Category: Human Interest

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The factors that contribute to mental health problems

Mental health encompasses more than just the absence of illness; it reflects how individuals think, feel, and behave in their daily lives. While it may seem straightforward to define, addressing mental health issues can be complex. This is where mental health specialists play a vital role. They provide support and interventions for conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictions, and other issues that impact thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Through their expertise, they help individuals navigate and overcome these challenges, promoting overall well-being and quality of life.

The impact of mental health extends into everyday life, often manifesting in diverse ways. Not only does it influence how individuals navigate daily tasks and interactions, but it also exerts a significant influence on their relationships and physical well-being. From managing stress to coping with challenges, mental health plays a fundamental role in shaping various aspects of a person’s life. Consequently, addressing mental health concerns is crucial for fostering resilience, nurturing healthy relationships, and promoting overall wellness.

These factors have the potential to trigger or worsen psychological distress. Take, for example, how depression can lead to feelings of isolation and being excluded from social circles. These aspects frequently signal the beginning of a depressive episode.

Often, people overlook the significance of prioritizing mental health as a means of safeguarding the life they lead. Achieving this entails striving for balance in various aspects of life. This balance encompasses the activities we pursue, our professional endeavours, familial relationships, pursuits that bring joy and fulfilment, as well as our responsibilities. Most importantly, it involves cultivating resilience to navigate the inevitable uncertainties and challenges that arise. By nurturing this equilibrium and resilience, individuals can fortify their mental well-being, empowering themselves to lead fulfilling and purposeful lives.Top of Form

This underscores the reality that conditions like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can evolve into more severe mental health disorders. If these issues are ignored or untreated, they have the potential to profoundly disrupt an individual’s life and daily functioning. It emphasizes the importance of early intervention and proactive measures to address mental health concerns, thereby safeguarding overall well-being and quality of life.

As previously noted, while the term “mental health” is commonly used by professionals, there’s an understanding among experts that numerous psychological conditions may have underlying physical origins or implications. This acknowledgment highlights the intricate interplay between mental and physical health, with conditions often influencing and impacting each other. It underscores the importance of considering holistic approaches to healthcare that address both mental and physical well-being for comprehensive and effective treatment.

For better clarity, let’s differentiate between mental health and mental illness. It’s crucial to pay attention to early signs that may lead to various mental and physical disorders.

What defines Mental Health ?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health signifies a state of mental well-being in which an individual can effectively cope with life’s stresses. It encompasses the capacity to develop one’s abilities through work, learning, and contribution, while also fostering a sense of belonging and participation within a community.

As outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health transcends the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. It entails cultivating a state of robust mental well-being, characterized by not only physical health but also a profound awareness of one’s capabilities and a sense of overall satisfaction in life.

This underscores the critical importance of safeguarding and fostering mental health, not only for individuals but also for our communities and societies at large, across all levels.

Why is it important to eliminate stigma?

Everything we’ve discussed underscores compelling reasons to dismantle stigma and recognize that seeking help is not indicative of weakness or failure. Countless individuals grapple with conditions or experiences that, with professional support, they can overcome to regain control of their lives.

For example, in the United States (US), the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in every five individuals experiences mental health issues each year.

In 2020, data from the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that within the European Union, 14.2 million adults, comprising 5.6% of the population, grappled with psychological conditions. Concurrently, an alarming statistic emerged: 9.8 million individuals, constituting 4% of the populace, faced exceptionally severe conditions that significantly deteriorated their quality of life.

Moreover, the plight extended to the younger generation. Shockingly, one out of every five adolescents aged twelve to eighteen encountered profound struggles with mental disorders. Even more distressing was the revelation that 13% of children aged eight to fourteen were trapped by the same distressing conditions, underscoring a concerning trend of mental health challenges among the youth.

Among adults, the numbers paint a stark picture. Within the EU, 1.1% of the population contends with the challenging reality of schizophrenia, while 2.6% wrestle with bipolar disorder. Adding to this burden, a staggering 7% of the EU populace, totalling 16 million individuals, has grappled with at least one episode of depression within the same year.

But these figures only scratch the surface of the mental health landscape. An additional 18% of the population experiences anxiety stemming from a myriad of sources, including trauma, loss, and familial struggles. It’s crucial to recognize that these statistics don’t even capture those who develop disorders and conditions due to substance and alcohol abuse, further underscoring the magnitude of the mental health crisis.

This underscores the prevalent reluctance, hesitancy, and sense of isolation that individuals often experience when reaching out for help. This reluctance is deeply rooted in the pervasive stigma that surrounds mental health concerns, compelling individuals to suffer in silence rather than seek the support they desperately need. Despite acknowledging their need for care or assistance, individuals grapple with an enduring fear of judgment and discrimination, which leads them to neglect their own mental health needs and conditions. As a result, they may postpone seeking the essential care they require, thereby worsening their situation as the self-care they seek remains frustratingly out of reach.

This not only jeopardizes the well-being of the individual but also poses significant risks to those around them, often with even greater consequences. For loved ones living with or beside them, it can become an incredibly arduous and emotionally challenging journey.

What factors contribute to these risks?

While it’s clear that anyone can face such challenges, certain factors in a person’s background and living circumstances may heighten their vulnerability. Even individuals who seem to have the most supportive environments and familial backgrounds can find themselves susceptible to mental health issues.

Social or financial circumstances can indeed elevate the risk of mental health challenges. Therefore, it’s imperative to underscore the significance of maintaining balance from the very start and prioritizing it. Everything we carry within us, if not managed with care, can potentially lead to unforeseen experiences. It’s crucial to recognize that approaching life with an open mind and not viewing any single aspect as the sole focus is essential. This understanding is crucial for various reasons, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of our existence.

The primary factors that can lead to a certain lack of stability in our mental health are financial constraints or, better yet, the limitations that some may have, as well as socio-economic pressures, which, unwillingly, can start comparing what others are doing with what you can do.

The urban landscape where individuals reside can significantly influence these dynamics, underscoring the need for prioritization within national policies. It’s crucial to assess how specific environmental choices might affect the mental well-being of residents in the immediate vicinity of certain projects or developments. This consideration extends beyond just the residents’ health and welfare; it also encompasses the potential ramifications for government finances. Recognizing that mental health, or its absence, can directly impact fiscal matters adds another layer of importance to this discussion, warranting dedicated attention and deliberation.

Additional factors encompass employment status, social exclusion or inclusion, the extent of community support, educational attainment, living conditions, sexual orientation, experiences of abuse in childhood or adulthood, family loss, marital separations, chronic illnesses, and more. When such episodes occur during childhood or adolescence, children remain vulnerable, with a possibility that these experiences may continue to impact them into adulthood, potentially resulting in ongoing suffering.

Embracing boldness

Hence, it’s important to understand that even those who seem “normal” among their friends or within their family circle could be grappling with profound psychological distress internally and emotionally. If we overlook their struggles, they may persist in feeling isolated and unheard. Despite being surrounded by others; these individuals may still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Recognizing this reality is paramount.

In the journey of life, we all face moments when we need a helping hand, regardless of the challenges we encounter. Recognizing that seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment of our shared humanity, is crucial. Whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or a professional, assistance is available, waiting to be sought. So, take that courageous step forward, not just for yourself, but for the cherished ones around you. By embracing the support available, you pave the way for a brighter, more fulfilling life journey together. Remember, courage is the beacon guiding us through the darkest of times towards a brighter tomorrow!

 

Mario Fava
President

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The factors that may contribute to suicidal thoughts

Suicide is not an unavoidable outcome; rather, it is often preventable. Crucially, tackling stigma and delving into the intricate web of factors that contribute to this risk are essential steps in implementing effective measures and protective strategies. Research indicates that understanding and addressing the complexities of individual circumstances is key to identifying and supporting those at risk.

Statistics

Statistics reveal a somber reality: in the United Kingdom, the loss of 115 lives to suicide every week is a stark reminder of the magnitude of this issue. Shockingly, one out of every five individuals in the UK grapples with suicidal thoughts. Even more alarming is the fact that approximately one in every twenty individuals will take the drastic step of attempting suicide. Adding to this grim picture, on a global scale, a person succumbs to suicide every forty seconds, highlighting the urgency of addressing this widespread concern. Astonishingly, this frequency equates to the annual toll of deaths from war or homicide, underscoring the profound impact of suicide on societies worldwide.

What leads to this phenomenon?

It’s a troubling reality that one in every five individuals contends with or contemplates suicide. Yet, research underscores the possibility of prevention. The setting in which these thoughts emerge, whether it be the home, workplace, or community, is pivotal. When negative experiences, emotions, and circumstances pervade within the familial, professional, or societal spheres, coupled with feelings of isolation, the notion that death is the sole remedy to alleviate suffering and negativity becomes deeply entrenched in the individual’s psyche.Despite this, it’s essential not to conjecture about the emotional state of others facing similar challenges or to downplay the circumstances that could lead to such struggles. Undoubtedly, each of us knows someone, whether directly or through a friend or family member, who has endured such distressing experiences. It’s crucial not to pass judgment on the individual or their family.

We must avoid the error of prejudging individuals solely based on factors like lack of education, financial hardship, or living alone. It’s crucial to recognize that individuals facing these circumstances may indeed be more vulnerable to such temptations. While these factors do play a significant role, research underscores that the absence of supportive social connections, stable employment, or a supportive network increases the likelihood of reaching this point. However, it’s important to acknowledge that anyone, regardless of their background, can experience conditions like depression or anxiety. These struggles are not exclusive to any particular group, and no one should bear the burden alone.

