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Extraordinary General Assembly of TOGETHER International of November 4, 2016 in Braine- l'Alleud
ACTS

Introduction

In accordance with TOGETHER's statutes, an Extraordinary General Assembly is held on the occasion of each International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility, every 2 to 4 years. Its purpose is to :

  1. analysis and approval of activity and financial reports;
  2. the definition of a strategy for the years to come;
  3. the election of new coordinating bodies (Management, General Assembly table and Audit Board);
  4. any other matter that the members wish to raise and decide together.

The 3rd International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility in Braine-l'Alleud on November 2, 3 and 4, 2016 was the occasion to realize the first Extraordinary General Assembly after the formal creation of the Network 3 years before, on November 4, 2013. In addition to the members present and represented, other participants in the International Meeting of Territories of Co-responsibility participated in this General Assembly as guests.

I- Analysis and approval of activity and financial reports

The General Assembly was opened and chaired by the city of Mulhouse, as President of the General Assembly table, in the person of Régis Athonady.

The floor was first given to the representatives of the three managing members (André Desmet from the city of Braine-l'Alleud, Fayçal Kaabi, deputy mayor of Kairouan and Dimos Toulkidis, deputy mayor of Kairouan) for the introduction and the presentation of the activity report in the name of the Management of the Network (see the first parts of the annex 1). The presentation was made jointly with Samuel Thirion, Secretary General. There were no particular comments on this activity report and it was unanimously approved.

The floor was then given to the city of Charleroi, which co-chairs the Audit Board, in the person of Jacques Pyfroen (see first parts of Annex 2). Several observations were made on the financial report, particularly with regard to membership fees:

  • The fact that the vast majority of members have not paid their dues was discussed. Considering that this is a transitory situation from the first years of the Network (due to difficulties of various kinds: communication, transfers, procedures, etc.), it was agreed that an effort would be made by all members, in cooperation with the Secretariat, to normalize this situation. It should be noted that some fees were paid during the Meeting and do not appear on the table made earlier.
  • It is noted that the contributions paid to Together France are not visible in the presentation of the accounts and that it would be desirable to have this information.
  • It was also suggested that the current criterion for calculating the contribution adjustment coefficient, namely GDP in purchasing power parity, be replaced by a criterion that is more in line with the Network's positions on GDP, such as the HDI. It was left to the new Management to make a proposal with the support of the Secretariat. As long as this new proposal has not been formulated and approved, the current system for calculating contributions will remain in force. It should be noted that TOGETHER France already has a system of contributions without reference to the GDP, but which is not applicable at the international level given the differences in situations between countries.
  • It was suggested that contributions in kind should not be converted into euros.

After discussion, the financial report was approved unanimously with one abstention.

II- Strategy for the coming years

TOGETHER's position after the 3rd International Meeting

Proposals are presented in the Together Management Report (see Annex 1, "Assessment and Prospects", especially the 5 points in paragraph c - Strategy elements for the next 3 years). A consensus was reached on these 5 points. Nevertheless, participants made the following observations:

  • There is a need to give a more operational dimension to the roadmap resulting from the CO-ACTE project, making it closer to the field and better integrating the achievements of SPIRAL and the concrete needs for developing the approach in the territories. The results of the workshops of the two days of the meeting are a contribution in this direction.
  • In accordance with the conclusions of the workshops, it was proposed to develop an ethical charter that could be drafted and shared within the Network.
  • The issue of gender equality is not addressed in the roadmap, even though it is a major social issue.
  • Several networks or associations invited to the International Meeting and to the General Assembly expressed their interest in a closer collaboration with TOGETHER, sharing the objective of the well-being of all today and tomorrow through co-responsibility. However, they would like to see more recognition of the diversity and complementarities of the ways to achieve this.

It was not possible to give much more concrete expression to these recommendations and aspirations, especially as other elements emerged during the meeting of the Committee of the Regions in the afternoon of the same day. Therefore, the General Assembly instructs the new management, with the support of the secretariat and anyone interested in participating, to implement these recommendations as well as the perspectives opened by the meeting with the Committee of the Regions. The wikispiral website will remain the main communication and reference tool for this purpose. An important deadline in this process is February 2017, when the final report of the CO-ACTE project must be completed and submitted to the European Commission.

The Federation of Cape Verdean CRPs proposed during the meeting with the Committee of the Regions that the next International Meeting of the Territories of Co-responsibility within 3 years be held in Cape Verde, a proposal that was well received by the members present. Strategy for a sustainable financial balance.

