For ten consecutive years in the autumn, Lublin has been a meeting place of cross-border cooperation practitioners from the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. The Cross-Border Cooperation Congress Lublin 2020 (formerly known as Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress) focused on COVID-19 and the challenges faced by local communities across Europe during the pandemic.
The Congress was held on 6-9 October 2020 and its predominant theme was ‘Local Government of Tomorrow. Between openness and responsibility’.
Due to the current situation, the event was held in virtual space only, with simultaneous translation into Polish, English, and Russian.
The four days of the Cross-Border Cooperation Congress were filled with expert panel discussions and workshops with the participation of eminent European experts such as Charles Landry (Great Britain), Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning (Denmark), Marharyta Zhenchuk (Ukraine), Prof. Aleksander Sogomonov (Russia), Krzysztof Czyżewski (Poland).
The opening debate was attended by European mayors and city officials and focused on local government’s priorities in the new, post-pandemic reality. In the next days, we paid attention to cultural sector and cultural tourism under new conditions and discussed how to build a city branding through tourism. Then, we switched to the possibilities of sustainable economic development, the limitations of traditionally understood growth, as well as structural changes in a labour market. We looked at the new ‘wave’ of innovation, companies and sectors that have done well in these difficult circumstances. We also analysed social self-organization in the pandemic times, taking into account the situation of migrant communities.
As in previous years, the Congress was accompanied by Partners' Forum in order to facilitate more effective communication and exchange of experiences between organisations seeking international partners. City councillors were invited to a special on-line meeting, devoted to the functioning of local government during the pandemic, and cooperation prospects with partner cities in the future. Grants’ Fair, on the other hand, showcased the opportunities to obtain funds from the selected grant programmes. We also organised Best Practice Contest to promote the initiatives which worked best in local communities amid the pandemic.
The Cross-Border Cooperation Congress Lublin 2020 received a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland under the programe ‘Public Diplomacy 2020 – New Dimension.’ It was held under the honorary patronage of the European Commission Representation Office in Poland. We are also glad that many new partners joined us last year, i.e.: the Association of Ukrainian Cities, the Belarusian organization ‘Twin Towns’ and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. All Congress events were free of charge, after online registration.
The cultural events, which accompanied the event, were livestreamed on the Congress partners websites.
For 10 years now, Lublin has been an annual meeting place for cross-border cooperation practitioners from Poland and Europe. When, at the beginning of this year, we started to prepare for the next edition of Cross-Border Cooperation Congress and think about its formula, nobody at that time had imagined that our lives would change so drastically. Just within few weeks we found ourselves in a completely new reality, unknown until now. Covid-19 pandemic has not only fundamentally changed the way we live, work and spend free time but it has also revealed, and sometimes accelerated, numerous processes and changes in the socio-economic situation around us.
Faced with the new circumstances, we have decided not to give up discussing what challenges we will have to face in a world that is changing so dynamically. And this is precisely why we will meet again this year.
I invite you to participate in the Cross-Border Cooperation Congress Lublin 2020. The new and unique edition of this year's event will be held entirely online. The main theme of the Congress is the Local Government of Tomorrow. Between openness and responsibility. During online meetings, panels and workshops we will discuss the most important challenges posed by the current situation to local communities across Europe. We will consider how to maintain the path of development with shrinking resources and a changing climate, how to take into account new conditions for key sectors of city development: business, tourism and culture. We will look at how the changing reality is affecting the social life of both our local communities and our cross-border relationships.
I hope that participation in this unique edition of the Congress will bring you a lot of inspiration and positive impressions. The experience gained and the contacts established will certainly contribute to the strengthening of relations in building and shaping European cooperation both in virtual space and in undertaking joint initiatives and international projects.
Krzysztof Żuk, Ph.D.
Mayor of Lublin
We stand together at a threshold of transformation. COVID-19 pandemic has thoroughly accelerated and gave those changes new dynamics. Today, we might describe present situation in four words: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This is how we feel – this is the reality we have to live in. We wonder what will happen to the economy (how to build it without the necessity of constant growth and without the exploitation of manpower?). How to live in symbiosis with the environment during the climate crisis? How to build inter-human relations in the spirit of solidarity, sensitivity, especially when we want to be together but have to self-isolate? What systems (legal, tax) need to be introduced to stop inequalities? What about work? What about new technologies? What about artificial intelligence? How have local governments coped with the new challenges? What about social solidarity – what kind of citizens have we turned out to be in the face of difficult challenges?
We face such dilemmas. We want to talk about them here in Lublin. As we have done so, for the past 10 years among practitioners of cross-border cooperation. But this year will be a bit different. There will be no personal get-togethers, no shaking hands, no evening walks in the Old Town. But there will be no shortage of fantastic intellectual journeys. This has always been a showcase of Cross-border Cooperation Congress.
Organisation and Programming Committee Chairman, CBCC