The concluding webinar in the LDnet series on ‘Recovery through community-led approaches’ was held on the 29th April 2021.
Participants in the previous webinars were invited to join this final session to discuss cross-cutting themes and draw lessons. Questions included: how can community-based solutions be spread more effectively? How can communities work at transnational level to innovate without reinventing the wheel? What support is needed at local, national and EU level?
Specific issues arising from the previous three webinars that were debated further included:
- building resilience of local communities
- overcoming old and new exclusions
- sustaining local solidarity
- getting support from the state (regional, national, EU levels)
- setting future development on a sustainable path
This was a moderated but unscripted webinar. Many of the participants presented a point of view on a cross-cutting theme or a case example from their village, town or city. There was a lively discussion, facilitated by LDnet vice-president Peter Ramsden, with many contributions, including from: Robert Lukesch, Urszula Budzich-Tabor, Maria João Rauch, Rui Franco, Daniela Patti, Vanessa Halhead, Joanna Storie, Enrique Nieto, Toby Johnson, Peter Lloyd, Pedro Brosei, Ernesto Marcheggiani, Martin Netzer, and Hannes Lorenzen.
The recording of the concluding webinar of 29.4.2021 is available HERE.
The main take-away points:
The fourth webinar of the LDnet series was an opportunity to reflect on issues and examples discussed in the previous sessions, draw lessons and outline recommendations. These are summarised below.
(1) The added value of bottom-up approaches was generally recognised:
– they create lasting linkages and structures which can be used at times of emergency (such as COVID) to react more quickly than at national or regional level;
– they can reach out to the smallest and weakest actors of the community (e.g. low waged and informal sector workers), providing a wide range of support, including food, health and education or improved access to digital services in all types of areas (urban, rural, fisheries);
– they find new ways of bringing people together even in most remote areas, build social capital and trust;
– overall, they can greatly contribute to all aspects of community resilience [link to Robert’s slide].
(2) A number of barriers and risks were identified:
– in times of crisis the inequalities may grow very quickly and citizens’ initiatives may not be enough to address them without major support from the public sector;
– public administration is not always willing to share power with the local communities, and often interested primarily in preserving status quo;
– in some areas the inefficiency of public sector and lack of political will to work with civil society organisations leaves a vacuum which can be filled by the mafia;
– crises such as COVID may result in more people moving to sparsely populated rural areas which can help with depopulation, but can also lead to the marginalisation of the rural inhabitants.
(3) The COVID experience has provided important policy lessons which should be taken into account when designing EU funding for 2021-2027. Proposals included:
– develop models of local development with adequate top-down support from the public sector while leaving scope for bottom-up initiative and innovation – using financial capital to strengthen social capital;
– explore new forms of interaction between different levels of governance, including vertical cooperation, joint initiatives e.g. between mayors and NGOs, going out of the hierarchical, silo mentality;
– build up support to increase the uptake of CLLD in EU policies, also in urban areas, covering a wider than now range of themes including housing, energy, digitalisation etc., with non-bureaucratic, easy-to-access funding procedures;
– the role of local development for building resilience should be highlighted – perhaps instead of “local action groups” we should talk about “local resilience groups”?