The final conference of project LADDER was held in Strasbourg on 21-22 November 2017, and constituted a key opportunity to create new bonds and strengthen existing partnerships for the localisation of SDGs in the next years.
The conference marked three years of joint work within an extremely ambitious project, co-funded by the European Union and led by ALDA, gathering 27 partners and 19 associates from 19 EU and 17 non EU-countries. The unanimous commitment to continue the great work done so far in the field of development education is a great satisfaction for all of us, as well as the sign of LADDER’s sustainability.
The event, hosted by the Council of Europe and by the Region Grand Est, was opened by the welcome speech of Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA, and Alina Tatarenko, Head of the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform of the Council of Europe.
The first expert panel focused on best practices in the field of development education and SDGs, with the participation of Elisabeth Dau from the Institute for Research and Debate for Governance, Othmane Khaoua, City councilor of the municipality of Sceaux (France), and Inta Rimsane from the municipality of Rezekne (Latvia). Speakers highlighted that not only can local authorities drive the implementation of effective policies for implementing SDGs, but they can also work to shape a common sense of ownership of SDGs in their citizens.
A panel on results and lessons learnt in the past 3 years was moderated by the project manager Sofia Caiolo, who showed how LADDER managed to spark the creation of more than 70 mini-projects via an innovative re-granting scheme action, involving Civil Society Organizations and citizens in pursuing our common goals. Among the panelists, Anette Grunnet from the municipality of Vejie (Denmark), Cristina Sossan from Equo Garantito (Italy), Colin Campbell from Assist Social Capital (United Kingdom), brought forward their community experiences highlighting the extent to which good local experiences generate global changes.
A roundtable on the localisation of SDGs followed, moderated by Marjan Huc from SLOGA (Slovenia), with Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA, Natalia Shovkoplias from UTC Slovakia, and Board Member of ALDA, Laia Vinyes Merce from Platforma, and Mathieu Chaveneau, from association KuriOZ. All speakers stressed how local authorities are actually those who hold the power of agenda to push the national level to implement effective policies in line with SDGs.
Following the roundtable, Elena Debonis from ALDA introduced a flagship initiative of LADDER: the Citizen Journalists programme. Over 60 citizens from the whole globe wrote articles on development education related issues, and the most active 18 received a 2-day training on communication applied to journalism, storytelling, and photo journalism by experts in Strasbourg. They were awarded a certificate from ALDA Secretary General for their ability to communicate the relevance of sustainability and development in their local communities, and have officially become ambassadors of SDGs, committed to keeping working for this high objective.
Then, all participants were called to take an active role, selecting topics for exchange and working in groups, with the task to elaborate action plans and strategies on how to create new partnerships and work together in pursuing SDG goals. Marco Boaria, ALDA’s Head of Resources and Development unit, illustrated various possibilities to gain access to funds and grants for projects focused on SDGs in the near future and the working groups were once again assembled, this time with the task of drafting workable project proposals from the points elaborated before, which were then presented to the plenary by the coordinators of each group and which will hopefully become the foundation of future profitable cooperation amongst the LADDER consortium, making this Final Conference a new beginning for all those involved!