The Tenth Anniversary of Platforma
2008 – 2018: To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Platforma, I had the pleasure and honour of authoring a publication, which was presented on 10 October 2018 during the ceremony and debates organised in Brussels by CEMR/Platforma.
This publication recounts the fundamental stages of these ten years of existence of the platform of local and regional governments for development cooperation. It also recaps why Platforma was created, its background, the key results of this work over a decade, the contributions of the actors who shaped Platforma from the start and the priorities for the future.
Leading figures from European and international local and regional governments, including Pierre Schapira, Jocelyne Bougeard, Frédéric Vallier, Jeremy Smith, Emilia Saiz, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Peter Knip and representatives from the European Commission and Parliament, spoke on the objectives, obstacles, positions and world views that gave rise to the birth of Platforma. It soon became an instrument that paved the way for the local and regional governments involved in development cooperation, leading to significant achievements in the sphere of international cooperation.
Pierre Schapira, Deputy Mayor of Paris from 2001 to 2014 responsible for international relations and Member of the European Parliament at the time, drew up the report that led to the creation of Platforma. He recalls in the publication the reasons why he presented his report, “because up until 2007, the European Union allocated funding only to NGOs active in development cooperation, with strong support going to entities such as Concord, an organisation representing NGOs in Brussels. The same thing was needed for local governments because even though NGOs did their work very well, there were certain things which only local governments could achieve”.
The different players active at the time recalled pivotal moments, the areas of advantage and ones of concern, differences in opinion and positions of strength that were all part of setting up and building the platform of local and regional governments for development into what it is today. These were all moments and ideas I lived through and experienced as Director of Platforma until 2014 and that I continue to share in today not only as an expert in this area, but also because I am now part of this family of local and regional governments which, owing to its values, its ties, its experiences and its challenges, is unparalleled.
In the run-up to the new EU budget phase covering the 2020-2027 period, local and regional governments active in development cooperation are mobilising in the face of uncertainty: will the new budget include a budget line for local and regional governments active in cooperation and local development?
Throughout these ten years of action, Platforma has been an essential tool in promoting and disseminating best practice in decentralised cooperation, in organising advocacy actions before international bodies, governments and donors, in shaping European policy for development. Success in the latter area can be seen in the fact that in 2013, in a Communication adopted by no less than the European Council, the role of local and regional governments in development cooperation was singled out and acknowledged.
Platforma was the instigator of the strategic partnership that the European Commission formed with the major organisations in this sector, resulting in the support they receive today for their actions and work promoting the international cooperation of local and regional governments.
Looking forward, Platforma must now begin focusing its efforts on securing the full, absolute and irreversible recognition of the key role played by local and regional governments in sustainable development by successfully achieving the goals of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, laid out in 17 points – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Frédéric Vallier, the Secretary General of CEMR, the organisation of European local and regional government associations that hosts Platforma, confirmed that, in the last ten years, “what Platforma has accomplished is far more than just being the coalition of players involved in development cooperation, it has demonstrated unmistakably that Development policies cannot be fragmented but need to be integrated. Europe is by far the foremost international contributor to development, but if we want to contribute real added value, we need to work in partnership with the European Union, the Member States, local and regional governments and Civil Society Organisations. In a world of such uncertainty, the European added value of PLATFORMA lies in its capacity to support all players and promote capacity-building as close as possible to the people. In the years to come, more than ever we will need to be united to confront the rise of nationalism and scepticism everywhere in the world.”
I believe that these words perfectly sum up the reasons for Platforma’s existence and the role that local and regional governments have been called on to play in development cooperation.
I hope, as does everyone in my sector, that the EU is aware of all this and with this consideration in mind, that the European decision-makers will agree on a budget for the 2020-2027 period that will continue to support local and regional governments’ development cooperation projects and the actions of their organisations.
For more detailed information on this subject, please visit Platforma’s website, where you can also download my anniversary publication as well as other documents and information: www.platforma-dev.eu