit.

Sessions 4 and 5: Sharing responsibilities and tasks planning

To clarify the respective responsibilities of everyone involved in the conduct of the project, participants were divided into 3 groups: 1) territorial actors (including SPIRAL energisers); 2) The Council of Alliances; and 3) the thematic subnets supervisors. Following all the decisions taken by each group:

Territories actors:

Each participant was able to clarify what he could do in the first phase of the project, either in its territory or in other territories/initiatives he or she can mobilize in his country. It is sum up in the Mobilizing citizens in the territories Table and must be completed in the course of the project progresses.

This table will thus serve to monitor what was planned to do and what is actually achieved. Based on these data, synthesis of the project advancements will be realized to be presented at Bordeaux meeting in February 2016, the 5th & 6th. A responsibilities sharing has been established between those who are already familiar with the process and can give methodological support and even training, including data entry (like SPIRAL energisers and facilitators) and those who provide the local organization.

The Council of Alliances

9 members of the Council of Alliances discussed its objectives and tasks as well as its role in the CO-ACTE project. It was agreed that a unifying text will be commonly written about it. Mrs Gilda Farrell’s task is to provide the first version of this text, currently available in the Council of Alliances Space. Once completed and validated by other members, this text will be a useful tool for Council of Alliances’ activities, including for the classification grid that should be created to analyze citizens ‘answers about CO-ACTE questions and to build a European synthesis of the process. With this work, concrete policy proposals will more easily and clearly emerge. More information on the Council of Alliances ‘policy and research project are available ((Project policy and research and Covenants Council | here)).

Thematic subnets supervisors:

During the project, five thematic subnets meetings are planned. Each meeting will gather between 25 to 50 participants for two subnets (two topics), coming from 4 to 6 countries.

The objective is both to enrich CO-ACTE policy proposals and to revitalize the thematic networks.

Guests for each topic:

  • The territories working on the theme, including those with particularly interesting experiences, whether or not they are TOGETHER.
  • Civil society organizations, specialized on the topic
  • Possibly one or a few key experts
  • Liaise with local experiences on the theme
  • Possibly politicians and media representatives to clarify the dialogue on the topic.

To ensure good participation, it is suggested to make a general communication in all networks to ask on which of the 10 themes they would like to collaborate and share experiences, opinions, etc.

It is not only about inviting people to a meeting, it is also about inviting them to join a network. These meetings are key moments to build a concrete network dynamic, hence the importance of the preparation ahead and the work valuation downstream.

Preparation ahead of the meeting: Each thematic subnet has its own web-pages, which are a permanent place to find information on the subnet evolution. The guideline is co-responsibility for the well-being of all on the specific subject. We can find there :

  • Some information on the subnet history and activities
  • The list of members
  • The results, including the framework for progressing towards the well-being of all in the theme.

Dynamic uptsream: We must also think about the meeting dynamics and its suites (to start the network dynamics about the public policies proposed by citizens). Logistics aspects: Logistically, each meeting is organized by the local partner, in partnership with TOGETHER. Invitations are offered by the thematic supervisor of each theme. The two Thematics subnets supervisors have to choose the guests together. The official languages will be English and French, simultaneously translated + the host country language.

Thematic subnets meetings preparation following: To help thematic sub-networks supervisors to drive the process and exchange with each other, a Thematic Supervisors Space? was created, where everyone can share its activities, questions and answers. In accordance with the wishes expressed at the meeting, a schedule could be found there, for subnets supervisors to edit reminders and mails. Furthermore, a new subnets supervisors meeting will be held on the occasion of Bordeaux‘s meeting in February 2016 (5th-6th), to take stock of what has already been done and what remains to be done for each subnet and clarify the meetings preparation.

Annex 1: Participants List


Annexe 2: The meeting’s program

Day 1 (Monday, September 28)

8:30: Breakfast 9h00: Welcome speech by Mrs. Deolinda Seno Luis, City Councillor and representative of Odemira Mayor

Session 1: The CO-ACTE project and its objectives

9.15: General presentation of TOGETHER, the SPIRAL approach and its main achievements, and the CO-ACTE project and its objectives 9.30: Go around the table: each one introduces him/herself and gives his/her views on the project 10.30: Synthesis of the objectives and description of the ideal form of the Third Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility that will take place in Braine-l’Alleud 10.45: Concrete examples of new public policies and legal frameworks that have been successful in terms of co-responsibility: the UK for time banks, Cape Verde for consultation structures, PCS in Wallonia, Dari Acordar’s experience (10 minutes per presentation) 11.15: Coffee break

Session 2: Project methodology

11.30: Presentation of the proposed project methodology (outcome of the preparatory meeting of August 21-23) 11.45: Discussion on the proposed methodology: is it consistent with the expected final result and the abilities and availability of the participants? Identification of pending issues that require more reflection 12.00: Group workshop, small reflection and resolution groups on pending issues 13.00: Lunch on site 14.00: Synthesis and validation of a common methodological framework

Session 3: Methodology of Phase 1

15.00: Methodology for the first phase of the project - General presentation: issues proposed for each territory - Indoor experimentation, in small groups 15h45 : Coffee break 16.00: Synthesis of the exercise and reflection on the conduct of Phase 1 – Formation of a working group to formalise the instructional kit for each territory – to be discussed again the next day Session 4: Sharing of responsibilities 17.00: Towards a shared responsibility for the realisation of the project: exercice with post-it notes “What can I do?”, organised in 3 groups: 1) Representatives of the territories; 2) Referent persons for the thematic networks; 3) Council of Alliances 17.30: Synthesis in each group and reflection with a view to clarifying the role of each one for the next day 18.00: End of work – moment of relaxation or work in group 19.30: Diner on site and conviviality From 21.30: transport to the accommodation

Day 2 (Tuesday 29th September)

8.30: Breakfast on site

Complement to session 3 (methodology Phase 1)

9.00: Back to the methodology of Phase 1: - Presentation of the proposed instructional kit - Discussion on the benefits, the difficulties and the dissemination strategy in the territories - Potentially, workshop in small groups of reflection to find solutions - Synthesis and validation

Complement to session 4 (sharing of responsibilities)

10.00: Role of the Council of Alliances for the synthesis and feedbacks to the territories (2nd meeting in February and follow-up) - presentation by the group, issues raised, answers and pending questions to be specified later - sharing of responsabilities for the revitalisation of the Council of Alliances 10.45: Coffee break 11.00: Role of the thematic sub-networks: - Presentation by the group of referent persons (15 minutes), then by thematic sub-network, on how to organise the thematic sub-networks and the scheduled meetings (15 minutes per scheduled meeting – 5) - Discussion and validation 13.00: Lunch on site

Session 5: Preparation of the Third Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility

14.30: Proposal from the City of Braine-l’Alleud and the Wallon Region, discussion and validation

Session 6 : Task planning

15.00: Schedule the tasks for the project and Phase 1 - GANTT 17.00: End of work

Meeting Pictures

Back to CO-ACTE Project main page

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