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Citizens’ participation at the local level in Europe and Neighbouring Countries

Contribution of the Association of Local Democracy Agencies

Edited By Antonella Valmorbida

ALDA – The Association of Local Democracy Agencies – is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of good governance and citizen participation at the local level. It is made up of over 160 members comprising local authorities and civil society organisations in the enlarged Europe.
Recently, new forms of interaction between citizens and decision makers have been put in place. By analysing ALDA’s 15 years of hands-on activities with its members and partners, this publication contributes to a better understanding of the added value of citizen participation at the local level in Europe and its neighbouring countries.
This book brings together the work of the Director and staff of ALDA and of the Local Democracy Agencies, as well as numerous practices and voices from the members and partners of its vast network. Through the field experiences presented, ALDA shows how and why citizen participation leads to the adoption of better solutions, and, at the same time, fosters long lasting, balanced development.
This publication formulates conclusions and offers insightful input for future activities aiming at building truly democratic local democracy. It is therefore particularly useful for all those who intend to work within the recently adopted programme ‘Europe for Citizens’ 2014–2020, as well as to bridge the topics of active citizenship and development – the focus of the European Years 2013 and 2015.
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Chapter 8. Experience of the Local Democracy Agencies in Citizen Participation

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The Local Democracy Agencies are a practical exercise of multilevel and multi-stakeholder cooperation, engaged in a long-term perspective of strengthening of democracy and development support (see also other elements regarding the LDAs in the first chapters). In this part, a specific attention will be given to the concrete activities and actions implemented in the field by the network of the thirteen LDAs (today ten LDAs and three Operational Partners, since Croatia joint the European Union). The main objective is to summarise the key elements of their strategy and present a complete overview of their contribution to local democracy.

Total projects implemented in the period 2009–2012.

The above chart reveals the overall activity of the Local Democracy Agencies by categories. Clearly, the LDAs have concentrated their efforts in two of their main thematic fields in direct link with their objectives at their establishment, which are the promotion of local governance and citizen participation.

On the one hand, implemented projects related to Youth, Culture and Education, social policies, active citizenship and human rights have contributed to the promotion of community development and the concept of participation of citizens to local life. Projects have intended to raise the ← 187 | 188 → awareness of the target groups over the principles of democracy at local level, to enhance and support the role of civil society organisations as a vector of democracy and to improve the peaceful cohabitation of different communities.

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