The question of the financial sustainability of TOGETHER was discussed, noting that after 3 years of start-up without permanent support since the end of the hosting of the network within the Council of Europe, there is a need to find a sustainable solution beyond the funding obtained with the CO-ACTE project. Sébastien Keiff, General Secretary of Together France, proposed to set the basic annual budget to be obtained at 70,000 euros (excluding projects) in order to be able to cover the cost of a permanent staff member to be recruited and the online services provided by the webmaster (Joël Obrecht). However, such a budget would represent more than 5 times the amount of the contributions. It was therefore decided that a special effort would be made in the future to identify and implement a sustainable solution in this sense, knowing that several solutions are possible. The Secretariat and the new management of the Network will have to make proposals in this sense.

III- Election of the coordinating bodies

After presentation of the candidates, the new direction, elected unanimously, is the following:

  • Presidency: Interdepartmental Directorate of Social Cohesion of the Walloon Region, in the person of Carine Jansen, its director.
  • Vice-presidency: Federation of CRP-Comissoes Regionais de Parceiros- (Multi-stakeholder Platforms) of Cape Verde, represented by Luiz Baptista and Lourenço Furtado Lopes.
  • Secretary: Together France which will be represented by Corrine Martinez, its President.

The new table of the General Assembly, elected unanimously, is as follows:

  • Chair: City of Kavala
  • Vice-presidency: City of Braine-l'Alleud
  • Secretary: City of Kairouan

Due to the lack of candidates for the Board of Auditors among the full or ex-officio members, the General Assembly was suspended until further notice with the decision to conduct the election of the Board of Auditors via the Internet once the candidates were known. The General Assembly was thus able to resume on January 10, 2017 with the following candidates:

  • Presidency: Municipality of Caminha
  • Vice President: Municipality of Odemira
  • Secretary: Municipality of Grândola

An internet vote was therefore organized and the 3 candidates were elected unanimously. The General Assembly could thus be closed on the date of February 3, 2017.

Nota Bene: It was noted that some associate members were candidates for the Board of Auditors. However, this would have required a change in the bylaws which may be proposed at the next General Assembly.

Annex 1 Management Report

(Activity report for the first 3 years and strategic axes for the next 3 years)

1- Description of the activities carried out

Informally founded in 2009 and formally at the Founding General Assembly on November 4, 2013 in Strasbourg, TOGETHER, the International Network of Territories of Co-responsibility has exactly 3 years of existence as an official entity. During these 3 years, the activities carried out have been the following:

a) Network installation and development activities

  • Official registration in Portugal and establishment of the headquarters in Odemira (December 2013) ;
  • Establishment of an action plan for the year 2014, approved by the General Assembly ;
  • Launch of 10 thematic networks within the framework of the European project "Responding Together" co-financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe (1st semester 2014);
  • Provision by the Municipality of Odemira of a room and an apartment to receive interns and build the network secretariat team (June 2014) and provision of a coworking space at the CARMEN Association Center from March 2015 ;
  • Launch of TOGETHER France at the end of 2014 with the support of the Labo 21 of the Conseil Général de la Gironde ;
  • Support for the creation of TOGETHER Morocco and TOGETHER Portugal.

b) Activities to support the development of the SPIRAL approach

  • 3 annual training seminars for SPIRAL dynamizers have been held, allowing us to make further progress in refining the methodological framework each time:
    • 3rd training seminar on 27, 28 and 29 March 2014 in Strasbourg with the support of the Council of Europe
    • 4th training seminar on 5, 6 and 7 February 2015 in Bordeaux with the support of the Conseil Départemental de la Gironde
    • 5th training seminar on 24, 25 and 26 June 2016 in Odemira in the framework of the CO-ACTE project ;
  • Numerous SPIRAL trainings carried out within the framework of national networks (TOGETHER France and TOGETHER Portugal) ;
  • Permanent online support of all territories using wikispiral.org.

c) Policy and Research Project and CO-ACTE Project

  • Formalization of the Network's political and research project proposing that governments, public and private actors at different territorial levels, and researchers test the hypothesis that co-responsibility is the most relevant and efficient way to progress towards the well-being of all ;
  • Launch of the TOGETHER Alliance Council for the realization of the political and research project ;
  • Preparation of the CO-ACTE project, presentation of a first application in September 2014, then a second application in March 2015 and approval of the project by the European Commission in June 2015 ;
  • Realization from August 2015 of the CO-ACTE project in its different phases and meetings leading to the roadmap for the evolution of society towards co-responsibility for the well-being of all today and tomorrow, proposed at the European and global level (for the description of the evolution of the project: see annex 2 of the roadmap).

