From 19 to 21 October 2016 the Special Initiative “Local democracy in the two shores of the Mediterranean” of the LADDER Project MED Path has been successfully held in Tunis. The Special Initiative was organised by the Tunisian association Lam Echaml with the cooperation of COPPEM (the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership of Regional and Local Authorities) and ALDA. During this international event, attended by more than 70 people from both shores of the Mediterranean, participants shared their standpoints and expertise on the subject of local democracy, also addressing specific challenges such as citizen participation and engagement.
The 3-days event began with the joint conference ALDA & ARLEM -the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (Committee of the Regions)-, with title “Local and Regional authorities exchanging experiences on circular migration”. Mr. Hani Abdelmasih Al Hayek, ARLEM co-chair, and Mr. Alessandro Perelli, Vice-President of ALDA, opened the conference with inspiring speeches. Then, high-level speakers from various institutions and organisations (among them: the Delegation of the European Union to Tunisia, the International Organization for Migration, the Jordanian Ministry of Municipal Affairs, etc.) exchanged their expertise and highlighted their perspectives about circular migration. In this framework, Ms. Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA, shared her point of view and underlined the importance of seeing migrations as a possibility for creating opportunities and synergies between local authorities.
In the following sessions, participants from the North and the South of the Mediterranean exchanged opinions and best practices on how citizens’ engagement at the local level can be actively supported. A multilevel vision of the concept of democracy is definitively required in order to develop an effective participative system. Associative life as a school for local democracy was also remarked as key element by the participants. At the global level, “Insurgent Cosmopolitanism”, a more inclusive and equal process of globalization, and a new “Mediterranean Humanism”, based on dialogue and participation, are essential alternative approaches to struggle inequalities, oppression and exclusion – said Natale Giordano, Co-coordinator of the LADDER MED Path and COPPEM representative.
During the closing session, Moncef Ben Slimane, President of Lam Echaml, presented the CHARMEDAL: The Mediterranean Chart of Democracy and Local Autonomy, as a new strategic tool for Mediterranean associations and organizations.