On the 7th of May the EUROCITIES network launched a new campaign named “cities4europe – Europe for citizens” – a name that nicely matches our project’s name. The match is not only in the name, but also in the objectives: cities4europe aims to promote people-oriented approaches and to strengthen or increase the collaboration between authorities, policy makers and citizens by means of participatory politics.
The campaign is based on three main pillars, that is:
- Involve – engaging citizens in a dialogue about the future
- Inspire – promoting societies where people come first
- Impact – changing European decision making.
The focus of the campaign is on European cities, which have the potential to act at a local level to pursue mechanisms of citizen involvement. The driver of the campaign is the willingness to shape new forms of democracy that can enhance Europe’s legitimacy against the growing power of Eurosceptic movements as well as help bring the people to the centre of politics.
During the European opening of the campaign at BOZAR on the 7th of May, several speakers from different backgrounds ranging from politics to arts to sociology, philosophy and economics shared their view on citizen engagement and participatory practices. They drew the attention of the audience to the relevance of an open dialogue and to the importance of including more vulnerable categories, such as homeless people and migrants, in decision making. Saskia Sassen, Professor at the Columbia University and member of the Committee on Global Thought, suggested, for example, to have digital tools in all poor neighbourhood in order to make sure accessibility is granted to those who do not have the resources to buy digital equipment and in order to enable them to provide authorities with feedback on major needs in their areas. Ingrid Pecquet, general and financial director of Recyclart presented the case of an institution that works on the streets, as it were, and uses arts to give disempowered and marginalised people ways to re-enter society. Phillipe Van Parijs, philosopher and economist and professor emeritus at the UCL, played with the idea of actively engaging people in socially-helpful actions one day a month (for instance, cleaning up their neighbourhood) to increase their sense of belonging to the community and to have them contribute to positively change the city.
Since the launch event in Brussels, cities4europe has been implemented across Europe through the organisation of multiple events in the 85 different cities that have endorsed the campaign. Until the end of the year, cities will plan activities to involve, inspire and impact – among others, photo competitions, art exhibitions, political summits, concerts, festivals, street shows, debates, and guided tours. New cities are welcome to join. Moreover, citizens are invited to submit ideas and recommendations on how to increase participatory practices in policy making. To do so, you can either attend one of the planned event and complete a dedicated postcard or simply fill it online. A first selection of recommendations will be presented during the EUROCITIES annual conference next November (28-30/11/2018) in Edinburgh.
For further information check the campaign website and see what is going on near you.