Anticipated Risks

Just as with everything else, not every experience is impacted in the same manner when encountering specific situations. Individual reactions vary significantly in different circumstances. These situations encompass personal, social, community, and relational aspects. What are these diverse risks that we frequently identify before they escalate too far?

Personal Risks

Navigating life’s challenges can be especially taxing for individuals facing a multitude of personal risks. These include:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • History of depression or mental illness
  • Chronic illness or health problems
  • Legal or criminal issues
  • Financial or employment problems
  • Unstable housing
  • Substance abuse or alcohol misuse
  • Past experiences of negative childhood events
  • Victimization and exposure to violence
  • Loss of hope for the future

 

Social Risks

Stigma associated with seeking mental health care

  • Easy access to means to commit suicide
  • Poor media reporting on suicide or its absence

 Community Risks

  • Lack of access to education and support
  • Community violence
  • Historical trauma in the community
  • Discrimination
  • Cultural maladjustment failure
  • Exclusion

 

Risks in Relationships

  • Bullying
  • Abuse of intimate family members such as parents or children
  • Breakdown in marital relationships
  • Relationship violence
  • Social or familial isolation
  • Experience of suicidal thoughts within the family
  • Breakdown in communication rapport with children, parents, or other loved ones

Perceptions

Misconceptions can be highly misleading, often rooted in a form of ignorance about the subject. These misperceptions usually arise from individuals who genuinely lack a deeper understanding.

Consider the common belief that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal might implant the idea of suicide in their minds. This notion, however, is far from accurate. In reality, approaching someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts with sensitivity and concern can be profoundly helpful. It communicates to them that there is someone who genuinely cares about their well-being. It’s not about suggesting the idea of suicide but rather about opening up a dialogue and offering support. This approach can play a crucial role in fostering understanding and potentially saving lives.

Another common perception is that when an individual speaks about attempting suicide, they are simply seeking attention. Alternatively, there’s the belief that if someone is seriously contemplating suicide, there’s little that can be done because the decision has already been made. You might occasionally hear people argue that it’s impossible to dissuade someone from sending certain signals indicating their intent to commit suicide. Perhaps you’ve also encountered the idea that those who take their own lives are selfish, solely concerned with themselves and oblivious to the aftermath they leave behind. Additionally, some may believe that once someone considers ending their life, they will persist in that mindset indefinitely, without hope for recovery.

This is an absolute misconception. Discussing suicide does not imply encouragement for those contemplating it or experiencing distress. On the contrary, the more openly we address the topic, the more we work to dismantle the stigma surrounding seeking help. Asking direct questions is far simpler than assuming everything is fine because we assume a particular individual would never consider such thoughts. When someone in this vulnerable state encounters someone willing to engage in conversation and inquire about their well-being, they may initially feel helpless. However, this interaction can demonstrate that there are people who genuinely care about them. This realization increases the likelihood that they will recognize the availability of help and understand that support is easily accessible and readily obtainable.

Signs of distress

Each and every one of us is obligated to pay attention and offer assistance, or refer individuals who may find themselves in such situations. Individuals experiencing these thoughts often, more often than not, will exhibit signs of being isolated and excluded, even from casual discussions. In some instances, the intent may be premeditated, and this could also be done to make the victim’s close contacts aware that there has been a change in the individual’s attitude or behaviors.

The significance of every spoken word often surpasses our awareness, as we cannot always discern the depth of stress or anxiety another person may be experiencing. Hence, it becomes imperative for us to exercise caution in our choice of words, the tone we employ, and the approach we adopt. It’s more than merely displaying empathy; it’s about understanding that by sharing our experiences and what our close ones are enduring, we enhance our ability to recognize early signs of distress.

Taking occasional pauses amidst the whirlwind of life could prove invaluable. These moments allow us to delve deeper into our interactions, to listen more intently to each other, and to genuinely inquire about someone’s well-being without making assumptions. Because when we make time for one another and for the lives we lead, it undoubtedly enriches us all.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

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Active Ageing in The Community

The community plays a crucial role in supporting the well-being of its elderly residents. Regular visits from relatives are particularly valuable as they contribute significantly to the emotional health of the elderly. Research indicates that when seniors experience social isolation, it can lead to a decline in both their physical and mental health, sometimes even resulting in premature death.

Therefore, it’s imperative for the community to prioritize efforts to ensure that older adults can remain integrated and connected within their familiar surroundings. By facilitating opportunities for continued engagement and social interaction, we can help safeguard the health and longevity of our elderly population. This involves not only providing essential services and resources but also fostering a sense of belonging and purpose within their communities, where they have deep roots and cherished memories.

The crucial role of the community for seniors’ citizens

The fabric of our community is woven from the threads of social interactions, encompassing both longstanding connections and fresh acquaintances, as well as family ties, various organizations, associations, and other networks. Together, these elements forge a profound sense of well-being and rootedness within our local landscape.

Our objective should center on fostering a heightened communal spirit, wherein our elderly populace finds renewed avenues for engagement and contribution, perhaps even offering their expertise in domains they’ve long been affiliated with. This dynamic involvement serves to keep them vital and perpetually intertwined with fellow members of society, ensuring their continued enrichment and active participation in the fabric of our shared community.

How could the community lend a hand in all this ?

Individuals residing within a community serves as a guardian of memories, cherishing experiences to later share with those they interact with most frequently. This exchange of memories serves to alleviate feelings of isolation, creating a sense of connection that distances them from solitude. As a result, there is a natural decline in instances of depression and dementia, among other conditions. This positive outcome is attributed to their sustained emotional engagement in communal activities and ongoing interaction with fellow community members. Such active involvement enriches the latter stages of their life, ensuring they are enveloped by a vibrant and fulfilling environment.

Communities serve as reservoirs of new experiences, paving the way for future growth and development.

The cohesion of community fosters a sense of youthfulness and contentment among the elderly. Their engagement in various activities and the formation of new memories not only enrich their own lives but also contribute to the collective memory of society. Whether they involve themselves in practical tasks, attend religious services, utilize council facilities like libraries, partake in cultural festivities, or join community celebrations such as village feasts and Christmas receptions, each activity serves to fulfill our communal objectives. Moreover, this active involvement positively impacts their physical and mental well-being.

I advocate for the development of such platforms by the Local Council, ensuring that all members of the community remain active and engaged, including their participation in council decisions and initiatives.

Assessment of health, safety, and overall well-being

An additional significant aspect underscoring the importance of elderly individuals remaining within their community is the provision of opportunities for their relatives, neighbors, and friends to extend support in cases of health, safety, or well-being concerns. This vital network of care is sustained by their ongoing engagement and involvement in community activities, ensuring a constant connection that fosters mutual assistance and solidarity

This principle extends to situations where an individual grapples with chronic conditions. Here, community members often possess the perceptiveness to discern the person’s needs and offer assistance as required. In such circumstances, the profound sense of belonging within the local community becomes especially evident, particularly for individuals who lack close relatives to rely on. Nonetheless, through collaborative endeavors, the community ensures that these individuals can sustain their residency and remain integrated within their community

In different circumstances, a person who is feeling isolated may choose not to attend parish services. When an individual unexpectedly misses a parish meeting, which they would typically always attend, it raises concerns. Likewise, if someone starts to withdraw from regular participation in monthly activities, it sparks questions about whether underlying thoughts or conditions are impacting their ability to engage with others. These situations illustrate the intricate relationship between social interaction and mental health.

This fosters a sense of security among the elderly, as they recognize that there are individuals genuinely concerned about their safety, well-being, and welfare. This stands in stark contrast to the desolation of being forsaken in a hospital room, awaiting the embrace of death without the solace of companionship.

Beyond mere empathy, respect, and mutual obligation, the cherished values upheld by this community are akin to precious gold, indispensable for fostering progress within society.

How can we facilitate their sense of being integral and essential ?

As observed, the role of elderly activism is pivotal, offering them a sense of purpose and fulfillment, fostering continued engagement and activity in this phase of life. Exploring diverse avenues, we can actively contribute to their thriving presence within the community.

  1. Encourage them to participate in community activities.

When senior citizens actively participate in community life, they contribute significantly to the overall well-being of the community. Implementing beneficial initiatives such as establishing libraries, day centers, cultural events, and associations dedicated to preserving local heritage and traditions can greatly enhance the community’s vibrancy. Importantly, these efforts extend beyond the elderly to include individuals who have lost their life partners after many years together. By providing meaningful engagement opportunities, these initiatives serve as a powerful antidote to loneliness and isolation.

  1. Physical activities

By encouraging the elderly to participate in physical or sporting activities, with councils taking on a pivotal role either independently or in collaboration with local associations to organize such activities or develop other tailored games aimed at keeping the elderly actively engaged within the community. This initiative not only improves their physical health but also creates opportunities for them to establish new connections and socialize.

  1. Virtual communities

The internet serves as a potent tool with vast potential for maintaining connections, even when individuals are physically separated. Through the organization of family or friend groups, individuals can utilize a combination of phone calls, messages, and video calls to sustain regular communication with their loved ones. Moreover, tailored virtual communities cater to diverse interests, enabling members to engage in vibrant exchanges of experiences and ideas. These platforms often function as dynamic forums for sharing insights and perspectives. Despite the absence of physical presence, they evoke sensory stimulation, including the sense of touch. Furthermore, they offer avenues for discussing shared conditions, fostering a sense of solidarity and mutual support. The profound impact on mental well-being is immeasurable.

