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Ciutats del Matí conferència: Alcaldes com a futurs governants?

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20131024_141800La UE intenta donar forma a la seva agenda urbana per a les ciutats i llançar un debat sobre el seu futur, particularment davant la globalització i l’enorme competència que provenen dels centres urbans en ràpid desenvolupament, que atrauen joves, empreses, arts i ciències.

“Cities are too important to be treated as a side issue. They should be central to our thinking,” Commissioner Johannes Hahn told the  Cities of Tomorrow: Invertir a Europa conferència del 17 al 18 de febrer.

Els responsables polítics van conèixer alcaldes de ciutats de la UE, així com experts, inclosos ecologistes i sociòlegs, arquitectes i promotors. Un dels reptes que han d’afrontar moltes ciutats és l’adaptació als estils de vida de la nova era, dominada per la revolució tecnològica en auge i que manté el ritme de la generació electrònica.

“To meet global competition, we have to open up to young generation and a shift form control model into  trust model of managing European cities, as  the cities should be clasters for new ideas of young people, for innovative companies, promoting technologies and creating infrastructures to embrace their  creativity,” said IBM Europe Chairman Harry van Dorenmalen. There was no objection to his futuristic approach, Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz underlined the problems of financing that any professional encounters when attempting to modernize – this, he said, was a real challenge, making the implementation of projects very complicated.

“It is all about implementation – here are many wonderful ideas, but how to finance them?” Fronkiewicz-Waltz added. Mayors’ ambition can also become a problem, if demand too much: should every town have an airport and an aqua park, for example?

“The language of the EU insitutions is unsuitable and paternalistic,” said on critic of the EU approach, Benjamin Barber, a political theorist of urbanism from New York. “I call it Europarochialism, as the whole idea should be not about ‘helping’ cities but rather empowering them, to allow cities to redefine themselves, to work on a global level.”

Cities are ideal platforms for the promotion of democratic ideas, according to Barber, as modern states are still national, while cities are international and multicultural. He put forward the idea of creating a global board of mayors to exchange experiences on a co-ordinated agenda and promote new projects. “Cities should have a say over their own income, as they create enormous wealth and it is unjust to ‘expropriate’ it, leaving the very creators of the wealth out of pocket. One sad example of this social injustice is the new capital of Europe – Brussels,” Barber concluded.

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“If from the outside, Brussels is pictured as the ultimate capital of the EU, when you arrive here you realize quickly that it is the capital of Belgium and the fate of the city is in the hands of the mayors of the five communities forming the city,” Cardiff University PhD researcher Agata Krause told Reporter de la UE.

The first thing that an  outsider sees is the messy transport infrastructure, continued Kruase: “A modern city has to meet more requirements in terms of noise reduction, ecology and recreational areas, but one can’t get there if old-fashioned transport is still there, with trams you can hear from kilometres away! In a modern city, there should be tracks for bicycles everywhere, as we can’t reduce pollution and noise without offering an alternative to public transport.”

Tot i això, el transport públic continua sent un repte: la puntualitat, la interconnectivitat i la qualitat real dels vehicles, tots aquests factors continuen sent problemàtics i dissuadeixen els habitants de deixar els cotxes a casa.

“Parking in town is a real headache: whole areas which could be used for recreation in town are extensively used for parking lots,” Krause added. “But unfortunately it is not just a practical, but also a political issue,  a result of the conflict between liberal politicians representing the interests of shop-keepers and socialists who support the interests of inhabitants.”

The financing of Brussels remains a puzzle: while being home to an ensemble of European institutions, NATO and numerous international companies, the city does not receive a euro cent for its hospitality. If EU citizens are eager to be proud of their capital, they have to change things, as without proper means Brussels has no chance of living up to its high status as the ‘capital of Europe’.

 

Anna van densky

 

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