RLDAs as catalysts of integrated territorial responses to the Covid-19 crisis

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Series of Preparatory Workshops V World Forum of Local Economic Development Regional and local development agencies as catalysts of integrated territorial responses to the Covid-19 crisis 17 December 2020/ 1:00PM – 3:00PM CET Online Workshop Language: English, Spanish and French

Short summary of the session: A response to the current pandemic crisis must enable a transition to a more just, inclusive, resilient and sustainable societies, combing support to immediate recovery with longer-term, systemic measures centered in territories, that is where the dramatic effects of the crisis are mostly felt and stronger regenerative capacities reside. Local and regional development agencies have a strong potential to act as catalysts of integrated territorial processes, engaging different actors and institutions across governance levels in a structured dialogue for the co-construction of innovative and transformative policies and programs in response to the crisis.

1. Conceptualization of the session The current pandemic crisis is exacerbating the consequences of pre-existing inequalities, showing the drawbacks of a largely unbalanced and unsustainable development model, while revealing new forms of vulnerability. Building forward better in response to the crisis requires deeply innovative and transformative solutions, and not merely adaptive and incremental recovery processes, to enable a transition to more resilient, inclusive, socially and environmentally sustainable societies. The 2030 Agenda constitutes a more than ever relevant framework to channel such transformative transition process, through integrated, systemic approaches that look at the complexity of societies and addresses the interconnections between different actors, dimensions and governance levels. Territories are key to this endeavour. It is in territories that the multiple dimensions of inequality and deprivation materialize, impacting on the quality of life of individual and communities; and it is in territories that the regenerative capacities of people and communities unfold, unlocking the potential embedded in local resources, knowledge and capacities, social relations to find innovative responses to growing uncertainty and demand from the population. The pandemic crisis itself has a strong territorial dimension. Subnational governments – regions and municipalities – are at the frontline of the crisis management and response, and confronted by its largely asymmetric health, economic, social and fiscal impact – within countries but also among regions and local areas. Risks vary greatly depending on where one lives. Regionally differentiated impact calls for a territorial approach to policy responses, combined with a strong inter-governmental coordination.

Many governments at all levels have reacted quickly, applying a place-based approach to policy responses, and implementing national and subnational measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This has included allocating public funding to provide massive fiscal support to protect jobs and companies, households and vulnerable populations, and providing investment recovery packages mostly focused in three areas: strengthening health systems; (ii) digitalisation; (iii) accelerating the transition to a carbon neutral economy. Early takeaways from a review1 of emerging good practices in policy responses show the importance of adopting an integrated and multi-level territorial focus by, among others measures: introducing, activating or reorienting existing multi-level coordination bodies that bring together national and subnational government representatives, to minimise the risk of a fragmented crisis response; supporting cooperation across municipalities and regions to help minimise disjointed responses and competition for resources, as well as cross-border cooperation; integrating a territorial dimension in national investment recovery strategies and involve subnational governments in their implementation early on, and not only municipalities but regions as well. To deal with the complex and multiple effects of the current crisis, within and through an SDG implementation framework, it is crucial to enable the largest possible partnership and connect government levels. Effective territorial processes have a capacity to engage different actors, mediating between respective needs and interests, aggregating resources and competences and leveraging synergies in the formulation, adoption and joint implementation of strategies for socio-economic development. This entails inclusive local governance systems that enable civic participation, the coordinated and collaborative action of a diversity of public institutions and private actors, and effective and accountable planning, implementation and monitoring mechanisms. The challenge of addressing immediate but also longer-term and more systemic development needs is at the core of a transformative response to a crisis. In such contexts, participatory processes involving local communities and citizenship alongside local authorities can serve as a powerful driving force and catalysts for innovative change. This requires in turn structured and institutionalized processes of dialogue; innovative ‘open’ (including digital) platform-solutions for the co-creation and co-implementation of integrated public (response) policies and strategies; specialized operational capacities in support to the role of local and regional governments as promoters and ‘regulators’ of local development processes. An integrated territorial approach to the co-construction of policies and programs would also entail, from a socio-economic response angle, to complement a sectorial jobs and livelihoods restoration perspective with a more systemic support to integrated local economic development systems and strategies. This would allow to address decent work, livelihoods and SMEs support in a more comprehensive and sustainable manner, including normative/institutional aspects and strategic (national and sub-national) frameworks; targeted capacity building to public and private sector institutions; strategic planning; integrated territorial services and innovation systems; support in elaborating and implementing innovative economic pathways at local level such as social and solidarity economy, green economy, circular economy, sharing economy, etc. Regional and Local Economic Development Agencies (RDAs/LEDAs)2 are good examples of the combined institutionalization and operationalization of multi-stakeholders’ partnerships supporting