  1. Homes for the elderly in the community

In situations where none of the previously mentioned alternatives prove to be suitable for an individual, it becomes imperative to advocate for the elderly to contemplate relocating to residences within their own community. This not only addresses feelings of loneliness but also ensures they remain within a familiar and supportive environment akin to family. Furthermore, such a move presents an opportunity for them to reunite with former neighbours with whom they shared many years of companionship, now residing in similar homes. This rekindling of connections fosters a profound sense of security as they are surrounded by familiar faces and shared memories. However, it’s important to note that this transition doesn’t preclude the possibility of forging new friendships and continuing to integrate within their community.

These homes often also feature sports facilities and cultural activities, which further contribute to fulfilling the goals we highlighted earlier.

Conclusion

Elderly individuals or those entering their twilight years embody a beautiful facet of life, particularly when one values living well and is fortunate enough to avoid certain health complications. Nonetheless, even in the face of health challenges, we have the capacity to cultivate an environment that caters to their needs. What could be more noble than becoming instrumental in assisting our elderly to live their elderliness within a community setting? Certainly, if we acknowledge and actively strive towards this goal, not only would the community flourish, not only would their lives be enhanced, but also the lives of their descendants and our own would reap the rewards of their engagement in society. Their wisdom and life experiences hold the potential to impart a positive influence upon us all.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

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Young people wield the power to bolster trust in Local Government

The resource that is often underestimated but can significantly contribute to the progress of local governments is youth. Yes, young people sometimes grow impatient with the pace of progress in their communities and may even take it for granted, but they are a valuable resource. They can serve as a primary catalyst in a strategy designed to engage and empower residents by their respective Local Governments.

Often, youth are overlooked when discussing strategies aimed at increasing resident participation. This oversight can occur for various reasons.

Perhaps because they don’t yet have voting rights, perhaps because they don’t pay taxes, perhaps because they don’t contribute directly to the country’s economy to the same extent, or perhaps because they lack property ownership, etc. Nevertheless, young people represent the future of our communities and our local and regional authorities.

In this context, Youth Councils are crucial; they represent a unique opportunity for Local Governments to infiltrate schools, colleges, and universities. They also provide a platform through which we can cultivate interest in Local Government, promote the principles of local democracy, and foster the concept of direct participation in decision-making processes that affect us directly. Typically, when young people engage themselves, they are more likely to remain actively involved in their local community, establishing themselves as participating residents.

Local Youth Councils can also be instrumental in addressing the erosion of trust in Local Councils. It’s possible that trust in Local Councils has waned somewhat, and this can be attributed to various factors. I also consider external influences, although the reasons may vary. Certainly, the pandemic hasn’t helped much as physical distancing has created a certain disconnect, we were almost beginning to overcome.

What does it offer in terms of participation?

When sections of society have experienced marginalization for an extended period, it’s conceivable that council members may not fully grasp the significance of integrating these groups into the council’s efforts. Frequently, the enthusiasm and innovative outlook of younger individuals can facilitate connections with these marginalized groups and construct bridges that previously might have been overlooked as unnecessary. Numerous instances of successful approaches substantiate this assertion, both domestically and internationally.

Ensuring full participation in decision-making processes is not just a mere aspiration; it is a fundamental right deeply rooted in the principles of the universal declaration of human rights. By actively engaging young people in these processes, we empower them to shape and implement initiatives they believe will benefit both themselves and their communities, while fostering their involvement in the development of their localities. However, it’s crucial not only to afford them the opportunity to contribute but also to support them in honing their skills in ways that serve others. This approach not only guarantees and ensures that tomorrow’s adult residents possess a strong civic sense but also leads to a myriad of benefits for the locality as a whole. From improved community cohesion to innovative solutions for local challenges, the active involvement of young people in decision-making processes lays the groundwork for a more inclusive, vibrant, and prosperous society.

Erasmus+

In addition, young people have various opportunities for skill exchange to enhance their abilities in this regard. The Erasmus+ program, funded by European sources, serves as a prime example of this. Let’s take a closer look at this initiative and how it can assist young individuals in acquiring the necessary skills.

This program supports activities beyond formal education and training that encourage, empower, and facilitate the participation of young people in the democratic life of Europe at local, regional, national, and European levels.

Erasmus+ serves as a cornerstone in fostering youth-led participation projects at various levels, be it local, national, transnational, or international. These endeavors, spearheaded by young individuals and overseen by informal youth groups or organizations, represent a concerted effort to bolster democratic engagement among Europe’s youth populace. They are driven by a multifaceted approach aimed at achieving one or more of the following overarching objectives:

  • They play a pivotal role in providing young individuals with invaluable opportunities to actively engage and develop their participation skills within civil society. These pathways not only facilitate youth involvement in their daily activities but also extend to nurturing their engagement in democratic processes. The overarching goal is to cultivate meaningful involvement in various aspects of civic, economic, social, cultural, and political spheres among young people from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, there is a deliberate focus on ensuring that those facing greater barriers to participation are provided with targeted support, thereby promoting inclusivity and equity within society.
  • They play a crucial role in increasing awareness among young individuals regarding shared values and fundamental rights within Europe, thereby actively contributing to the ongoing process of European integration. This contribution extends to the attainment of one or more of the EU Youth Goals, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the principles that underpin the European Union’s mission and objectives.
  • They develop the digital competencies and media literacy of young people, particularly critical thinking, and the ability to evaluate and work with information, with the aim of enhancing youth resilience to misinformation, fake news, and propaganda, as well as their ability to participate in democratic life.
  • They connect young people with decision-makers at the local, regional, national, and transnational levels, or contribute to the EU Youth Dialogue, facilitating meaningful engagement and participation in democratic processes.

 

The EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 serves as a pivotal framework for fostering collaboration across Europe concerning youth affairs, drawing inspiration from the European Commission’s Communication issued on 22nd May 2018, titled “Engagement, Connection, and Empowerment of Youth”. Central to this strategy is the pivotal domain of “Involvement”, which seeks to propel the active engagement of young individuals across various spheres: be it civic, economic, social, cultural, or political. The overarching objective is to galvanize youth participation within democratic processes, amplifying their voices within societal discourse. Moreover, the strategy is dedicated to bolstering social cohesion and civic responsibility among young people, thereby fortifying the foundations of democratic societies. By equipping young individuals with the requisite resources and opportunities, the strategy endeavors to ensure their holistic integration into society, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to its development and progress.

The EU Youth Strategy also encompasses a dialogue process with young people. In this context, in 2018, 11 European youth goals were developed through a dialogue with young people. These goals identify a range of cross-sectoral areas impacting youth life and highlight the challenges that need to be addressed in each of them. In collaboration with relevant stakeholders and youth representatives, each 18-month cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue identifies specific thematic priorities. These priorities are carefully selected to guide the implementation focus of the EU Youth Strategy during that particular period. This dynamic dialogue process ensures that the strategy remains responsive to the evolving needs and concerns of young people, fostering a targeted and effective approach to address the various aspects of youth life across Europe.

Thematic strategies in the youth sector

The Erasmus+ program aims to promote youth participation, enhance the quality of informal and non-formal learning processes, and foster quality work among young people. Further support in these areas is available through specific thematic strategies, such as the Youth Participation Strategy, Youthpass, and the European Training Strategy (ETS).

Activity breakdown

Youth participation activities are non-formal learning activities that focus on active youth involvement. These activities aim to enable young people to experience exchanges, cooperation, cultural, and civic action. Supported activities help participants strengthen their personal, social, citizenship, and digital competencies, making them active European citizens.

This action supports the use of alternative, innovative, smart, and digital forms of youth participation, including expanding youth participation across various sectors and spaces (such as healthcare services, sports facilities, etc., regardless of whether they are operated by the public or private sector), thus opening up pathways for active youth participation from all backgrounds.

Youth engagement initiatives play a pivotal role in fostering dialogues and exchanges between young individuals and policymakers, thus bolstering their active involvement in democratic processes throughout Europe. This proactive engagement enables young people to effectively voice their perspectives by articulating their opinions, presenting proposals, and offering recommendations, particularly regarding the formulation and execution of youth policies across Europe. Furthermore, these activities extend beyond mere discourse, encompassing civic action and youth activism, empowering young individuals to engage in diverse avenues aimed at raising awareness about issues of significance to them.

Youth participation activities can be either transnational (implemented across one or more participating countries and involving informal groups of young people and/or organizations from different participating countries) or national (involving informal groups of young people and/or organizations from one participating country). National youth participation activities are particularly suitable for testing ideas at the local level and as a follow-up to previous initiatives, aiding in the refinement and further development of successful ideas.

All youth participation activities, regardless of the level at which they are implemented, need to have a clear European dimension and/or added value, and each supported individual activity must contribute clearly to achieving one or more of the objectives listed above.

Supported activities can encompass a variety of formats, either individually or in combination. These include workshops, debates, role-playing games, simulations, utilizing digital tools (such as those for digital democracy), awareness campaigns, training sessions, meetings, and other modes of online or offline interaction between young individuals and decision-makers. Additionally, supported activities may involve consultations, informational events, cultural gatherings, or any combination thereof.

