The European Community Development Network (formerly Combined European Bureau for Social Development – CEBSD) is a non-governmental European umbrella organisation which brings together a variety of partners from a dozen countries both inside and outside of the European Union. It is registered as a foundation under Dutch law.
In the late 1980s there was a growing recognition of the need to enhance networking and the exchange of ideas and practices within Europe. The pending Single Market Act and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 gave an added impetus for the need to advocate community development approaches across the various subsequent programmes of the European Union and through the development of an agency consortium that could secure EU contracts. 1989 was also the year the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on community development. CEBSD was founded on the 3rd of July 1990 in Swansea, Wales.
The initial idea of CEBSD was to have a trading organisation that would facilitate joint projects and applications in the European context. From the mid-1990s CEBSD began to develop more as a network. Another purpose of CEBSD was to organise more systematic contacts and exchanges between national community work organisations. CEBSD also sought to promote community development at the European level; to create learning opportunities for participating institutes and their staff members as well as assess whether or not it would be possible to obtain funding for common projects.
CEBSD was registered as a non-profit organization in the Netherlands on the 29th of May 1996.
Some Important Milestones:
- After three years of work, EuCDN announced the publication of its Framework for community development, its values, its approaches and its achievements. You can read it here.
- In 2010 CEBSD members were invited to participate in the CEE CN organized Citizens Participation University and Citizens Participation Week.
- During the course of TLCD and the European Dialogue project, close links developed between CEBSD and CEE CN. In fact, a preparatory step was taken when a CEBSD representative was invited to join the CEE CN conference in Tallinn in May 2007. Not long after this CEBSD and CEE CN had a joint meeting in Palermo. The aim of the meeting was to discuss and explore possibilities for a closer partnership between the two networks as a follow up of the European Dialogue seminar in May 2008 held in Kunbábony, Hungary. The leaderships of both networks met again in Sofia, Bulgaria in May 2009 during a dissemination seminar of the TLCD project and in Orebro, Sweden in October 2009 during the CEBSD Future seminar.
- Citizen Participation Week, as developed by CEE CN became another key feature of the common strategy.
- The dissemination of key lessons on Training and Learning was combined with another strategic priority of CEBSD, which was the development of greater citizen participation in civil society. CEBSD joined with Central and Eastern European Citizens Network to work on the European Dialogue project in 2007-2008. This project was initiated and implemented by HACD – the Hungarian Association for Community Development, a member of both networks.
- CEBSD was the lead partner in the project on Training and Learning for Community Development (TLCD) from 2007–2009. This project connected 16 partners in a
consortium. During the project the partners took part in a series of experimental relay visits, where they carried out an analysis of Training and Learning in Community Development from one host country to the next. The involvement of professionals from the Local Authorities, non-governmental organizations and educational organizations enriched the level of exchange and learning from the exercise. At a laboratory in Sweden the Consortium distilled the lessons from relay visits in search of keys to make the process of networking and dissemination relevant to others in the field. The CEGA Foundation hosted the final seminar. Assisted by a Seminar team, they created a working context where peer learning was set in the context of the principles of equality and intercultural exchange. 51 participants from 24 countries and 39 organisations explored methods of interactive dissemination where methods and techniques for training were adjusted to the context and to the participants, whilst maintaining adherence to the highest standards of practice in training and learning. Using the OPERA method, participants set priorities for dissemination and sustainable exchange based around identifying 150 active multipliers.
- In 2007–2008 some CEBSD members worked in partnership on the “People in
Politics” project. The learning partnership ‘People in Politics’ provided learning
exchanges between citizens, local politicians, citizen organizations and trainers, as well as local administrators. The focus was to exchange and improve methods for citizen participation, which leads to changes in community issues.
- Dialogue workshop ”Sustainable Community Development and democratic participation – the Nordic welfare model an export article under pressure” the 23rd – 24th of November, 2006 in Oslo at the Ideas Bank, Akersgata 34, Oslo.
- In March 2004 the Hungarian Association for Community Development and the International Association for Community Development organized a conference entitled, “Building Civil Society in Europe through Community Development” on the importance of community development and on the struggles to strengthen civil society and combat social exclusion. One output of the conference was “The Budapest Declaration”.
- From November 2002 until July 2003, CEBSD ran a European Union funded project on “Good Practice in Community Development and Social Exclusion.”
- From November 1999 until November 2000, CEBSD ran a EU funded project on promoting participation.
The Executive Committee for 2015-16 is:
Stuart Hashagen, SCDC, UK
Oonagh McArdle, Community Workers Cooperative, Ireland
Ruxandra Sasu, PACT, Romania
Lies Beunens, Samenlevingsopbouw Vlaanderen, Belgium
Anders Bro, CESAM, Sweden