Géraud

Géraud de Ville

The Open University, Department of Engineering and Innovation
Brussels, Belgium

COBRA Conference on Community Owned Solutions held at EU in Brussels

Focus was on implications of policies for communities and relevance of community owned solutions for policy making

February 25, 2015

More than sixty participants from seventeen countries took part in the final conference in Project COBRA in Brussels on 21-22 January 2015. The main event, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) included presentations from the EESC, the European Commission, embassies and a wide range of research institutes and Civil Society Organisations from Europe and from the Guiana Shield Region.

Photo: Claudia Nuzzo – Creative Commons

Conference Highlights

The ambition of the final COBRA conference was to inform and inspire individuals from key agencies and CSOs who are involved in setting the EU policy agenda, with findings and results from Project COBRA.

Links between policy and practice – and their interactions with communities – were core elements of the day. The sessions in the morning concentrated on policy and theory. In the first part of the afternoon the focus was on practice with the presentation of the COBRA handbook:  ‘How to Find and Share Community Owned Solutions’.

EU development cooperation in the South includes support to the implementation of global environmental agreements and policies. This dimension was the major focus of the policy-oriented elements of the day, with Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as an example which is of particular relevance for rural and indigenous communities.

EU development cooperation in the South includes support to the implementation of global environmental agreements and policies. This dimension was the major focus of the policy-oriented elements of the day, with Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as an example which is of particular relevance for rural and indigenous communities.

Photo: Claudia Nuzzo – Creative Commons

Guiana Shield Action Night

On the eve of the conference, an interactive event was organised including the showing of the Project COBRA film and other videos; a photo / poster exhibition; chat corners on indigenous livelihoods and culture, community owned solutions; future scenarios and policy ideas; and the Project COBRA Handbook and other publications.

Training Workshop

The conference was followed on 23 January by a Workshop on the Community Owned Solutions including training based on the Project COBRA Handbook: ‘How to Find and Share Community Owned Solutions’ The handbook has been developed for practitioners to assist communities to explore, record and share their own solutions to challenges that affect them. The training included a general presentation of the handbook’s methodology and theoretical concepts followed by practical exercises to explore these concepts.

Photo: Claudia Nuzzo – Creative Commons

Participants made use of some of the techniques underpinning the approach and became familiar with the activities that have been used to identify community owned solutions and select best practices to respond to current and future challenges that face them. Although developed in the Guiana Shield this handbook is designed to be as flexible as possible so it can be adapted to work with a range of communities in different cultural contexts.

Follow up

The Brussels events were the major final activities in the project which lasted for three years and four months. But the work does not end here. Participants expressed keen interest in keeping in contact with each other and the project partners are exploring ways to continue their cooperation – together with other interested parties – in the future.

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