Some of these activities can be implemented within a project:

  • Events such as workshops, face-to-face or online meetings, seminars, and other gatherings serve as vital platforms for the active engagement of young people across local, regional, national, and transnational levels within Europe. These events aim to facilitate information sharing, foster debate, and encourage the active participation of youth in matters directly impacting their daily lives as European citizens.
  • The primary objective of these events is to provide a forum where young individuals can not only gain valuable insights but also actively contribute to discussions on pertinent issues. Moreover, they offer opportunities for interaction with decision-makers and other stakeholders involved in addressing these concerns. By bridging the gap between youth and decision-makers, these events promote a more inclusive and democratic approach to governance, where the voices of young people are heard and considered in shaping policies and initiatives relevant to their communities and beyond.
  • Engaging in consultations with young individuals aimed at pinpointing subjects or queries that hold particular significance to them within local, regional, national, or transnational contexts. Through these consultations, the objective is to discern the specific needs of young people concerning their involvement in addressing these identified subjects or questions.
  • Initiating awareness campaigns with a focus on fostering youth engagement in democratic processes. These campaigns encompass a range of activities, including informational sessions and cultural events, strategically designed to address specific societal challenges pertinent to young individuals. Through these initiatives, the aim is to empower youth to actively participate in shaping democratic discourse and addressing issues that directly impact their lives.
  • Enabling young people to access inclusive and secure virtual or physical spaces, thereby granting them effective educational avenues to actively participate in civic life and democratic procedures. This facilitation aims to empower youth by providing them with the necessary resources and platforms to learn about and engage in democratic processes, fostering their sense of citizenship and community involvement.
  • Engaging in simulations that replicate the operations of democratic institutions and explore the responsibilities of decision-makers within them.

In contexts where applicable, there’s a strong recommendation to integrate digital activity formats and provide training on the utilization of digital democracy tools within youth participation projects. These initiatives should encompass a diverse range of activities designed to collectively advance towards the project’s envisioned goals. By incorporating digital components and fostering digital literacy among participants, these projects can effectively leverage technology to enhance youth engagement and facilitate their active involvement in democratic processes.

The funding for these activities predominantly comes from the “project management” budget category, which entails a monthly contribution per unit. Within this framework, the project activities typically encompass various facets such as project management meetings and consistently conducted project activities. Additionally, the project may incorporate one or more events centered around Youth Participation. This financing structure ensures sustained support for the implementation and coordination of initiatives aimed at fostering youth engagement and participation.

The designation “physical events” refers to gatherings crucial for advancing the project’s goals; they often signify pivotal milestones within the project timeline and must be clearly distinguished from ongoing project undertakings, whether in terms of content, scale, or attendee demographics. Additionally, a Youth Participation event denotes a physical assembly where young individuals are physically present, alongside other relevant participants. Such events attract not only members of informal groups or youths from beneficiary organizations directly engaged in project activities but also a diverse audience comprising young people and/or decision-makers. It’s imperative that the event’s duration aligns with planned activities and desired outcomes, accommodating variations in length, spanning from brief sessions lasting hours to comprehensive gatherings spanning multiple days. Specific assistance for organizing physical events is provided on a “per participant per event” basis, irrespective of event duration.

Youth participation projects that involve project activities or physical events requiring participants to travel to different locations from where they reside may be eligible for additional funding for mobility, which covers travel and subsistence support. Mobility Youth Participation projects can be both national and international, but they always support project activities funded through project management costs or youth participation event expenses.

Activities such as statutory meetings of organizations or networks, the arrangement of partisan political events, and investments in physical infrastructure (e.g., building construction or acquisition costs, as well as permanent fixtures) cannot be funded within the scope of this Action.

Projects demonstrating robust participation elements, extending beyond the conventional format of youth engagement activities, along with pertinent best practices, are accessible within the Youth Participation Tools Set.

An established project

A project endorsed by this Action ought to incorporate one or several of the aforementioned elements. These components can be dynamically integrated based on the project’s goals and the requirements of participating organization(s) and participants.

The execution of the project is carried out by either one or multiple informal youth groups, one or more organizations, or a combination thereof. It is imperative to identify the informal youth group(s) and/or participating organizations during the application phase. Additional youth may participate in the project as either active participants in certain activities or as constituents of the group targeting said activities. In cases where only an informal youth group is involved, an application is submitted by one of its members acting on behalf of the group. However, if multiple groups or organizations are engaged, one of them assumes the role of coordinator and submits the application for the entire project on behalf of the consortium.

A project is structured into four distinct phases: planning, preparation, implementation, and follow-up. It is crucial for both participating organizations and the youth involved to actively participate in each of these stages to enrich their learning journey. Through actively engaging in the planning, preparation, implementation, and follow-up phases, participants can significantly enhance their learning experience. Moreover, as the activities are tailored by youth for youth, it fosters a more relatable and engaging environment. Additionally, to further bolster youth participation, the Youth Participation Toolkit serves as a valuable resource, offering a plethora of ideas and practical guidance:

  • Planning Phase: This initial stage involves thorough planning encompassing the identification of needs, setting objectives, delineating learning outcomes, determining activity formats, devising program development strategies, and crafting a detailed activity schedule.
  • Preparation Phase: During this phase, practical arrangements are made, agreements are established with partners, and confirmation is sought from the targeted groups earmarked for the planned activities. Additionally, linguistic, intercultural, and preparatory measures related to participants’ learning and tasks are undertaken to ensure smooth execution
  • Implementation Phase: Here, the planned activities are put into action, with careful attention paid to adhering to the established schedule and executing each activity effectively.
  • Follow-up Phase: Following the completion of activities, this phase involves the evaluation of their effectiveness, the identification, and documentation of participants’ learning outcomes, and the dissemination and utilization of project outcomes. Notably, as part of this phase, it’s imperative for each project to devise a feedback mechanism to provide specific achievements to the youth participants. This feedback should also outline how these achievements will be communicated to relevant stakeholders and utilized by them.

EU Youth Dialogue

The themes and focal points outlined in the EU Youth Dialogue offer valuable inspiration for youth engagement initiatives across various levels. Likewise, the EU Youth Goals, established within the framework of the EU Youth Dialogue, provide additional avenues for inspiration. These goals pinpoint cross-sectoral domains impacting youth and highlight key challenges. Moreover, the outcomes achieved through successful youth participation endeavours can be leveraged as valuable contributions to advance subsequent stages of the EU Youth Dialogue.

The Learning processes

In a Youth Participation Activities project, it’s essential to incorporate assistance for fostering reflection, identifying, and documenting the individual learning accomplishments of every participant. This support should extend to all individuals involved, regardless of whether they belong to informal youth groups leading the project or are not actively engaged in the preparation and execution phases. A key avenue for facilitating this process is through mechanisms like the Youthpass.

Protection and Safety of Participants

Throughout the project planning and preparation phases, the issue of participant protection and safety must be addressed, with all necessary measures provided for the prevention and mitigation of risks.

Community Building

Encouraging the integration of community-building activities within youth participation initiatives is highly recommended. Whenever possible, these activities should strive to extend beyond the lifespan of the supported projects and evolve into self-sustaining endeavours.

Inclusion and diversity

The Erasmus+ program is dedicated to fostering equality, accessibility, inclusion, and fairness in all its endeavours. Applicants are mandated to devise projects that prioritize accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring that the perspectives of participants with fewer opportunities are taken into account and actively involved in the decision-making process.

Youth participation activities are particularly suitable for the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.

  • Youth participation activities are structured as fundamental action formats with extremely flexible parameters, including duration, participant numbers, and whether they are conducted on a national or transnational scale. This adaptability allows for easy customization to meet the specific needs of young people facing fewer opportunities.
  • Informal youth groups embarking on youth participation initiatives can receive valuable support through coaching services. These services play a crucial role in guiding and assisting young people, especially those facing fewer opportunities, throughout the development and execution phases of their projects.
  • The action objectives include providing opportunities for youth to participate in civic society, as well as improving digital and media literacy. Projects aligned with these goals can be particularly beneficial in helping young people facing fewer opportunities address some of the challenges they may encounter.

Youth participation activities are well-suited for addressing themes of inclusion and diversity within society. They serve as effective platforms to combat stereotypes, foster understanding, promote tolerance, and advocate for non-discrimination.

Environmental Sustainability

The primary objective of the project is to foster a culture of environmentally sustainable and responsible conduct among participants, emphasizing the critical need to mitigate or compensate for the environmental impact associated with mobility activities. This multifaceted endeavor involves not only raising awareness but also actively developing and implementing a range of environmentally conscious strategies. These strategies encompass various sustainable practices, including but not limited to the careful selection of materials that can be reused or have minimal environmental impact, robust waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and the promotion and adoption of sustainable transportation modes. By integrating these practices into the fabric of the project, we aim to instill a deep sense of environmental stewardship and inspire tangible action towards a more sustainable future.

Digital Transformation in the youth sector

The Erasmus+ program serves as a vital support system for all participating organizations, facilitating the seamless integration of digital tools and innovative learning methods into their existing frameworks. This integration aims to not only complement traditional physical activities but also to foster greater collaboration among partner organizations and elevate the overall quality of experiences offered. By advocating for the incorporation of digital and online elements, the program actively works to mitigate barriers that may impede youth participation and limit opportunities for engagement.

