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History of TOGETHER's activities

This page presents a brief summary and assessment of the history of TOGETHER, the International Network of Territories of Co-responsibility, since its formation in the 2000s, its official creation in 2013 and its situation 10 years later in 2023.

  • TOGETHER positions itself as an international network of local, regional and national players seeking to respond to the social, societal and ecological challenges of the 21st century, based on the observation that only a citizen-based approach will be able to meet these challenges.
  • The aim is to construct a voice for local and global citizens beyond the many tensions and forms of manipulation that sterilise any possibility of collective thought. It's a question of (re)finding the authenticity of introspective and forward-looking thinking, both individual and collective, capable of bringing out and implementing the solutions that will enable us to move towards a just and peaceful world that respects living spaces and natural ecosystems, and to avoid, while there's still time, ecological, climatic and humanitarian disasters with immeasurable consequences.
  • The projects carried out by the network have demonstrated the effectiveness of such an approach. However, they have also highlighted the difficulties involved in gaining formal recognition for this approach, given that it calls into question modes of operation and governance that cannot accommodate it. So we need to look for ways to leverage change in public policy and create a snowball effect, once again with the help of citizens. This is the challenge that the TOGETHER Network and its partners are trying to meet as best they can, and which is summarised below.


  • The TOGETHER network was born out of the need to reposition progress towards a goal of well-being for all, which can only be defined by the citizens themselves (well-being is a matter for each individual) and can only be achieved through solidarity and co-responsibility between the various players, public and private, and citizens. This observation has led to the concept of territories of shared responsibility, originally promoted by the Council of Europe, in line with its social cohesion strategy.
  • In 2005-2006, the city of Mulhouse (France) experimented with an approach to promote co-responsibility for the well-being of all, based on the well-being and malaise expressed by citizens. This was the start of the SPIRAL participative territorial approach.

Initial projects (before the official creation of the network)

  • Thanks to various projects, the approach has been extended to other areas, increasing the number of players involved in developing and progressively improving the methodology.
See the projects
  • Le projet TOGETHER (programme européen URBACT)

Le réseau TOGETHER a été lancé de manière informelle dans le cadre d'un projet financé par le programme européen URBACT. Conçu à la suite de la première Rencontre Internationale des Territoires de Coresponsabilité (Mulhouse, septembre 2009), ce projet visait à développer la démarche de coresponsabilité pour le bien-être de tous, initiée à Mulhouse, dans huit villes pilotes de huit pays européens. Ce projet a été l'occasion de jeter les bases du réseau, notamment la Charte des Territoires de Coresponsabilité Click here for more information.

  • The IRIS project

In 2007, a project co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, in partnership with the Inter-Réseau des Initiatives Ethiques et Solidaires (IRIS), launched the approach in Timisoara (Romania), Rovereto (Italy) and Paris (France).)

  • The Rural Poverty Reduction Programme (PLPR) in Cape Verde

In 2008, the SPIRAL approach was applied for the first time on a large scale (almost 300 village communities in Cape Verde) as part of the PLPR, leading to the development of the first classification grid for well-being criteria and the first data processing software for producing summaries (ESPOIR software), as well as the first participatory impact assessments Click here for more information.

  • The well-being indicators project in Wallonia (Belgium)

From 2009 to 2011, Wallonia's Interdepartmental Directorate for Social Cohesion launched a project to develop well-being indicators in partnership with the Walloon Institute for Prospective Studies and Statistics (IWEPS) and the Council of Europe. 15 municipalities took part in the project. The grid has been tested and refined, and the method for developing the indicators has been finalised Click here for more information?.

  • The extension of the project to a large number of territories has opened up the prospect of an international network of Territories of Co-responsibility

The Council of Europe's Action Plan for Social Cohesion and the official creation of the network.

  • In 2010, the Council of Europe launched the Action Plan for Social Cohesion, which includes the creation of an international network of co-responsible territories.
See the activities
  • The SPIRAL approach has been formalised, and the collaborative wikispiral.org website has been set up, where each area of co-responsibility has its own page and all the well-being and malaise criteria expressed by citizens are grouped together in a single database enabling summaries by locality, region, country and at global level.
  • The approach is being rolled out in other interested countries, mainly in Europe (Portugal, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, etc.) and Africa (Gabon, then Morocco and Tunisia, etc.)
  • During the deuxième Rencontre Internationale des Territoires de Coresponsabilité (Mulhouse, novembre 2012) the creation of the TOGETHER network is debated and decided, leading to the support of all the territories participating in the approach.
  • The network was then officially created at the Founding General Assembly on 4 November 2013 at the Palais du Conseil de l'Europe.
  • At the same time, complementary projects are being launched by the Council of Europe, in particular the Responding Together project, the basis of the thematic Sub-Networks?, and the project to combat poverty and exclusion.
  • The resources deployed will enable the SPIRAL methodology to be refined and simplified
See the main stages in the process
  • From 2010, a network of SPIRAL energisers in each country or region has been set up to ensure that the approach is properly disseminated. They meet annually at a training seminar to share their methodological lessons see the minutes of each training seminar here?.
  • The third training seminar (March 2014) was particularly important because it saw the near-final formalisation of the SPIRAL methodology and its considerable simplification through the direct use of the classification grid for well-being and ill-being criteria.
  • The principles of co-construction of intersubjective knowledge and dialogue between the various SPIRAL stakeholders have been formalised for use in issues other than well-being, as well as for participatory impact assessments: the principles of open questions, direct individual expression in writing and then collectively, etc. See these principles by clicking here.
  • The evaluation of Wallonia's Social Cohesion Plans carried out in 2012 provided an opportunity to test the use of the SPIRAL approach on a large scale for participatory impact assessments, by systematising the method on the scale of a municipal and regional area Click here to find out more.

