A conference entitled "A Look at 'Modelo Mais' Urban Strategy of Pontevedra" was held on the 7th of May in Pontevedra (Spain). The city of Pontevedra is a member of Eixo Atlantico – Atlantic Axis of Peninsular Northwest, the Lead Partner in EURE Project. The event aimed to highlight the results achieved by the Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development Strategy (EDUSI) that this city has been developing for more than 10 years and to analyse how to adapt the model to the current requirements in order to continue improving the quality of urban life for its citizens.
As a medium sized city, Pontevedra demonstrates that innovations are not to be associated only with the biggest ones. Its Urban Strategy has been awarded and recognized at several occasions. Nowadays the city’s team of experts work on improving of the Strategy, being funded through the Article 7 Funds of the Spanish ERDF.
At the moment, Pontevedra counts on meeting 81% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators and proposes implementation of measures aimed towards increasing public space and reducing spaces for traffic. Therefore, three principles of the Strategy were underlined:
* Integration of the extension of the city, connection with the diffuse city and right to the city;
* Commitment to the natural heritage and active fight against climate change, especially through projects such as a green ring for the city or the restoration of the Gafos river;
* Continuation of work on urban space as a guarantee of social cohesion and access to the city for all people.
The conference, which included interventions of the UN-Habitat representative for Spain and a representative of the Ministry for the Urban Agenda, also served as an open debate on the main issues that should be addressed by urban strategies in the future.
The UN-Habitat representative for Spain stated projection that by 2050 the size of cities will double, especially in the countries of the global south. Cities continue to have a great attractiveness as centres of economic opportunities but they may also foster conflicts (they constitute 80% of the GDP, but also 70% of energy consumption and 70% of greenhouse gases emissions). This requires reorienting the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, administered and managed, seeking environmental, social and economic sustainability. It is important to interact at three levels: urban economics, urban legislation and planning and design (for which local implementation is a key).
Significant documents such as the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda (NAU), the Paris Agreement or the Shanghai Declaration on Health Promotion were elaborated with aim to stress the need to move from urbanisation as a problem to urbanisation as an opportunity i.e. to urban development as an opportunity to achieve global sustainability. There is no way to meet the SDGs without implementing the NAU.
The same underlying message could be drawn from all interventions: Urban policies will be at the heart of the next programming period 2021-2027. As this is a cross-cutting issue with different fields of action, it may be approached from different perspectives and financial instruments. Therefore it is crucial to have tools that provide a global vision, a framework on which to base the different projects and actions, so that they all move towards the same goal:
cities in which economy, sustainability, planning/design and cohesion are integrated to improve citizens' quality of life.