The refugee debate is a topic all over Europe and also within the Innovation Circle Network. Already at the last annual conference in October in Berlin ICN members made up there mind to focus on this issue and to plan an international conference on migration. To make this plan more concrete the ICN board met in Riga for a two day session at the end of January. After an intense brainstorm meeting all partners involved agreed that such a conference is very needed. Apparently some countries are very experienced with refugee relief and integration while others just started to think about it. An exchange is needed and very much wanted. A task force will now take a closer look at the topic and come up with a high quality programm that offers ICN partners and interested participants the possibility to get the most out of it. The confernce is planned as part of the annual ICN conference in autumn and will focus on the aim of turning immigration challenges into chances. The conference will present best practises in the field of integration and welcome initiatives on a local level. Interested partners are welcome to contribute and share their thoughts and ideas.
The meeting in Riga brought also the Young Eyes leader team together for their third transnational meeting within the Erasmus+ project. The partners from Robertsfors (Sweden), Suwalki (Poland), Rauna and Jelgava (Latvia) met with professor Cliff Hague from Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) and other experts from Innovation Circle Network. The meeting was chaired by project manager Alf S. Johansen. The Young Eyes project funded by Erasmus+ is now half way through the action plan. There have been implemented two so called mirror workshops during 2015, one in Rauna and one in Suwalki. More than 50 youths are in total involved in the project actions. Some of them also have met at the transnational workshops. During the first half of 2016 two more mirror workshops are planned. The first will already take place in Jelgava in the midlle of March. The second and final one in Robertsfors in May/June.
The project leader team which is training youths to become involved in shaping the future of their hometowns is so far very staisfied with the temporary results. The first half part has been focusing governance and town identity. The remaining part will focus on place branding and attractiveness and finally deliver a short list of proposals for improvements. The short list from young Eyes willl be delivered to the local councils for further decision making.
The project itself will be closed at a transnational meeting which will take place in Norway in August. All youths involved will be provided with Europass which will strentgten their CV's.
Last but not least a delegation from Aluksne municipality the highest elevated Latvian city made their way to Riga to get to know ICN and to introduce themselves. Aluksne is located at the boarder to Estonia and Russia and consists of 15 parishes. The municipality is interested in projects dealing with saving cultural history, energy efficiency and green economy. Possible future cooperations had been discussed.