Catalonia in Quito

In New York, in September 2015, fifteen years after the approval of the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations for all states to enact by 2030. In December, the COP21, after much uncertainty and debate, was a resounding success. And, one by one, every country has ratified the Paris Agreement, including China and the United States, something that just a few years ago would have been a long shot. All the indications are that Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito this October, will be another success on the international agenda.

From our firm standpoint in favour of regional governments, it gives us great satisfaction that the document to be approved clearly recognises local and regional governments, mentioning their role in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and stating that they need sufficient economic resources to undertake this task. It is also a matter of great satisfaction that there is overarching unanimity in relation to the Urban Agenda.

Debate on the New Urban Agenda in Quito comes at a very interesting moment in time. Many of the objectives of the Global Agenda of 2000, in relation to overcoming poverty and improving health and education, have advanced significantly. Not to the extent that we might have wished, but even so, progress has been made. There is, however, one objective that we have not achieved, which was mentioned in every debate at that time: to stop the rural exodus towards our cities. Cities are growing relentlessly in the impoverished outer suburbs, which are a breeding ground for poverty, ignorance and civil insecurity. An event like this one in Quito should enable us to bring policies to the table that put an end to this situation and come up with solutions for the specific circumstances of different parts of the world. 

The social focus of the global Urban Agenda is very much a factor in the overview of Catalonia that we need to adopt in our own Urban Agenda, hence our involvement in this project. We strongly believe in urban regeneration actions as a countrywide project; an ambitious undertaking to transform the metropolises of the future; and a venture that pulls people together and works on their behalf.

The Catalan Urban Agenda is a cross-cutting instrument that aspires to take a holistic approach to transforming the country, and hence come up with solutions to the needs of our cities and the Catalan region of the future.

In all modesty, we in Catalonia believe that our policy in favour of territorial balance can provide a point of reference by offering examples of excellence. The Government of Catalonia has always insisted that people should be able to find a hospital every 40 kilometres. We have universities across the whole region, and this is the result of political determination, because both academic and economic arguments advised greater centralization. Thus, aligned with the political stance of ORU-Fogar, we will be at Habitat III with a discourse that may be very city-oriented but is about cities immersed in the region that shelters them and gives them cohesion and a sustainable environment. This is the cornerstone of Catalonia’s urban and territorial determination.


Josep Rull

Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability


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