Moreover, Erasmus+ endeavors to catalyze a profound shift in perspective through a series of targeted projects and activities. These initiatives are designed to not only promote the acquisition of essential digital skills but also to address critical aspects of digital literacy. Additionally, they seek to cultivate a nuanced understanding of both the risks and the vast opportunities presented by digital technology in a contemporary society.

Through these concerted efforts, the Erasmus+ program seeks to initiate a transformative process, altering entrenched mindsets and fostering a culture of digital innovation and adaptability. By nurturing a generation of digitally savvy individuals, the program aims to contribute significantly to the ongoing evolution of digital approaches and components within the realm of youth activities, ultimately empowering young people to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

In alignment with the activities’ definitions and objectives, integrating the development of competencies and awareness surrounding digital issues, along with the incorporation of new technologies, can be seamlessly woven into physical events or learning mobility initiatives. However, it’s important to note that purely virtual components should be allocated separate funding streams, distinct from project management expenses.

Furthermore, justified expenditures aimed at fostering the inclusion of youth with fewer opportunities can be channelled through participant inclusion support mechanisms. This approach ensures that financial resources are allocated strategically, maximizing the impact of the program while safeguarding equitable access for all participants.

Participation

The Erasmus+ program supports all participating organizations in enhancing the quality of their projects by integrating participatory dimensions. Simultaneously, it provides relevant opportunities for youth to actively engage in the creation and implementation of project activities, serving as a pathway for discovering the benefits of active citizenship and participation in democratic life. Resources for strengthening the participatory dimensions of supported projects can be accessed, among other avenues, through the website participationpool.eu. Additionally, organizations are encouraged to establish connections with national, international, or other existing EU initiatives and platforms focused on participation and civic engagement, fostering collaboration and involvement therein.

Who can apply?

Any eligible participating organization established in a Member State of the EU or in an associated third country to the Program can be the applicant. This organization applies on behalf of all participating organizations involved in the project.

Eligible participating organizations

The participating organization can be:

  • An organization without a profit motive, association, NGO; European Youth NGO; public body at the local, regional, national level; social enterprise; a profit-oriented organization with active Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR);
  • An informal group of young people.

Established in a Member State of the EU or in an associated country to the Programme or in a non-associated country to the Programme within the EU’s geographical area (Regions 1 to 4; refer to the “Eligible Countries” section in Part A of this Guide).

Number and profile of participating organizations

  • National Youth Participation Projects: Require the involvement of a minimum of one participating organization.
  • Transnational and International Youth Participation Projects: Require the participation of at least two organizations from different countries.

Eligible Participants

Young people between the ages of 13 and 30, residing in the country where the participating organizations are based, as well as those who play a role in making decisions relevant to the project’s focus areas, are eligible to participate.

This underscores that individuals aspiring to contribute to their communities require not only personal motivation but also access to resources, which this program aims to provide. Therefore, by nurturing active youth engagement within a locality or community, we are not only investing in its future prosperity but also enhancing its current vibrancy.

 

Mario Fava
President

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Mental Health in The Community

In a world increasingly shaped and dominated by digital systems, the significance of the support that communities can provide for mental well-being cannot be overlooked. While professional assistance and medication undoubtedly remain crucial, what emerges from human interaction facilitated in a community support context is of paramount importance.

This is what we will be discussing in this article: how the impact of a cohesive and tolerant community, along with experiences that can easily be shared among us, leads to the establishment of a foundation with a healthy level of emotional resilience.

The need for us to connect effectively

Human beings inherently have a need and a desire to connect and feel a sense of belonging to something or someone. When social bonds are strong, they not only fulfill emotional, social, and psychological needs but also serve as a buffer against life’s many challenges. In moments of stress, anxiety, or depression, knowing that there are members in the community where you live can give you courage and provide support independently of the obligations towards their own families. This support doesn’t only come from immediate family but also from genuine friends who want to be there for you and listen to what you have to say.

As members of the human race living in society, we should feel this connection within us and understand that one person with social problems can also lead to reaching out to more negative people if we are unable to provide help.

Reducing stigma and isolation

Certainly, one of the biggest obstacles to seeking help for mental health issues is the fear of isolation and stigma. Therefore, it is crucial that communities have platforms that facilitate discussions and exchange of experiences to overcome this barrier and encourage more people to seek help before it’s too late. When a person feels supported and realizes they are not alone, they are more comfortable seeking help and talking about the problems they are facing. This leads to open, honest, and mature conversations so that the individual feels a sense of belonging to that community as well.

The sense of belonging

We’ve discussed the importance of a sense of belonging and how being part of a community contributes to one’s self-esteem, ultimately enabling a person to truly believe in their own value. This understanding stems from the fact that others take an interest in how one feels, their challenges, and therefore, this sense of belonging sends a powerful message that even in the face of significant challenges, everyone is valid and capable of succeeding in the life they choose to live. When a person feels valued and accepted, it’s more likely that they’ll develop a conviction about the importance of self-evaluation and the significance of embracing and accepting who they are.

Experiences and empathy

The strength of community support emerges from the sharing of experiences and empathy that members of the same community can offer to one another. When individuals facing similar challenges and problems come together and talk, they provide immense support to each other, extending beyond mere sympathy. This leads to a sense of not feeling alone because more than just seeing a community “sympathize” with these individuals, we witness an empathetic community ready to listen, understand, and care. This sensitivity reinforces the belief of individuals seeking help that there are indeed those interested in them and that there are people in the community willing to provide all necessary assistance without passing judgment on their past or present. This also contributes to the creation of a more resilient and interconnected community, where one person’s challenges are everyone’s challenges.

Emotion and resilience

Community support serves as a stable “anchor” during times of emotional upheaval, fostering a safe space for individuals to express their feelings and receive empathy in return. This exchange not only offers emotional relief but also demonstrates resilience in action, as individuals navigate through challenging periods. Such platforms play a crucial role in promoting empathy and showcasing practical examples of resilience. Moreover, sharing experiences allows for collective learning, contributing to a deeper understanding of resilience within the community and empowering individuals to tackle challenges effectively.

How can a Local Council involve itself in all of this?

To address stigma, which still permeates this sector, open and honest discussions at the community level are necessary to foster a general sense of acceptance for mental health. Local councils, through various platforms, have a social obligation to the community to ensure space for this process. This can also be achieved through initiatives of diverse campaigns within society. When an individual feels comfortable speaking about their experiences on one of these platforms, it fosters a tremendous sense of acceptance and personal development. Local councils should not retreat from this responsibility by merely paying lip service, as doing so would only perpetuate the problem. Instead, they should act as catalysts to ensure they embrace the true meaning of inclusivity in the community.

Let’s explore a welcoming environment

To support individuals facing these challenges, it’s essential to create a welcoming environment where they feel safe to speak up and share their experiences. This encouragement empowers them to become active members of the community, free from prejudice or stigma, rather than feeling excluded and isolated at home. Such an environment fosters confidence, enabling individuals to step out of their comfort zones and contribute to the broader community. By reducing negative attitudes and discrimination, we can stand in solidarity with these individuals and collectively build a more inclusive society.

Resources

Communities can function as central hubs for mental health resources, bringing together various stakeholders such as professionals, experts, individuals with lived experience, and relevant organizations. When a Local Council effectively coordinates these parties, it optimizes resource utilization and increases awareness about mental health issues. This collaborative effort results in a wider array of tools available to support those seeking help, ultimately improving the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Activities

Once individuals have been equipped with essential information on accessing support, a welcoming environment has been established, communication platforms have been set up, and resources have been pooled, the focus can shift to facilitating direct engagement. Organizing community activities not only makes individuals feel valued but also integrates them into the fabric of the community. These activities offer chances to connect with new people, potentially from diverse backgrounds, and promote collaboration within and across localities. This collaborative approach can extend regionally, strengthening the sector and enhancing support networks.

Digital communities

As local leaders, we must also consider the possibility that individuals may choose or prefer to seek assistance online. It is imperative to recognize this trend, as it may indicate a growing segment of our community who feel more comfortable seeking help in this manner. Moreover, it underscores the importance of ensuring that any platforms, activities, or environments we create prioritize virtual accessibility for these community members. This approach can also support those who may lack access to other resources. By implementing robust online support systems and fostering a secure digital environment, we can better serve our community and adapt to evolving needs.

Conclusion

As we can see, community support and engagement are crucial in addressing this challenge of mental health. It’s essential for interaction, understanding each other better, sharing our experiences, maximizing our limited resources, and affirming human dignity for all.

I believe that Local and Regional Councils play an important role in all of this, and I hope that we can work together with experts in the field to establish a safe, supportive, and empathetic framework where more people feel comfortable stepping forward and seeking help. The Association of Local Councils will be exploring how it can facilitate and initiate these community services, with the assistance and involvement of experts in the field.

 

Mario Fava
President

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The Pivotal Role of Local Councils in Fostering Development

The active engagement of residents in decision-making processes that directly impact their lives is paramount for ensuring long-term sustainability. This is especially crucial at the local level, where residents not only live and work but where essential services are provided and businesses thrive. Consequently, residents share a vested interest in setting objectives and collaborating to address challenges, with a focus on enhancing service efficiency, promoting equitable resource allocation, fostering social cohesion, and ensuring transparency and accountability in public governance.

