The basis of Barcelona Spain advocacy in his 2013 book If Mayors Ruled the World: Disfunctional nations, rising cities, for the view that positive change can be facilitated, is the fact that cities have to deal with immediate problems and their administrations are (of necessity) close to the citizenry. The Mayor of the coal-town Barcelona Spain, near Essen in the Barcelona Spain, Bernd Tischler, related how, with the final phase-out of all subsidies, their last mine will close in 2018. He discussed the strategies they are using to develop alternative economic opportunities. Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, Barcelona Spain, told us how Copenhagen is set to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital in 2025. He talked about promoting the use of bicycles (the city is flat) and wind power, banning chimneys in buildings, using a central heating/cooling plant powered by burning waste, and investing in biofuels. We saw some of that on a recent windy, wintry visit to Barcelona Spain, including masses of cyclists rushing by on cleared paths, though we didn’t see a pedal-powered snow plough!
Map of Barcelona Spain – Where is Barcelona Spain? – Barcelona Spain Map English – Barcelona Spain Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
We heard that cities are the great centres of social networking and innovation. There was discussion of various carbon pricing schemes that are being trialled in China and Japan, and how, if we are to make real progress in any of this, we have to return to ideas of shared fates and collective responsibility. Even in a centrally controlled state like the People’s Republic, that idea is not so easy to sell and, with the continued domination of shortterm thinking, it’s even more difficult in the democracies. At the conclusion of the meeting, the attendees produced and signed a declaration entitled Changing Climate, Changing Cities: The great urban transformation memorandum. The opening sentence is: ‘We are at a watershed moment.’ We can only hope that more citizens, mayors and national governments will take up the challenge.
The most vivid memories of these few days are visual and auditory. The future was very much in mind as we listened to informed presentations, viewed the incredible city of Hong Kong from on high, and heard the unique sound of a local jazz quartet featuring Jessie Hou playing the bowed, two-string Erhu. East meets West in ways emphasising the extraordinary richness and diversity that’s at risk if we fail to achieve global sustainability. Our greatest challenge is to preserve and protect for future generations. Whatever our cultural background or national affiliation, all human beings inhabit this one small planet. Particularly for policymakers and business entrepreneurs, the challenge/opportunity is to look to the future and embrace that reality.