Since the 4th International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility in November 2020, entirely online following the Covid 19 crisis, a meeting of the network in the form of an online webinar is organized every quarter. This second quarterly meeting includes:
In the morning (10am-1pm) a new review of the "Together Let's Learn to Make the Right Choices" project.
Three months after the April 10 meeting, a new assessment of the progress of the project "Together let's learn to make good choices" for the well-being of all and the planet will be made with the various participants in the project. The session will take place as follows:
- Recall of the project objectives
- Presentation of new participants and new results obtained since the session of April 10
- Proposals, debate and decisions on a strategy for larger-scale mobilization around two objectives: 1) Make the proposed tools more easily accessible and attractive; 2) Rapidly increase the number of participants.
In the afternoon (3:00-7:00 p.m.), a discussion session on the theme "Reducing GHG emissions from public services while increasing their quality",
Organized in partnership with the University Fernando Pessoa of Porto, this session will be an opportunity to re-launch the Council of Alliances between NGOs (field actors, networks), researchers and public policy makers.
Conceptual note, objective and practical organization of the afternoon session
The objective of the well-being of all, at the planetary level and including future generations, in which the TOGETHER network is involved, must necessarily take into account the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the main challenge that humanity must face now and in the coming years. To avoid a climatic conflagration of the planet, it is indeed imperative to reduce these emissions to less than 2 tons per year and per person within a maximum of 30 years and if possible within 10 years. Today, the disparities between countries are considerable: about 12 tons per capita on average in France (source: http://ravijen.fr/?p=440), less than 2 tons in most African countries. Efforts should therefore be made in priority in the northern countries (mainly Europe and North America). On the other hand, investments are needed in the South to ensure the basic living conditions of local populations, particularly in terms of access to drinking water, food, health and housing in a context of strong climate change.
The essential idea on which we propose to work is to consider the global reduction of GHG emissions not as a constraint or a problem but as a solution to achieve well-being for all.
Let us start from the impact of public services. In France, for example, their impact is on average 1.5 tons of CO2 equivalent per inhabitant per year (source: http://ravijen.fr/?p=440), that is to say nearly 12.5% of the total impact of each person. If we keep the same proportions, this means that in order to reduce the latter to 2 tons, the impact of public services should be reduced to 0.25 tons per person. Reducing the impact of public services from 1.5 tons to 0.25 tons per capita while preserving or even improving their quality seems like an impossible mission. However, solutions exist and it is on this subject that we propose to reflect together on July 10th, starting from the following observations:
- First observation: The objective of 2 tons per year and per person is not achievable without a development of autonomy at the local level to ensure basic services: food autonomy, water, health, mobility, housing, energy, ....
- The corollary of this observation: public services should be oriented towards helping local autonomy in their realization, rather than their more costly centralized provision.
These two observations imply a real revolution in the way we conceive the economy and the management of public services in the mainstream. This revolution is essential, but we are not starting from scratch: since the 1990s, and even before that, there have been various initiatives along these lines. Let us recall some of them:
- The LEADER rural development program launched by the European Commission in the early 1990s invites local actors in any micro-region to work together in a local partnership for a shared strategy on their territory and to exchange with each other to learn together to find the right solutions. This has resulted in a much higher efficiency of public funds in terms of revitalization of rural areas.
- Inspired or not by LEADER, other initiatives of this type have been developed in Europe and outside Europe, always based on the same principles: 1) to invite local actors and local populations to find solutions themselves and to support them in doing so by giving them autonomy of decision; 2) to facilitate exchanges between territories to discover together the best solutions and thus to encourage a large-scale learning process. See for example the CDD (Community Driven Development) approaches. See also the initiatives put forward by the TOGETHER network, notably in Cape Verde and in Wallonia, where forms of financing have been put in place that allow local inhabitants and actors to decide on the most efficient use of public money, including social aid.
- Beyond these public policies, citizens themselves are developing various types of collective initiatives that ensure a decentralized public service that takes into account the needs of all in a more efficient way. They can be found in the field of food (such as the AMAP/CSA), community health (such as the medical centers in Belgium), and mobility, among other areas. Other initiatives are part of decentralized cooperation and facilitate exchanges and forms of direct solidarity between local communities in the North and South and/or ensure the reception of migrants and refugees.
All these approaches and initiatives are part of decentralized approaches based on two transversal principles that are found in all of them: the principle of proximity (proximity of people and territories, especially in terms of planning and decision-making) and the principle of linkage (between people, actions and territories).
However, it is clear that despite the remarkable efficiency of the decentralized approaches developed for more than 30 years around these principles, they have never been able to go beyond a certain level of recognition and extension. This is mainly due to the sectoral and top-down internal functioning of the public institutions concerned, making it very difficult to adopt different approaches. It seems, therefore, that we have reached a dead end.
The question is therefore how to move from decentralized public policies that are currently marginal to the mainstream. This is where the need for a drastic reduction in GHG emissions can be an opportunity. It represents a strong constraint that forces us to look for other ways. For the evolution towards decentralized policies to take place, the visibility of the added value of existing initiatives must be better formalized, disseminated and debated in public spaces.