Local Councils possess a distinct advantage due to their proximity to residents, which enables them to grasp local needs and priorities more intimately than any other institution. This proximity is particularly advantageous for improving public administration efficiency, advancing inclusive development, cultivating stronger relationships with community associations, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders, and offering solutions to address pressing local challenges. These challenges include issues such as social exclusion, immigration, poverty, inadequate infrastructure, urbanization, public safety concerns, and problems related to violence and abuse, exacerbated by climate change impacts.

Quality governance at the local level is pivotal for achieving sustainable development that benefits all members of the community. This entails fostering an effective and inclusive decision-making process that considers the diverse perspectives and needs of residents. Central to this endeavor is the commitment of the central government to empower Local Councils through legislative and regulatory frameworks, providing them with adequate autonomy and access to professional resources. Furthermore, quality governance relies on nurturing transparent and collaborative relationships with other public entities, the business community, and residents, who often provide support and resources to Local Councils.

Efforts to enhance public services at the local level, whether through extending existing services or providing additional ones, must be accompanied by bolstering local governance structures and investing more in administration and human resource capacities.

Similarly, other local entities should be empowered to demand greater transparency and accountability. It is imperative to ensure that Local Councils have the necessary tools and incentives to provide timely accountability for their work and the utmost transparency to their residents.

In the principle of subsidiarity, the central government should promote the active role of Local Councils as governing authorities that significantly contribute to shaping national development policies. Local Councils should also be acknowledged as authorities capable of making decisions at the local level with the highest standards of transparency and accountability, thus ensuring the delivery of top-quality services to the community.

 

Mario Fava
President

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The Mayor’s Profession

Similar to other employees, Mayors embark on their full-time responsibilities each day. They could function as educators, public servants, attorneys, or even engage in occupations such as factory work. Some may take on roles like chauffeurs or physicians. Others may pursue careers as skilled tradespeople, or they might have transitioned into retirement.

Much like typical employees, individuals in roles akin to Mayors encounter daily challenges and issues which they must independently tackle and resolve.  Those who are self-employed and assume the responsibilities of Mayors must safeguard their peace of mind by securing their daily income, as there is no guaranteed fixed monthly salary.

In contrast to other typical workers, the distinction lies in the fact that, as the day comes to a close, one cannot simply head home to family time. Instead, these individuals are obliged to proceed to the Council office to address any problems and issues that may have surfaced throughout the day. The visit to the Council serves as an opportunity to engage with residents and, when possible, confer with the Executive Secretary (if still present) to discuss tasks and priorities for the upcoming days. I mention this not to undermine the role of the Executive Secretary but because the Mayor’s visit to the Council office coincides with the time when the Council employees are wrapping up their workday.

Moreover, those working in the private sector, would have already availed themselves of a number of hours taken as vacation leave in order to attend meetings with government officials, organizations, or other governmental agencies. These instances often extend for these individuals to attend to consultation sessions with the Council’s architect concerning any projects within the vicinity, provided there aren’t any court session underway, due to instances where someone files a case against the Local Council on specific issues.

With absolute no consideration to flexibility and family-friendly measures most of the Mayors and Councillors, particularly those working in the private sector, would have already availed themselves of all of their vacation leave by May or June for work related to the Local Council.

Nevertheless, there’s an additional layer to consider. Unlike Ministries or Parliamentary Secretaries, Mayors operate differently and are a one man show with no support staff  (chief of staff, secretariat, public relations officers or personal assistants). Mayors need to self-handle any  Council statements, press calls and should they need third party consultation they need to fork out the expense themselves.  All of these tasks are to be carried out outsaid the usual working hours.

Under these circumstances one must understand that whatever happens in the locality always ends up on the Mayor’s lap.  This is the reality each Mayor or Regional President has to face especially of the these would really want to render the best and most appropriate service within their locality; one must also keep in mind that not all Mayors allocate this much quality time to their Local Council.

It is highly important that on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the presence of Local Councils in Malta this role would be seriously considered from a democratic and constitutional perspective.   One must stress the importance of having full time Mayors as the responsibilities they encounter even from a legal perspective go beyond those of backbenchers ( I am stating the latter with utmost respect since most of the backbenchers would have previously occupied this position)

Each Mayor or Regional President more than ever must bear the full responsibility if they ever are in any financial breach of their administrative tasks.  We require excellence in the Mayoralties, which necessitates a substantial transformation, not solely in their appointment but also in the number of elected councillors.

Every Mayor, Councillor, or Regional President should comprehend the duty to advocate for and serve everyone impartially, without showing favouritism to any resident or employee. In the context of Mayors, Regional Presidents must establish well-defined criteria for the requisite skills when applying for or contesting the position. Additionally, the candidate’s past history, where feasible, should be considered to uphold the principles of transparency and good governance.

The major political parties bear a duty to refrain from nominating or endorsing individuals with a track record of mismanagement or those lacking the essential skills for carrying out this role effectively.

Candidates must also publicly disclose their intentions regarding their commitment upon election, indicating whether they will serve as full-time or maintain their respective profession. This transparency is crucial because residents are entitled to prior knowledge of which candidates are prepared to wholeheartedly devote themselves to the community. It is their right to be well-informed when casting their votes, ensuring an informed and accurate decision based on their judgment.

The electoral process should undergo a change. Within a single election, there should be distinct votes for the Mayor and the Councillors. This implies that political parties must beforehand declare their mayoral and council candidates. Consequently, voters should receive two separate ballot papers, one for selecting the Mayor and another listing the names of potential Councillors if elected.

Additionally, this minimizes confusion since all candidates would be fully aware of the roles they will undertake if elected before the election commences.

Way back the Mayor’s role used to be mistakenly compared to that of a parliament backbencher, however this does not hold water. As I previously mentioned, the functions and responsibilities are distinct. Elected officials should be entitled to a salary that aligns with their responsibilities. Anyone arguing that a Mayor should not be entitled to a higher salary than that of a backbencher is lacking a proper understanding of the daily duties of this important role. Furthermore, I believe that a one-size-fits-all salary system doesn’t make sense, regardless of the size of the locality. While some may disagree, I see a significant difference between overseeing a community of 30,000 residents and one with 3,000 residents. This discrepancy should be reflected in the Mayor’s bonus in relation to their salary.

The approach to this matter is subject to extensive debate. One possible fair solution could involve setting an equal base salary for all initially, followed by an additional bonus dependent on the size of the locality. A portion of this expenditure could be claimed from the Councillors’ allowance pot following a scientific study that concludes a decrease in the number of warranted Councillors.

The undermentioned are approximate salaries of Mayors of other countries:

Approximate Mayor’s salary in Germany: €130,000

Approximate Mayor’s salary in France: €50,000

Approximate Mayor’s salary in Estonia: €55,000

Approximate Mayor’s salary in England: €70,000

 

Based on a survey conducted by the Congress within the Council of Europe for Local and Regional Authorities, out of the 33 member responses, 27 countries have established a system for full-time Mayors, while the remaining 6 do not have full-time Mayors but grant them allowances. Apart from the usual salary, in numerous countries, Mayors and councilors are also granted by their respective councils a number of paid leave days. Furthermore, in certain instances, some countries offer a “loss of earnings” bonus; this bonus compensates the candidate when the previous salary of his position prior being elected a Mayor would have been in a higher bracket.

Undoubtedly one cannot shift and adopt the practices of other countries as these vary greatly. However, based on my firsthand experience with Mayors and councilors, I believe that there is an immediate need to kick off a local national debate on this matter. At the very least, locally it would be fair to consider establishing a basic salary of approximately €38,000 (adjusted according to the locality’s size), along with a 20% allowance based on performance, governance, and the implementation of the principles of local democracy by the respective Council.

This also opens the door for a discussion regarding the salaries of members of the Cabinet of Ministers, which, in my opinion, also deserve an upgrade. Nevertheless, one should not hold back the other, and they should progress concurrently and be treated fairly.

This argument does not relate to the “backbenchers,” as the latter could concurrently resume with their profession along with the Parliament’s role.

 

Mario Fava
President

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Incorporating Resident Engagement into Decision-Making Processes

To enhance our democratic institutions, it’s imperative that we create an environment that fosters strength and productivity, particularly at the local level. This is achieved by establishing mechanisms that ensure that within all levels of government work everything is carried out in the best interest of the community. This involves keeping residents well-informed and actively engaging them in decision-making processes.

The term “resident” holds a broader significance than initially perceived. While not everyone in our society is recognized as a citizen, all individuals living within a country, regardless of their citizenship status, are considered residents. Therefore, the term “resident” encompasses and includes everyone.

Residents should be aware of their rights and responsibilities, including the right to participate in decision-making and the obligation to do so. To facilitate this, residents should be well-informed to actively contribute to the formulation of recommended policies. Engaging residents, especially at the local level, ensures accountability for their elected representatives and extends to public services and central government operations.

At the local council level, the term “resident” signifies the connection between the Local Council and its residents. Residents possess both rights and responsibilities, including the right to participate in decision-making and the duty to do so. This combination underpins local democracy, a fundamental pillar of our communities’ well-being and development.

The Local Council plays a pivotal role in this social mechanism. When effectively managed, it directly enhances residents’ quality of life. This synergy indirectly benefits local socio-economic development, creating a two-fold impact across the nation.

When resident participation is lacking, it results in a democratic deficit within society and the community. It not only impacts social aspects but also hampers collective development, potentially leading to challenges in delivering effective public services for local and central governments.