Reference is mainly drawn from, but not limited to, on OECD study on ‘the territorial impact of COVID 19: managing the crisis across levels of government, updated Nov. 2020. 2 RDAs and LEDAs are defined as “mechanisms through which local actors plan and activate shared initiatives for territorial development, identify the more convenient instruments for their realisation and enhance a coherent system for their technical and financial support…”. OECD, 2012. 1

local and regional governments in the elaboration and coordinated implementation of integrated territorial policies and strategies. As such, they can serve as catalysts of effective and coordinated responses from territories and be at the same time instrumental in channelling institutional, social and technological innovation through/as means for alternative and transformative economic development models and practices. In the current situation, RDAs/LEDAs can play a dynamic intermediation function that can prove particularly critical as optimizing limited resources, creating consensus around challenging and potentially conflictive issues and enabling the meaningful participation of different institutions and social actors are key dimensions for successful response strategies.

2. Objective of the session The first edition of the WFLED, in 2011, was focused on RDAs and LEDAs and allowed to display in different contexts their potential to catalyse effective and inclusive territorial processes for LED, backing the key role of local authorities through combined functionalities and services. This has also applied to post-crisis contexts, as for instance in LAC and the Balkans, where LEDAs have played a key role in mobilising around a common reconstruction purpose different social groups affected by the consequences of wars and natural disasters thus contributing to gradually rebuild a social contract in deeply disrupted communities. A decade later, under exceptional circumstances, we have an opportunity to focus again on RDAs/LEDAs and other different and innovative territorial structures and networks from a different perspective, exploring how they have adapted their function and operations to promote and enable transformative territorial solutions to the multiple challenges of the current crisis.

3. Main points of discussion The session will engage a discussion based on concrete experiences of regional and local development Agencies and their country and regional level networks, including representatives from Europe and the Middle east, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The following main issues will be indicatively addressed and discussed: ▪

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What are the key drivers and challenges of an integrated territorial policy and programmatic response to the pandemic crisis, enabling a transition towards a greener, more sustainable and inclusive socio-economic environment? What is the role played by RDAs/LEDAs in promoting a territorial, place-based response to the different effects and implications of the current crisis? How are they adapting their institutional/organizational configuration and operating modality to leverage the potential of social dialogue in aligning and integrating response capacities across different actors’ mandates and governance levels? How and on what basis are they proving instrumental to catalyze (institutional, social, technological…) change and innovative solutions for and through alternative socioeconomic development paradigms? How are they contributing to restore social cohesion and the socio-economic empowerment of the most vulnerable and hardly hit groups, through broader participation in the co-construction and co-implementation of effective and inclusive response trajectories? To what extent and how are they contributing to promote territorial cohesion and partnership in addressing the effects of the crisis through intermunicipal, interregional and crossborder cooperation and networking?

4. Speakers and moderators Introduction of the WFLED and the 5th edition of the event •

Roberto Di Meglio, Senior Technical Specialist in the Cooperatives Unit of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Daniel Passerini, Vice-mayor of Cordoba City (Argentina).

First round of the debate Moderator: Andrea Agostinucci, Local Economic Advisor of the ART Initiative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Speakers • Roberta dall’Olio, Manager of EU Policies, International Territorial Cooperation and Social Innovation Unit of ART- Emilia Romagna Region (Italy) and President of European Associaton of Development Agencies (Eurada). •

Mirela Koci, Executive Director of AULEDA, the Local Economic Development Agency Vlore (Albania).

Hakkı Gökhan Elüstün, Expert of the Green Growth Policies Unit of the İzmir Development Agency (Turkey).

Martín E. Peña, Executive Director of the Red ADELDOM (Dominica Republic).

Carlos Callejas, Director of the Red ADELCO (Colombia).

Second round of the debate Moderator: Antonio Rodríguez, Mayor of Cazorla, Andalucía (Spain) and Secretary of Sustainable Development of FAMSI. Speakers •

Nahuel Di Paolo, Vice-president of the Cordoba Economic Development Agency ADEC and Vice-president of the Cordoba Technology Cluster (Argentina).

Juan Carlos Expósito, President of the “Gran Vega” of Seville (Spain).

Cristina Hernández Durán, Employment and Local Development Agent of the Mata de Alcántara City Council, Extremadura (Spain).

Roger Suárez, Responsible for International Networks of the Agency for Business Competitiveness of Catalonia (Spain).

Machij Karkri, 1st Vice President of Larache, Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima (Morocco) and President of AD Larache.

Wrap-up and closing remarks: United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)