The Cooperation between Cities event was held at the Borschette Congress Center in Brussels and served to celebrate the third anniversary of the International Urban Cooperation Program (IUC). During the meeting, two Latin American mayors and an institution were protagonists in the progress of the initiatives they promoted in the three years of the program and were recognized by those present.
Latin America was a protagonist in the event, especially regarding the progress of the initiatives they promoted during the program. The municipality of Cali (Colombia) stands out, represented by the specialist in resilience and sustainability of the mayor of Cali, María Fernanda Arias Giraldo, for her work in post-conflict and violence with Belfast; the city of Godoy Cruz (Argentina), represented by Tadeo García, for his work in the area of citizen participation; and the Cities for Life Forum (Peru), represented by its director Liliana Miranda, praised for her work in municipal strengthening in preventing climate change.
With a format that sought to give voice to program participants to relate their work experiences with other cities, the event was divided into several blocks: in the first, it was about sustainable urban development, with a focus on planning and developing concrete actions; in the second block, the theme was financing local climate actions. During the afternoon, there were talks in three different blocks addressing: transition to clean energy, natural solutions to urban problems, circular economy and sustainable mobility; and citizen participation in building smart cities and adapting the coasts.
The block “From planning to action” was attended by María Fernanda Arias Giraldo, from the mayor of Cali, who highlighted the excellent work carried out in the IUC-LAC program with her European partner city, Belfast. “In this exchange with Belfast, we found that they have an issue of restorative justice that has been very well worked out, which in Cali is still beginning and in which we have a lot to progress. For their part, they found that in Cali, programs and projects aimed at preventing violence are more focused on psychosocial issues and that, in their programs, mental health did not work sufficiently, which caused strong segregation and hindered the overcoming of conflict ” said Arias.
The Colombian representative also emphasized that Belfast taught them a lot about the use of physical spaces and “how Belfast builds a park or sports center that seeks to change the habits of the community”. “Another point we learned is that urban art becomes very important in cities to integrate young people,” he concluded.
In the second session, “Implementing and financing local climate actions”, Latin America highlighted the participation of the director of the Peruvian Cities for Life Forum, Liliana Miranda, who addressed the chronology of the institution she runs and stated that when they worked on the law of climate change, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy emerged and fit perfectly. “We were working on this and, thanks to the Covenant and small funds, we were able to accompany the municipalities in a more sustained process for developing their capacities and drawing up their climate action plans.”
The Director of the Foro Ciudades para la Vida in Peru, Liliana Miranda, during her speech
Miranda said that 2019 was a fundamental year for FCV, together with the Covenant, because they “worked all year in workshops and in a guide for municipalities to develop their adaptation plans”.
Regarding citizen participation, the participation of Tadeo García, Mayor of Godoy Cruz, highlighted that it was a great learning experience to participate in a panel on the commitment of citizens and local actors to build smart cities with other cities such as Japan, Croatia, France and Argentina. “There are supposed to be things in very developed countries like Japan, but they have problems with access to technology for the elderly.”
The Argentine representative said that he took “many ideas from the program” and that now they will work to adapt all those ideas locally. In addition, he said he was interested in cases involving small towns, such as youth camps where issues of climate change are discussed or the use of China’s Big Data to bring information to certain segments of the population and get them involved in public transport.