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IUC dialogues bring reflections to rethink spaces and mobility in cities

Two meetings of the IUC-LAC Dialogues program between cities in Europe and Latin America brought discussions and exchanges of experiences on urban transformation, on the 9th and 11th of June. The idea is to rethink cities after the impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to have a space for exchanging experiences between cities on adapting to the “new normality”.

Representatives from the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Madrid (Spain), Arequipa (Peru) and Vilnius (Lithuania) participated in the first webinar, dedicated to public space and urban planning. The session, moderated by the specialist in sustainable urban development Susana Arellano, was opened by Lise Pate, deputy director of the Regional Team of Foreign Policy Instruments for the Americas of the European Union Delegation.

In recent decades, urban planning has prioritized the concept of proximity. However, the COVID-19 crisis and the need for physical distance forced cities to establish new models of mobility, transport and use of public space. “Will the compact city model be affected as a sustainability reference?”, Susana asked the speakers, who concluded that the pandemic will redefine cities, in addition to making sustainability even more relevant. Hans Crab presented the case study on the European Union’s Urban Agenda: Partnership for Security on Public Spaces, Brussels Regional Capital.

On June 11, the seminar’s theme was Transport and urban mobility, with the participation of specialist specialists from Armenia (Colombia), Rosario (Argentina), Turin (Italy) and the Eurocities network the network of the main European cities. The session was moderated by Susana Arellano. Maria Rosa Sabbatelli, Head of the Regional Team of Foreign Policy Instruments for the Americas of the European Union Delegation, opened the webinar.

Measures introduced in many cities such as bike paths, pedestrians on the streets, expansion of sidewalks and the extension of green areas seem even more necessary at a time when public spaces must be reconfigured. “Will the changes implemented in the cities produce new models of urban sustainability?”, raised the moderator. The speakers’ opinions converged that the pandemic should accelerate measures towards a more sustainable city, in addition to increasing the relevance of intermodality and micro mobility options.

The superblock model adopted by the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz was presented as a case study by Salvador Rueda and the Mayor of Vitoria Gorka Urtaran. Before the current crisis, the Spanish municipality was already betting on a city that prioritizes people over cars and became the leader of the movement towards sustainable urban development. The superblock limits car traffic, reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and opens the streets for recreation.

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