“Emerging as a response to current issues, innovation transforms societies, pre-empts future challenges, and shapes the world of tomorrow. When it is community-led and committed to positive social and environmental change, innovation is the key to pressing forward towards smart, inclusive and resilient societies” Enrique Nieto, Head of Policy, AEIDL
We live in a world of multiple overlapping crises and rapid changes that present challenges or opportunities which affect us as individuals, groups, organisations and society as a whole. The current challenges that have a considerable impact on the social order raise long-term questions and concerns: how to face the challenges of an ageing population and demographic deficit? How can we manage to coexist peacefully in a society weakened by inequalities, divisive political discourses, discrimination and intolerance? How to ensure a dignified life for all in the face of migration challenges caused by climate change and conflicts?
One concept resonates: resilience. It is the capacity of our societies, communities and territories to overcome crises. This often involves a change of perspective, the development of new tools and experiments to re-imagine our future.
This is why we need to innovate: to find new solutions to these new societal challenges. Although innovation concerns all scales, it is at local level that it can best respond to the challenges facing people and their communities. The various local urban and rural ecosystems are mobilising in their territories, setting up alternative actions and strengthening mutual aid networks.
At AEIDL we understand local innovation as any new and creative process, service or product that emerges in a local territory as a result of engaging with local communities and actors in order to seize new opportunities or address local challenges.
If innovative initiatives led and implemented by communities are essential to stimulate changes that offer opportunities to foster socio-economic and environmental well-being, they often remain locked in the territory and struggle to be disseminated beyond the local context. Yet, locally produced knowledge benefits from being studied and then shared and transferred to other communities or even implemented on a larger scale in local, regional or national policies. Bringing together like-minded people and community-oriented organisations will help to improve local life and ultimately create a more cohesive Europe.
This is why AEIDL is launching the European Local Innovation Forum (ELIF) to provide a space for experts and organisations operating in both urban and rural settings to exchange good practice and learn from each other in order to stimulate innovation in local communities across Europe.
We particularly invite stakeholders working at intermediate territorial levels such as provinces, regions and the national level who are strongly involved in the implementation of innovative local actions as well as European level organisations to express their interest in becoming a member of the forum here.