Photo credits: Viola D’Ettore
Among the contemporary challenges, the ability of cities and territories to transform themselves into inclusive, participatory, and resilient contexts that are able not only to adapt to changes, but also to cope with them through good planning in the use of resources and the direct involvement of citizens, is becoming increasingly important.
There is a direct proportional relationship between living conditions in human settlements and citizen participation in the construction of public policies. Participation fosters more effective decisions, more adequate services, and the greater protection of rights- just as the standards of living, safety and inclusiveness of settlements determines an environment conducive to the quality of democracy and to community leadership.
However, the civic involvement and the leading role of the community in the processes of knowledge and change of reality require, as a necessary condition, the strengthening of civic activism, in numbers, territorial spread, acquisition of skills, and the development of the ability of citizens to organise themselves to carry out activities of general interest.
The CommunityPRO Project
With the aim of strengthening civic activism in Italy and supporting local communities to develop their ability to be resilient to growing natural and man-made disasters, Cittadinanzattiva launched the CommunityPRO (Participation Resilience Organizing) project (2021-2023). The project was realised with funding granted by the Italian Ministry of Labor and Social Policies (through the fund financing projects and activities of general interest promoted by non-profit organisations), CommunityPRO is dedicated to activating participation processes in all Italian regions with the aim of supporting a path of empowerment of activists and citizens that will lead them to work from next autumn on the development of 20 Community Resilience Plans (one per region).
The participatory elaboration of Community Resilience Plans will actively involve citizens and make them informed, sensitised and aware of the methods of interaction and procedures to be activated in case of emergency, identifying with them the elements to strengthen the links between the different community actors to facilitate emergency management operations, increase the ability of communities to adapt before, during and after the disaster, and ultimately make communities more supportive, resilient, and safe.
Application of ENGAGE’s Experience
CommunityPRO represents the first civic application of the experience developed by Cittadinanzattiva in the ENGAGE project. With this project Cittadinanzattiva tries to process approaches, tools, and information produced by ENGAGE, translating them into a participatory process for communities, to empower and give them the opportunity to act consciously to reduce risk situations and improve protection measures and prevention.
Last February, ENGAGE gave its first contribution to CommunityPRO, participating in the e-learning training of the 100 Civic Activators (new figures trained by the project to “activate” civic participation in the territories) with the video by Martina Ragosta of SINTEF (project coordinator). ENGAGE shared its knowledge and the results achieved so far, transferring the most relevant concepts to activists to make them able to consciously promote resilience in their communities.
Authors: Maya Battisti, Adriano Paolella & Raniero Maggini (Cittadinanzattiva)