2- Assessment and prospects

Conceived within the framework of the Council of Europe's strategy and Action Plan for Social Cohesion, the SPIRAL approach has been supported for three years by the TOGETHER Network of territories developing it. Following this process, the TOGETHER Network now has a number of achievements that open up new perspectives.

a) The achievements of the SPIRAL approach

After 10 years of development with several hundreds of territories in about twenty European and African countries, the SPIRAL approach has been progressively enriched by the results of the different territories that implement it. Its achievements are today :

  • A clear vision of the well-being of all from the local, regional and national citizen groups and territorial level to the global level. This multilevel vision has been built over the years according to the principles of an intersubjective, introspective and prospective democratic approach that ensures the authenticity of the processes and results. It is an essential asset for rethinking public policies and civil society actions so that together they allow for a sustainable evolution towards the well-being of all.
  • A methodological framework for the development of co-responsibility for the well-being of all in living spaces (territories and collective actors: schools, hospitals, companies, etc.) through a collaborative approach between actors and citizens based on the constitution of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms and associations of inhabitants. Adaptable to different institutional and cultural contexts, this framework facilitates collective learning for the implementation of real progress towards the well-being of all at the local level. Today, new experiments are underway that will broaden the scope of application, such as the use of SPIRAL in Agendas 21 in France, links with other approaches to defining the well-being of all, such as Réflect'Action in Belgium and Portugal, etc.
  • The progressive development of a theoretical framework of reference for the construction of methodological knowledge in networks and the validation of acquired knowledge. Benefiting from 10 years of learning in networks, TOGETHER has a capital of experience that constitutes an essential basis for the formalization of such a framework.

b) The achievements of the CO-ACTE project

The CO-ACTE project developed since 2015 has opened up the scope of the SPIRAL approach and the links with other approaches in several directions:

  • To build, following the same principles of an intersubjective democratic approach, a vision of the expectations of citizens in terms of public policies to ensure the well-being of all. The results obtained confirm what was already latent in SPIRAL, namely that an approach that scrupulously respects the principles of a direct democracy (equal right to speak, absence of intermediaries, open questions, etc.) brings to light the true aspirations of citizens, free from the stereotypes conveyed in society (advertising, fashion effects, a priori judgments, etc.). This is one of the most important achievements of the SPIRAL and CO-ACTE approaches because it legitimizes, through an authentic democratic process, a common sense vision that could be considered utopian but which is essential to allow a real progress of the society.
  • To establish links with all the initiatives and other networks that are part of this vision and that contribute in one way or another to its realization. This in order to experiment and build together paths of real progress towards the well-being of all today and tomorrow. This process, initiated in the 4 thematic meetings of the CO-ACTE project, is in its early stages, but some essential paths to be experimented have already been identified such as universal income, economy of functionality and cooperation, etc. It needs to be continued in the territories and in the framework of partnerships extended to other networks.
  • Identify the obstacles to such experiments, particularly in terms of institutional and financial support. Among these obstacles are centralized and/or sector-specific modes of governance that encourage competition rather than cooperation and fragmentation rather than integration. Overcoming these obstacles also requires experimentation with new, more collaborative forms of governance.
  • To propose from there a roadmap with three components: 1) The continuation of the SPIRAL approach by integrating the 4th question of CO-ACTE as a basis for legitimizing real progress towards co-responsibility and well-being for all through a direct democracy approach; 2) a process of co-experimentation between collaborative territorial processes and their support by collaborative modes of governance; 3) a process of capitalization and collective appropriation of the results of the experimentations in the form of charters and recommendations complementary to those that already exist at the international level; this process would be done through deliberative democracy approaches.
  • With its three parts, the roadmap proposes to move forward on three forms of democracy that are complementary to representative democracy: direct democracy (part 1), collaborative democracy (part 2) and deliberative democracy (part 3).

c) Elements of strategy for the next 3 years

Based on these results, the TOGETHER Network can develop a strategy for the next 3 years around the following axes :

  1. Engage in a dialogue with European and global public authorities to clarify the interest, content and conditions for implementing the roadmap in its three components.
  2. Obtain recognition and regular support to ensure the continuity and development of the SPIRAL and CO-ACTE approaches for Component 1 of the roadmap, particularly for its permanent funding (see financial report);
  3. Establish partnerships with other networks as well as interested governments and international organizations, to co-facilitate a process of experimentation and learning of collaborative approaches in territories supported by collaborative governance modes (part 2 of the roadmap) ;
  4. Lay the groundwork for capitalization and collective appropriation of lessons learned through a deliberative democracy approach in partnership with organizations that have experience in this area (part 3 of the roadmap) ;
  5. To move towards the constitution of an inter-network and public institution steering committee for this purpose. This steering committee will have to specify several major methodological questions and therefore to set up a research program, notably on the modes of construction, sharing and validation of knowledge concerning progress in society. Such a program should be conceived in an open manner by inviting all interested persons and organizations to participate.

d) Building an action plan

During the first two days, each participant was invited to reflect and specify how they will contribute to this strategy so that we can build an action plan to be validated at the TOGETHER GA. This action plan goes beyond TOGETHER and will involve a partnership with the different organizations and networks that intend to participate.


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