The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities sponsored Lab 4 “Sustainable cities: when the problem becomes part of the solution”, organized on 9 November 2021 at the Palais de l’Europe, within the framework of the World Forum for Democracy. How to build more sustainable urbanization and guarantee social justice for all city dwellers? This is the question asked by the participants of the Lab. In the face of climate change, they discussed the threats it poses to populations in urban areas who also face other risks such as poverty, inequalities and social fragmentation.
“In the Congress, we have made ‘sustainable societies’ one of our main priorities for 2021-2026 and we are convinced that the local and regional levels are essential to meet the challenges posed by climate change”, said Vladimir Prebilic (Slovenia, SOC / G / PD), Congress spokesperson on climate change and the environment and moderator of Lab 4. He recalled that more than two thirds of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 require the commitment of cities and regions; in addition, three quarters of the European population are urban and 75% of energy is consumed in cities, which puts local elected representatives on the front line.
Lab 4 participants heard presentations from several initiatives from different countries: “Urban arenas for sustainable and equitable cities”, in Germany, “Democratic climate model, Innovation for climate action at local level”, in Belgium, “ Sustainable cities program: Strengthening democracy through the municipalization of the SDGs “, in Brazil, and” Urban agriculture as a new asset after Covid “, in France.
Among the speakers were also Congressman Jean-Pierre Liouville (SOC / G / PD, France) and Congress youth delegate Adel RAMDANI (Belgium). Mr. Liouville underlined “the importance of the participation of young people in the design of local climate action plans and the establishment of sustainable democratic structures so that young people can express themselves and that political decision-makers can take into account their opinions ”. are made of their ambition. We dare to invent and shape the future. We are not asking for permission, we are building for our future and that of future generations, ”said Adel Ramdani in the discussion.
On the same day, Mr. Prebilic participated in the Forum Talk on Deliberative Climate Democracy. “Deliberative methods – citizen assemblies, referendums or other forms of direct participation – are not intended to replace representative democracy at local and regional levels, but rather to serve as a complementary mechanism to directly involve and inform citizens in order to alleviate tensions. which often revolve around issues of importance to the daily life of citizens ”, he explained, citing the example of the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, thanks to the cooperation of the Congress with municipal authorities and citizens. Deliberative democracy also contributes to the implementation of SDG 16 of the 2030 Agenda on peace, justice and strong institutions by ensuring “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”, he concluded. The Congress is currently preparing a report on “Deliberative Democracy at Local and Regional Levels” which will be debated for adoption at the March 2022 session.
In addition, young Congress delegates Adel Ramdani, Susanna Veevo (Estonia) and Viviane Ogou Corbi (Spain) addressed Forum Talk 4 on youth environmental activism. “The next step is to ensure that climate activism has a place at the decision-making table. Policy coherence between activists, institutions and governments is crucial to advance the change we want to see,” stressed Susanna Veevo. “Empowering a global and prosperous civil society in the countries of the South by guaranteeing their participation in international forums and their visibility will not only contribute to the fight against climate change but also to ensure the transition to democracy”, declared Viviane Ogou Corbi in her contribution.