Individuals are the driving force behind this mechanism. While the Local Council is responsible for establishing systems and platforms that provide residents with access and opportunities for participation, residents must also utilize these opportunities wisely, offering suggestions that lead to the acceptance and smooth implementation of decisions.

Civil society also plays a significant role as various issues addressed by civil society directly affect their communities. It is crucial for them to advocate for residents’ views, particularly on matters such as transportation, social housing, subsidies, public spaces, the environment, and more.

Democracy implementation

Implementing such a mechanism is advantageous for democracy as it fosters transparent, inclusive, legitimate, and accountable political landscapes. Since the public plays a central role in decision-making, such mechanism cultivates increased trust in local and central government and the associated institutions.

This heightened resident participation is beneficial when implementing new strategies, policies, or initiatives as residents feel a sense of ownership over the decision-making process.  The inclusivity of ideas from various sections of society leads to more equitable policies and decisions, ensuring no one is excluded and every voice is considered.

When these practices are in place, the implementation of decisions becomes more accessible and allows for constructive feedback and opposition from various individuals or groups in society. This simplifies the transitional phases of implementation.

Structured Consultation Process

When initiating the consultation process, specific practices should be followed to ensure its effectiveness:

  • Clearly define the problem and reasons for change, indicating whether legislation is necessary to enhance the quality of life.
  • Establish a clear vision of the expected results while highlighting the tangible impacts of the decision.
  • Identify key groups that will be involved in the process.
  • Choose an accessible method for consultation, especially in today’s digital age.
  • Ensure that digital methods are equally accessible to all.
  • Maintain ongoing communication, updating stakeholders on the progress and outcomes.
  • Continuously monitor the consultation process, ensuring transparency.
  • Explain the rationale behind the decision-making process, promoting discussion and feedback, which, in turn, facilitates implementation.

All of these elements are vital, and as councillors and local councils, embracing the concept of active democracy is crucial to empower residents and involve them in the decision-making process. It is essential to provide the best platforms for residents to participate effectively.

At the local government level, promoting resident involvement in local politics is imperative. By reestablishing residents’ trust in local politics, residents are more likely to participate thus leading to lasting engagement and empowerment.

I strongly believe that if we don’t conduct this test of awareness, the public will continue to lose interest in Local Government, something that, once lost, may never be regained.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

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Social factors enhancing the quality of waste separation

As the global population continues to grow and urbanization expands, the issue of waste management becomes increasingly pressing. To address this challenge effectively, it is vital to establish waste separation systems, foster circular economies, and promote material recycling to reduce the need for new production. Moving towards a more circular economy requires concerted efforts, collaboration, active public participation, and a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.

In this endeavor, Regional and Local Councils, in partnership with the Central Government, play a pivotal role. Local Councils, being the authorities closest to the residents, should create ongoing platforms for engaging with the public. It is essential not only to convey the significance of individual involvement but also to highlight the environmental impact of responsible waste management. This is an integral part of the civic and social responsibility that each of us holds towards future generations. Furthermore, effective waste separation systems are only meaningful if the government provides efficient infrastructure and diverse waste management options that empower residents to manage their waste effectively.

It is crucial to emphasize that waste generators should have a say in how their waste is disposed of. This responsibility lies with the Councils, as they are tasked with conveying this message to the residents. Providing informative and educational materials is essential, and offering alternative waste disposal options tailored to individual needs is equally critical.

Let’s delve into the proposal put forth by the Local Councils Association, referred to as “collection points.” What are these “collection points”?

A “collection point” is a specifically designated area equipped with colour-coded bins to match the garbage bags commonly used for waste disposal, namely the black, green, and white bags. These bins may also feature compartments for paper and metal disposal. Furthermore, there are cases where distinct “bring-in-sites” are established, a concept I will explain in more detail.

The key distinction lies in the fact that “collection points” are linked to specific streets, and residents living on those streets are granted access to the bins through personalized cards. These bins should be within a reasonable distance, not exceeding 200-300 meters from residents’ homes. Residents on these streets can access the bins at their convenience, without time restrictions. For instance, if the black bin is collected twice a week, residents can access the black bin twice a week, and similarly for the white bin collected thrice a week.

These sites should also be equipped with technology that allows the Council to collect data, including the bin fill levels, residents’ usage patterns, and when bins need to be emptied.

This data is invaluable, as it enables the Council to identify cases where a resident may be exclusively using the black bin, indicating a lack of waste separation. Conversely, when all bins are utilized in proportion to waste generation, it suggests that waste separation is effective. This data also helps Councils identify areas where additional awareness campaigns and enforcement may be necessary. It can also assist residents who, for various reasons, cannot adhere to the designated waste collection times set by the Council, ensuring fair and flexible waste management. In a system and structure like this, it’s difficult to claim unfair treatment when facing penalties for improper waste disposal because there are ample alternatives available, leaving no room for excuses regarding adherence to the prescribed waste collection schedule or timing for each household.

Upon implementation, this approach offers further advantages. By securing agreements with residents, the Council can obtain approval for these specific streets or sections thereof, allowing for a staggered waste collection process rather than simultaneous pickups for all households. Consequently, this strategy mitigates traffic congestion, optimizes the usage of collection trucks on the road, and contributes to reduced emissions, as waste collection becomes notably more efficient. This adjustment should be considered once the system is operational and following consultations with the affected residents.

When this proposal was initially introduced in 2017 and subsequently revised and made more current in 2019, during that period (2017-2019), there were individuals who did not grasp the way this operates, and some were quick to assume that such a system could not be implemented in our country. Today, it appears that there are far fewer individuals unwilling to listen and evaluate.

Consequently, I maintain that it is imperative to grant Local Councils the opportunity to invest in such projects through dedicated financial allocation. This is of utmost importance as endeavors like these alleviate our streets from the disruptive noise of early morning waste collection and provide residents with enhanced mobility options for pedestrians. It is crucial not to underestimate the advantages this offers, as it reduces the inconveniences experienced and the unsightly sight of accumulating waste in neighbourhoods until the entire collection process is concluded.

I cannot claim that such a model is universally applicable, but it is essential to begin investigating potential opportunities where it is viable. A tangible illustration can be found in Gozo, where both locals and weekend visitors from Malta often vacate farmhouses, leaving black bags of waste they wish to dispose of a week later. Envision the possibility of establishing similar waste collection sites in coordination with the owners of these farmhouses or apartments. Locations like San Lawrenz, Gharb, and Ghasri could collaborate to invest in a shared facility, for instance.

Numerous opportunities and solutions exist. Ultimately, it hinges on people’s receptiveness and the financial support needed for the implementation of comparable initiatives by our Regional and Local Councils, which hold the responsibility for waste management.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Children’s Participation at the Local Level

Over the last thirty years, the involvement of children has been widely recognized as a fundamental right. Children’s participation encompasses various dimensions of their engagement, with a strong connection to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which firmly acknowledges this right.

What is ‘Children’s Participation’?

Children’s participation can be best described as the active engagement of children, either individually or in groups, in processes and opportunities where they can express their thoughts and ideas, directly influencing matters that concern them.

This shift of power from adults to children ensures that children are not passive recipients but active participants in decisions affecting their lives. To foster this at the local level, open and respectful dialogue and consultation between children and adults are essential. It is crucial that adults do not underestimate or merely pretend to respect children due to their age; they should also recognize the need for mutual respect. The level of dialogue and consultation should, of course, be tailored to the child’s age.

What is the ‘Local Government’?

Local government refers to an institution established through constitutional legislation or executive authority to carry out specific functions within defined geographic areas. Elected officials within local government work in the best interests of their local communities, with a legal obligation to create the necessary platforms that allow full participation of residents in decision-making. This practice fosters a stronger sense of civic engagement and community belonging.

Why should children participate ?

Children’s participation is pivotal for sustainable development, effective governance, and the cultivation of local democracy. Notably, Sustainable Development Goal 16 underscores the importance of these factors, emphasizing good governance, inclusivity, participation, and representation in decision-making.

From a rights perspective, there is a compelling argument for children’s participation in local governance. While children have a right to participate, it also paves the way for the realization of their other rights. Certain legislations mandate that all governing bodies ensure the involvement and participation of children in implementing and monitoring decisions, whether legislative or otherwise. Articles also underscore the significance of adolescents’ participation in shaping their own rights.

Practically, there are additional reasons for improving interaction between children and adults. At the local level, it is essential to establish well-structured spaces and channels of communication between both parties. These should not be created only when needed like upon an upcoming election,  but should be an ongoing and integral part of daily life.

The importance of having a functioning model of participation is crucial not only for children but also for the adults who lead the local community. The information that can be obtained through participatory processes leads to the development of more sustainable projects, both in terms of financing and implementation.

It doesn’t make sense to invest large sums of money in a project that doesn’t cater to the diverse needs of children. Who better than the children themselves to understand what is required to provide suitable recreational opportunities for them? We shouldn’t merely ensure general participatory representation for children but also guarantee that children with different abilities or needs are included and involved. Not all children have the same needs or abilities. This underscores the critical principle of inclusivity. It’s important to remember that inclusivity cannot be achieved if we are not ready to ensure integration.

How Can We Involve Children?

Children should undoubtedly be engaged in everything that directly affects them or in which they may have an interest in the future.

For instance, discussions on environmental development should include children and their perspectives. In addition, children should be involved in conversations about community well-being, as they are integral members of these communities. Excluding children from discussions related to inclusion, diversity, culture, and integration is counterproductive. Engaging children in these discussions ensures that decisions made and desired for the future are better suited to the coming generations.

