European Neighbours Day spans 36 countries, with over 20 million people taking part in the celebrations. All across Europe communities and groups will be celebrating European Neighbours Day, the aim of which is to bring neighbours and local people together and encourage community links and empowerment. In modern life of mobility it is often that we do not know who lives next to us. All over the world, individualism and loneliness are on the rise. European Neighbours Day is encouraging everybody to know your neighbours better. Any local activity and effort is easier to achieve if you have a reliable team living next to you. Therefore, on this day Each resident is invited to make a simple gesture at the same time throughout Europe and now the world. An invitation to your neighbours to share a nice time around some common activity enhances social cohesion and creates new connections.

The idea of Neighbours’ Day was born in 1990, when Atanase Périfan and a group of friends created the association “Paris d’Amis” (“challenges for friends”) in the 17th district of Paris to enforce the links of proximity and to mobilise people in order to act against isolation. A number of “Paris d’Amis” programs were launched and successfully achieved, including sponsorships for neighbours in difficult situation, family-style Christmases for those with no family, carpooling for people with little mobility, job searches for people without work, etc. In 1999, a new challenge was launched! Atanase Périfan and the “Paris d’Amis” association launched the first event in Paris’ 17th district. It was an instant success: 800 apartment buildings participated, mobilising more than 10,000 residents. In 2012, over 14 million people in about 1 400 towns hosted gatherings all over Europe and even further. Neighbours’ Day has become a major event in more than 34 countries. The organizers of the event say “the continuously growing number of participants is the proof that the concept of ‘better living together’ has no frontier”.

Why is Neighbours’ Day important for sustainable development? Sustainable development is many ways is focused on local development and decentralization. Therefore, any local activities and initiatives are really important for local decision-making which is usually a true reflection of community’s needs. Additionally, from some perspectives enabling communities to lead local projects with a neighbourhood-scale approach is the most cost-effective way to ensure that villages, towns and cities are fit for the future and create the conditions for people to prosper. Empowering community groups to come together to tackle issues of local priority, and to work in partnership with local authorities and businesses, multiple benefits is very essential both in developed and developing countries. United efforts can tackle climate change, deliver reliable and efficient transport networks, improve health and well being, secure a healthy natural environment, improve long-term housing supply, maximise employment opportunities, and make our communities safer and more cohesive. In order to achieve all of this, people in the communities should be able to communicate with each other effectively or simply be good neighbours.

Learn more about Neighbours’ Day in your country:

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