Projects after the creation of the network

  • After its formal constitution, the TOGETHER network developed its activities beyond the dissemination of the SPIRAL territorial approach to promote co-responsibility for the well-being of all future generations, including on a global scale, always based on the voice of citizens.
See the projects
  • Le projet CO-ACTE (2015-2017) uses the principles of the SPIRAL approach to ask citizens about the public policies they consider desirable to ensure the well-being of all, including future generations. The project is divided into four phases: 1) Individual and collective consultations with groups of citizens in different countries, followed by syntheses; 2) Confrontation of the syntheses with public or civil society organisations with a good knowledge of the key themes (grouped into four issues); 3) Development of a roadmap for implementing the syntheses; 4) Presentation of the roadmap to national and international public authorities, in particular at the third international meeting of co-responsibility territories?, held in Braine-l'Alleud (Belgium) in early November 2016.
  • See in particular the three main products: 1) a summary of citizens' expectations ((CO-ACTE - Summary of citizens' expectations by type of policy measure|by public policy)) and ((CO-ACTE - Summary of citizens' expectations|by dimension of well-being)); 2) the Reference model for progress towards well-being for all, including future generations?; and 3)the Roadmap proposal to make this progress effective.
  • At the same time, a Council of Alliances has been launched, bringing together players in the field, researchers and political decision-makers to pass on TOGETHER's achievements and proposals, around the political and research project aimed at highlighting the added value of co-responsibility.
  • However, it has to be said that no public entity is receptive to these proposals, apart from a few exceptions, but these are insufficient to achieve the necessary critical mass. Nonetheless, the CO-ACTE project has made it possible to verify its initial hypothesis, namely that it is by adopting a rigorous intersubjective approach to direct democracy, based on the principles of SPIRAL, that it is possible to bring out the deep-rooted aspirations of all citizens for a world that is peaceful, fair and respectful of nature. We have also been able to verify this during our methodological contributions to the Great Debate in France in 2019.

Refocusing after the Covid pandemic

  • The Covid pandemic marked a turning point, as it prohibited any collective meetings for over a year. The focus then shifted back to individual approaches, without losing sight of the regional dimension. The Fourth International Meeting of Territories of Co-Responsibility in early November 2020 marks a decisive turning point in this respect. 
Find out more
    • Held entirely online for the first time, this meeting introduced the practice of holding regular online meetings, without any specific costs or funding. As well as eliminating the environmental impact of air travel, this gives the TOGETHER Network a high degree of autonomy, as it is no longer dependent on financial support for each project.
    • This fourth international meeting was the starting point for the "Together let's learn to make the right choices" project, inviting all citizens to analyse their carbon impact and find individual and collective solutions with their neighbours to ensure the well-being of all while reducing their carbon impact to the limit of 2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (project launched in partnership with Compte Carbone).
    • It was also an opportunity to relaunch the Council of Alliances in partnership with the Fernando Pessoa University in Porto, leading to the Manifesto and Appeal for Co-responsibility? sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, followed by the Universal Solidarity Project.

Conclusions (novembre 2023)

After nearly 18 years of experimentation and 10 years of formal existence of the International TOGETHER Network, several conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Any way out of the multi-dimensional crisis that humanity is experiencing today must start with the citizens, in direct, individual and collective expression, allowing their deepest aspirations to emerge, without manipulation of any kind (commercial, political, ideological, etc.).
  2. It is the duty of the public authorities to make this possible, by creating the conditions for the establishment of autonomous local citizens' organisations (residents' associations recognised everywhere and grouped together in partnerships with local authorities and other local players), and by facilitating/supporting their initiatives as well as network exchanges and learning.
  3. Solutions to ensure the well-being of all without discrimination or environmental degradation, such as those revolving around the idea of happy sobriety, could thus emerge by relying first and foremost on the social links of local solidarity, thus opening up avenues for the necessary reduction in the environmental impact of centralised services (public or private).
  4. The international solidarity that is essential to rebalance the situations of injustice inherited from history must also be based on these principles. It will also enable us to learn from the experiences of communities in the countries of the South and their potential for concrete solutions.

Until the conditions have been created to make this possible, the TOGETHER network will continue to promote and support:

  • participatory approaches in local areas based on SPIRAL's methodological principles
  • citizens' projects, both local and international, in particular the Universal Solidarity Project, in the hope that this will act as a lever for progress towards a more egalitarian, nature-friendly and peaceful world. We warmly invite all those who wish to join this project to give it vitality and visibility.

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Page last modified on Tuesday 28 of November, 2023 03:03:36 UTC