Brussels, 5 December 2005
A Citizens&ndash Declaration on the City of Tomorrow will be presented today in the European Parliament. The promotion of more walking, cycling and public transport; better preservation of our cultural heritage; sound use of land; better governance &ndash“ these are issues that concern European citizens when asked about the future of our cities. The Declaration has been drawn up by a panel of 26 people from across the EU who were asked to discuss the outcomes of a number of research projects looking at sustainable urban development. This Citizens&ndash Conference is funded by the EU &ndashRAISE&ndash research project and gives citizens a chance to put their concerns directly to policy-makers.
&ndashResponsible decisions take into account the views of those affected by them. Initiatives such as this Declaration are invaluable in giving a voice to those who live and work in our cities&ndash, said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik.
The Declaration says &ndashWe represent 10% of the richest people in the world and we are the least sustainable so far. Now is the right time to take action. There is a pressing need to change our every day mobility habits, we have to impose restrictions on individual car use and make the sound use of land as the prime objective of urban planning.&ndash
All participants in the panel that drew up the declaration argued that mobility was central to their daily lives, but at the same time it was considered as a major source of their daily problems. They all agreed that we have to aim at shorter daily distances by improving not just our infrastructures and the compatibility of transport systems, but by changing our transport habits. Walking, cycling and public transport need to be promoted as alternatives. Cultural heritage and its preservation were also of key importance to the panel. They explained that &ndashcultural heritage is today&ndashs fragile footprint of the past. What&ndashs lost can&ndasht be replaced. We have to make our cultural past part of our present&ndash. Citizens were also adamant on the fact that &ndashpoor governance delivers poor outcomes&ndash. The local level is a good point of departure for consulting citizens on their everyday needs and delivering policies for our cities. The participants stressed that &ndashour voice has value, just like all citizens, and it needs to be heard&ndash. The Declaration also addresses the sound use of land and attaches importance to policies promoting the renovation of old buildings together with a series of fiscal and tax benefits, which must be implemented to improve the quality of life in inner cities.
The idea for and realisation of this Citizens&ndash Declaration comes from a European-funded research project, RAISE, with partners from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Romania and Poland and financed under the Environment research programme. The project&ndashs aim is to make better use and raise awareness of the results of other EU research projects on urban sustainability. 26 people from the 25 EU Member States and Romania participated in a series of workshops to discuss these research findings and compare them to their own experiences, resulting in today&ndashs Declaration.