The local council’s role in all of this

Local councils play a central role in these efforts. They are obligated to establish the necessary platforms to facilitate meaningful dialogue. This dialogue should not be limited to addressing children’s rights but should also encompass local democracy and a bottom-up approach. As the closest authority to residents, local councils play a significant role as catalysts for children’s participation.

This engagement should not be pursued merely to fulfill a right; there should also be a strong conviction that children’s participation in decision-making and community development enhances the value of all our endeavours.

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Impact of Immigration on the Economy: A Corporate Perspective

The influence of immigration on the economy is often subject to shifting positions influenced by ethical, social, and political considerations, which evolve over time. These stances are shaped by the kind of world we aspire to create and maintain.

For instance, opponents of immigration contend that immigration precipitates rapid cultural and social transformation, while those in favour argue that it can bolster a nation’s economic prosperity, as observed historically in the United States and various European nations.

From an economic perspective, those in favor argue that immigration is beneficial because it increases the workforce, encourages innovation, and provides a larger pool of workers to fill shortages in various industries.

Conversely, opponents of immigration raise concerns about potential adverse effects on local workers, particularly those in lower-wage positions, as foreign workers are sometimes subjected to exploitation, leading to lower wages and potential job displacement.

However, what is the verifiable reality?

At times, it is suspected that opposition to foreign workers in our country, beyond extreme nationalist sentiments and racism, may be driven by other factors. Some individuals view immigrants and assert that they are competing with locals for jobs. They see foreign workers as taking opportunities away from domestic workers.

I often suspect that those who oppose foreign workers in our country, aside from extreme nationalist elements and racism, tend to divert attention from other issues. They scrutinize the foreigners and claim they’re the problem. They observe a dirty environment, work related injuries, wreckless driving and attribute all of this to foreign workers.  However, I cannot help but notice that these are symptoms that don’t really differentiate between whether you’re Maltese or a foreigner, as everyone contributes, everyone tends to leave litter around, observe no safety protocols, and everyone refrains from lack of safety measures. The common thread in all of this is a lack of enforcement, and  when we refer to  foreign workers because they dispose of trash early or have poor workmanship, it’s just an excuse, as there are also Maltese individuals who engage in these behaviors. Often, foreigners may not fully understand the system and might need guidance, but Maltese individuals should not use this excuse because they are expected to know better what they should do. So, using this as an excuse to claim that our country’s economic model doesn’t work because it relies on the population or foreign workers.

It is essential to acknowledge that a substantial portion of foreign workers among us originate from EU member states. Therefore, we must distinguish between European and non-European workers. These workers bring varying skills, creating a demand for different types of labour.

It is undisputable that sectors such as tourism, construction, healthcare, caregiving, financial services, and information technology do not need influx of foreign workers to operate without hindrance. These are just few arguments that are frequently seen on social media, claiming that our country should impose some kind of cap on how many foreign workers can work among us.

It is crucial to recognize that companies employing foreign workers also hire local workers. This goes beyond simply maintaining the status quo. It means that if private enterprises, both local and foreign, encounter challenges in securing the necessary foreign workforce, they may consider compromising the viability of their operations, potentially affecting Maltese workers in the process, to preserve their positions.

Looking from a different angle, immigration inherently leads to a population increase. While this is evident, some fail to grasp its direct economic impact, extending to the daily lives of these foreign workers in our country. They contribute to various aspects of our economy, from housing preferences to purchases of products and services. This not only benefits well-established businesses but also creates opportunities for smaller enterprises to thrive.

When these foreign workers join the workforce, their diverse skill sets lead to an intensified economic impact, which has been previously elaborated. This expansion often gives rise to numerous new businesses, thus fostering job creation.

In the sectors mentioned earlier where labor shortages were noted, one critical field was inadvertently omitted- waste collection. Although it often goes unnoticed, it plays a pivotal role in every nation’s operations. We depend on individuals who, come rain or shine, travel kilometres daily to collect the waste we leave behind. While this may be a job that few consider, it is essential for every country. It ensures that our streets and roads are free of refuse, even though most take this service for granted. If we were to lose these dedicated individuals, we should contemplate who among those critical of foreign workers in our midst would be willing to step into their shoes. We should also consider how many of those claiming that foreign workers are usurping jobs and salaries from Maltese citizens would be willing to undertake this job. This extends beyond economic concerns, as it influences the overall cleanliness of our streets and roads.

We are currently addressing not just the economic aspect but also the social aspect, as I wish to imagine the condition of our public spaces and streets if the generated waste is not properly managed.

When someone proposes or supports a “capping” on legal immigration, it impedes economic development and poses a risk to other employment opportunities. Rather than limiting immigration, it is essential for our country to streamline the bureaucratic and cumbersome framework without compromising security, to facilitate the process for entrepreneurs, investors, and companies requiring skills our nation currently lacks. For instance, a small business owner operating a factory in San Gwann’s industrial area might contemplate closing their doors due to the unavailability of workers. Is this the kind of impact those advocating a different economic plan would want to see? What is that plan?

The success of any nation relies on inspiring its populace to aspire to an improved quality of life. Restricting foreign workers in fields where they are essential hampers this objective. Such limitations only hinder our country’s capacity to respond effectively to challenges in sectors like healthcare and other areas.

Another issue is the declining birth rate in our country, which continually fuels the demand for workers. It also implies that over time, with an aging population, we will become more reliant on social services, such as pensions, with fewer contributors. This underscores that the assertion that foreign workers drain our social funds is unfounded. It is crucial to remember that many of these foreign workers, after residing in our country for several years, are not entitled to a Maltese pension, despite contributing to the social security fund and paying taxes during their stay.

Hence, it is crucial to participate in a well-considered and tactful conversation concerning this intricate matter. It is undoubtedly necessary to ensure that this does not end up into a political issue simply for the purpose of advancing our own political agenda or criticizing the government’s economic policies. The outcome is clear, as recognized by credit rating agencies, the European Monetary Fund, the European Commission itself, and other reputable institutions with expertise in this field.

While there are undoubtedly negative aspects to consider, as previously mentioned, it is evident that when weighing all the factors, there is no doubt that, given the prevailing circumstances, no progressive nation can afford to shut its doors to immigration. We need not look far for a precedent. Just a few years after the Second World War, several European countries, such as Germany and England, faced acute labour shortages, which significantly contributed to their economic growth.

If we look at what happened a few decades ago after the Second World War, we have a vivid example of how the European economy thrived in countries like Germany, England, and others.

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The active participation of residents in the decision-making process

The active participation of residents in the decision-making process that directly or indirectly impacts their quality of life is essential for sustainable development. This necessity holds particular importance and relevance at the local level, where residents live and work, where basic services are provided, and where businesses are established and flourish.

The community members all have a shared commitment to defining goals and working together to discover ways to enhance and simplify services, guarantee a fair distribution of resources, foster social inclusion, improve oversight, and boost transparency in governmental organizations. This includes establishing systems for responsibility and accountability.

Local Councils, being in close proximity to residents, possess a unique advantage over other institutions. They bear the responsibility and obligation to advocate for residents, mobilize civil societies, and, most importantly, act as catalysts for change.

This role becomes especially significant in an era of enhanced public administration efficiency, more inclusive development, stronger relationships with local associations, non-governmental organizations, and other entities, and the pursuit of solutions and aid for pressing challenges faced by local communities. These challenges encompass social exclusion, immigration, poverty, deficient basic infrastructure and access, urbanization complexities, public safety concerns, and issues related to violence, abuse, and law enforcement, not to mention the adverse impacts of climate change.

Good governance is imperative for ensuring sustainable, universally shared development. It also fosters a more effective and inclusive development process. The quality of governance primarily stems from the central government’s political will to create a local-level environment that empowers Local Councils with sufficient autonomy to execute their duties and responsibilities effectively, bolstered by increased professional resources and capacity. Quality governance at the local level also thrives through relationships and communication with other public entities, commercial communities, and residents who often rely on the resources at the disposal of Local Councils.

The expansion of public services at the local level, whether through the extension of existing services or the introduction of additional services by Local Councils, should be accompanied by strengthening local governance structures and greater investments in administrative capabilities and human resources.

Similarly, other local entities with the capacity and capability to promote increased transparency and accountability should also receive support. Furthermore, it’s vital to ensure that Local Councils have the necessary resources and incentives to provide residents with the highest level of accountability, swiftly and transparently.

This is particularly important because, in the principle of subsidiarity, the central government must actively promote the role of Local Councils as governing authorities with a significant and active role in policy development for national progress. These authorities should be able to take local decisions with the utmost transparency and accountability to provide the highest quality services to the community.

This reinforcement leads to ultimately contribute to more significant local development across various areas, including social justice, human rights, equality, active community involvement, increased participation of women, youth, and the elderly in the community.

Their involvement at social and political levels, environmental protection, local urban planning, the introduction and implementation of technology for more efficient management, sustainable mobility management, and the preservation and development of public assets all encourage a strong sense of participation and ownership. All of this should be accomplished with transparency and accountability, in conjunction with public entities, societies, and public associations.

This framework of territorial development, characterized by a bottom-up approach and a long-term process, is an integral part of the national government’s implementation strategy. Guided by Local Councils, this territorial system leads to an enhancement in the quality of life and the well-being of its residents.

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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