The Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet, opened the second Urban Assembly of Catalonia today and fired the starting gun for the drafting the Urban Agenda of Catalonia.
The Assembly is composed of administrative bodies and representatives of citizens’ organisations and the economic fabric.
It is the body responsible for drafting and validating the Urban Agenda for Catalonia before its approval by the Catalan government. The Agenda, an initiative of the Secretary for the Urban Agenda and Territory, will serve as a guide for sustainable development of cities over the coming decades and for overcoming endemic problems caused by the urban explosion of the last century. The New Urban Agenda, adopted by the United Nations in 2016, recognised that the world is undergoing an irreversible process of urbanisation, with economic activity, interactions between society and culture, and environmental and humanitarian impacts increasingly concentrated in cities.
The Urban Agenda for Catalonia will also serve as a tool for accelerating deployment of the 2030 Agenda in Catalan cities and redefining what urban areas should be and approaches to urban planning. The framework document will lead to actions with tangible impacts that improve the quality of life of citizens.
Minister Calvet said: “Democratic urbanism has already put people at the centre of urban policy. It’s been a tool for improving people’s quality of life as well as their surroundings.” However, according to the minister: “We have to make a leap in scale because we can’t continue to operate according to the same parameters.” Calvet said the environment has gradually come to be treated as a more important factor, with the progressive incorporation of considerations related to landscape, climate and the planetary impacts of what happens in Catalonia.
“All these factors play a role in determining what our relationship with the territory should be,” said the minister. “They must be understood holistically. When we talk about the Urban Agenda, we’re talking about the rural agenda, urban habitats and the territory.”
To tackle challenges in these areas, the Urban Agenda for Catalonia requires the commitment and participation of all actors who have an impact on the territory. To ensure its success, the Catalan government decided to develop the road map based on a broad consensus, and that the document should set out strategic conclusions and be binding on all administrations. “With the Urban Agenda, we’ll have spatial and urban planning tools that will allow us to build a better country,” Calvet concluded.
As a first step in exploring the challenges and objectives the Urban Agenda needs to address, a participatory process was carried out in June and July of 2019. Based on contributions made during this process, the Agenda will be structured around six key pillars and 12 objectives:
- Air quality: Define air protection zones in all exposed areas and reduce pollutant emissions.
- Sustainable energy: Review urban planning guidelines to facilitate implementation of new energy models.
- Social inclusion: Seek new housing alternatives to support social policy.
- Equity and creation of opportunities: Link shortages of housing and work and create more job opportunities.
- Urban paradigm: Reduce use of new land, increased densities and promote mixed use.
- Right to housing: Increase the stock of affordable rental housing and promote a national agreement to ensure access to housing.
- Circular economy: Promote eco-design, eco-renovation and the use of waste as a resource.
- Innovative production models: Promote knowledge clusters and foster relations between citizens, the administration, business and research centres.
- Green infrastructure: Naturalise urban habitats and maintain biodiversity.
- Climate emergency: Apply adaptation and mitigation measures in new infrastructure and minimise the heat island effect in cities.
- Democratic quality: Improve participatory processes and involve groups that tend to be left out.
- Efficient governments: Define the areas of competence of institutions more clearly and avoid privatisation of basic services for citizens.