In a long period of big consecutive crises, which affect the island of Lesvos, Greece (i.e. economic crisis, migration flows, health/COVID-19 and an emerging new economic one) developing resilient mechanisms, which will allow its citizens to bounce forward, is more demanding than ever. LESVOS2030 is a platform which gives Civil Society the space to co-create along with experts and institutions the vision, the strategies and the policies for a sustainable and resilient island for the next decade.
The project will take place in the south borders between Asia and Europe on Lesvos Island, Greece.
Lesvos is a part of the North Aegean Region - the least competitive region in the EU, an island widely affected by the general Greek economic crisis (~16% unemployment) that battles with the migration crisis fatigue since 2015 (~20k asylum seekers on the island at the moment). These crises resulted in the rise of populism and divisive discourse, threatening social cohesion that accelerated brain drain. Under the new global circumstances, emerging challenges will add up to the existing harsh environment making the future of its citizens look even darker.
It is important to restore and embrace democratic and inclusive dialogue among the citizens and to provide them the space to develop sustainable and resilient mechanisms in order to reverse brain drain to brain gain.
Unfortunately the majority of the citizens’ participation is limited to voting on elections - mostly with low voter turnouts. Our goal is to lift up the Civil Society’s (CS) role in processes and deliberations by providing the necessary “literacy” about the role and the powers of all levels of governance (from local community to European level) and providing a digital platform for the CS to actually be part of the solutions. CS will actively participate in workshops and advocacy processes (open working meetings, debates, online deliberations) and will collaborate with experts and institutional organizations (IO) to create a common vision and a strategy, which will be handed to the IOs for consideration and implementation, switching the role of the CS from initiator to monitor evaluator.
Participation in our project is open -with no exclusions- to any member of the local community who is interested to be a part of this process. We focus on young people and on people that believe that their voice is not heard (i.e. people living in small villages), or misrepresented. In addition to individuals participation, we will design more targeted calls, for representatives of professional associations or groups of people (i.e. Tourism and cultural associations, teams of volunteers/activists, social enterprises etc), and we will also launch an online discussion platform. Lastly, we will hold open events in several locations on the island, in order to reach as many citizens as possible and achieve the highest possible level of representation to the project’s activities.
Individuals and representatives from both the CS and IO will participate in open but structured dialogues and working thematic meetings in different places around the island on the areas of Economy, Culture, Tourism, Environment, Quality of Life, Youth Empowerment, Collaboration, Social Cohesion and Governance. We will use several methods like an “adaptation” of Toolbox for Citizens -we had the chance to work on in Greece- and other open discussion formats used on similar projects. The outcomes of these meetings will be published on an online platform for additional deliberation by the community. All inputs will be weaved by experts who will structure a proposed strategy and will help us build a mechanism, which will ensure that the dialogue continues after the end of this project.
The expected results of our project are: a) high rates of participation to the activities, b) the co-creation of a common vision c) proposed implementation policies/strategies as outcomes of these activities and d) a framework for continuous discussions between the institutional organizations and the civil society. Our ambitious goal is to forward the proposed policies and advocate their implementation to the local government boards and/or raise the awareness of the local communities to be aware of the local government’s role and the local government to be aware of the community’s needs and vision. Hopefully, a year from now the institutional organizations will approve the adaptation of one or more of the proposed policies and the dialogue between IO and CS will continue to flourish.
Participants will be introduced to all levels (local, national, european) of IOs and will develop a better understanding of their role by working alongside them. This process will help citizens comprehend the bigger picture of governance and policy-making, craft a new narrative on how politics work and establish a trustworthy relationship that will extend their civic role beyond voting, to active evaluators of democracy. Another attribute will be the introduction of the participants to digital deliberation tools for the first time, leading them to embrace a more positive approach to digital democracy and value its potential. Furthermore we believe that this project could also be adopted by other communities and scale up to a European level.
A few years ago, in the midst of the economic crisis, we took a conscious decision to return to our island after our studies and live here. Our return concurred with multiple other challenges, and the easy option for us was to leave again. But we decided to stay and find ways to contribute to dealing with the issues: to make good use of the comparative advantages of Lesvos, look for and apply solutions to the problems. Nevertheless, we don’t want to transform our community according to our tastes, neither to impose that need for change to others, but to include all members of our community to this process: to build all together a better future for our “home” and transform it to a resilient place to live not only for us but also for other people who may have taken similar decision like us.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 20000 EUR
Experts costs: 20000 EUR
Online platform development, maintenance, content management: 3000 EUR*
Meetings production costs: 3500 EUR
PR / Communication activities/services/material costs: 3000 EUR
Travel/Accommodation costs for personnel: 1500 EUR
Suggestions of practices about how to engage local officials to new and innovative structures, how to set same goals considering possible conflict between different agendas and inspiration for community development formats from locations with similar challenges like Lesvos.