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Presentation of the Manifesto for World Cities Day

On the occasion of World Cities Day, celebrated on 31 October, the Fundació Catalunya Europa presented the World Cities Day Manifesto as part of the event "Cities for peace and democracy: Sarajevo or Kiiv" on the role of cities in peace, democracy and solidarity in war.

With the benchmark of the success of the experience of the 11th district of the Barcelona City Council in Sarajevo, during the Balkan War, we discussed how today local governments and Catalan municipalities can contribute to peace and cooperation.

Thirty years after the Balkans, the war has returned to Europe and has once again revived the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine, which has historically also moved the solidarity of many Catalan municipalities. But in the current context, what is the role of cities? Have the priorities changed because the EU has also taken on another role? How can local governments deal with war conflicts?

To talk about it, we have had three expert speakers in this area:

  • Manel Vila, head of humanitarian aid and manager of District XI that integrated Sarajevo into the municipal structure of the City of Barcelona (1996-2000), Task for which he has received the award of Citizen of Honour of the City of Sarajevo.
  • Jordi Cortés, International Cooperation Technician, City-City and Mediterranean, Balkans and Sub-Saharan Africa, Barcelona City Council.
  • Carme Barbany, City Council Advisor for Granollers, municipality that chairs the international network Mayors for Peace (Mayors for Peace) and the Network of Mayors and Mayors for Peace of Catalonia.

The event was also attended by Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of the European Association for Local Democracy. In closing, the president of the Catalunya Europa Foundation, Airy Maragall, read the World Cities Day Manifesto of the Fundació Catalunya Europa, which is available on the web.

A manifesto in defense of cities and their international weight

The Manifesto expresses "support for local democracy and the municipalities as essential counterparts in the prevention of conflicts, cooperation and the reconstruction of coexistence". In addition, it claims "the political role of cities, and the need for institutions and networks representing the local world, to be part of international organizations with their own voice".

The text also includes the words of the Mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, in the inaugural speech of the Embassy for Local Democracy in the city of Sarajevo in 1996. A successful experience in the model of city-city cooperation that remains a benchmark for Catalan municipalism in the culture of peace and the reconstruction of cities in the post-war period.

"Proximity is the key to identifying and solving citizens' problems; cities are therefore the most suitable space for the exercise of democracy. This proximity to citizens legitimizes local governments as major contributors to peace and cooperation processes, which must always be the fruit of dialogue; and thus, cities can form a safety net against the rigidity of diplomatic relations between states".