This is what we propose to analyze and debate during the webinar on Saturday, July 10th from 3pm to 7pm Brussels time at https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/j/85912804167
Beyond this debate, the objective is to constitute a Council of Alliances between NGOs (field actors or networks), researchers/academics and public policy makers to progress in this direction of a better formalization and dissemination of the added value of decentralized approaches. The debate will be organized as follows:
- A round table presentation of the participants
- Presentation of the objective of the session on the basis of this document and presentation of a hypothesis for the analysis of the added value of decentralized approaches (see Annex 1).
- Discussion aimed at improving and agreeing on the objective and the proposed grid. Types of research involved.
- Clarification of the idea of a Council of Alliances to pursue this objective.
- Discussion and decisions on its constitution, functioning and a first draft of the program (see Annex 2).
- Clarification of the next steps and conclusion.
French-English interpretation will be provided when necessary.
Annex 1: Proposed first draft of an analysis grid and highlighting of the added value of decentralized approaches
(Grid submitted for discussion on July 10 as a starting hypothesis)
_1- Analysis of added value__ (Components to be highlighted)
a) Better efficiency of resources necessary for material well-being
- Lower cost of local resources (e.g. human resources)
- Lower administrative costs and reduced delays (e.g. LETS)
- better targeting of real needs (especially of excluded/disadvantaged people)
- Valuation of unused or underused local resources - no waste (e.g. no post-harvest losses, pooling of goods and equipment, local recycling, etc.)
- Local availability and ease of mobilization (e.g., calling on mutual aid in the event of a person's illness)
- Short circuits: reduction or elimination of commercial and packaging costs
b) Generation of immaterial well-being in its different dimensions:
- Human relations, conviviality, sharing, collective life,
- Recognition, meaning
- Inclusion and non-discrimination
- Social capital (shared knowledge, trust, security, etc.)
2. Key elements to be developed to obtain these added values
- Democracy and direct consultation between inhabitants
- Autonomy of decision and a posteriori control on objectives and not on means
- Collective reflection and memorization of lessons learned
3. Methods of evidence
- Example: Use the SPIRAL method of participatory co-evaluation of the impacts on well-being using the grid of dimensions and components of well-being
4. Policy implications
Note: This grid can be used to analyze an approach (e.g., the LEADER method) or a type of action or even specific actions. It remains to specify the methods of synthesis and communication of the results.
Annex 2: Origin, purpose and functioning of the Council of Alliances
Starting point: Rethinking progress in relation to the well-being of all.
TOGETHER is the international network of Territories of Co-responsibility, i.e., territories (villages, neighborhoods, municipalities, cities, regions) that are developing an approach of co-responsibility between all actors (public, private, citizens) to ensure the well-being of all, including future generations, known simply as the SPIRAL approach (Societal Progress Indicators for the Responsibility of All). Initially launched in 2005 by the Council of Europe as part of its strategy and action plan for social cohesion (defined as society's ability to ensure the well-being of all), this approach is now being developed by the TOGETHER network itself, which has been informally constituted since September 2009 and formally since November 2013.
The SPIRAL approach is based on a starting point that has been underlying all debates on progress for the past forty years, both in non-governmental organizations and research centers, as well as in international public institutions such as the United Nations, the OECD, the European Union and the Council of Europe, among others: the questioning of GDP growth as an indicator of progress in our societies.
Faced with this questioning, we defend that an alternative solution cannot be validly asserted without returning to the primary and naturally legitimate objective of any human society, namely to ensure the well-being of all its members without exclusion. Replacing progress no longer in terms of GDP growth but in terms of growth in the capacity to ensure the well-being of all (or the good life together) in a relationship of equity, without discrimination and without exclusion (and therefore without poverty), including future generations (and therefore without the use of non-renewable resources) is the most correct way of posing the problem. It is correct in the sense that it is the only one that can ensure a consensus universally shared by all, beyond any ideological position, and any cultural or ethnic difference.
Origin and role of the Council of Alliances
In 2014, the idea of a Council of Alliances between network actors and Universities/research centers was launched to give substance to an action research project highlighting the interest and added value of a co-responsibility approach to ensure the well-being of all in the present and in the long term. Since then, much progress has been made in this direction, giving rise to several projects, including the CO-ACTE project (https://wikispiral.org/tiki-index.php?page=CO-ACTE+FR) and a large number of communications, on which we can build. However, it has not been possible to achieve the desired impact with public authorities.
In November 2020, learning from these limitations in the context of the Covid pandemic, TOGETHER held its 4th International Meeting. It gave rise to the launch of the project "Together let's learn to make the right choices to ensure the well-being of all now and for future generations", aimed not only at territories but also at any group of citizens and all types of actors wishing to embark on this approach. It was then proposed to relaunch this Council of Alliances to accompany this new project, by focusing the research on the public policies that are necessary today to facilitate these good choices. Setting up
Any university or university section or research center interested in joining the TOGETHER Council of Alliances will be welcome to do so, specifying its contribution to the research. This contribution can be in the form of student theses or dissertations. The Council of Alliances may also invite universities or research centers that seem particularly relevant to the research needs it will identify.
After this first session on July 10, 2021, the Council of Alliances will meet every three months on the occasion of the quarterly meeting of TOGETHER to review the progress of the work, the results obtained and the new needs and also to promote dialogue with the public entities concerned. Its coordination will be carried out in a collegial manner between TOGETHER and the Fernando Pessoa University of Porto within the framework of the cooperation agreement in force between these two entities.