A plan for creating safe, green and socially inclusive cities

PACE’s Social Affairs Committee has spelled out the essential steps Europe’s cities should take to build inclusive and sustainable urban communities which fully meet a key UN development goal.

In a draft resolution based on a report by Sybille Benning (Germany, EPP/CD), the committee said quality urban development should be built around citizen participation, respect for the environment, sufficient authority for local authorities, good governance and giving priority to social cohesion and human rights.

“Cities and towns that meet the needs of everyone provide the foundations of prosperous and peaceful societies,” the committee pointed out, recalling that almost 75 per cent of Europe’s population lives in urban areas, a figure that is growing.

“Urban development often involves addressing conflicting needs and interests, and requires effective mechanisms for negotiation and decision-making,” the committee said. “The goals of economic development can, but must not, conflict with environmental protection.” All partners – governments, parliamentarians, local and regional authorities and NGOs – had a part to play, it added.

The committee noted with concern that the public sector was “in retreat as a land-owner, investor and regulating authority” in many countries, and deplored the “lack of transparency and accountability” in existing decision-making on urban development.

Ultimately, cities should be “incubators” where sustainable development, human rights and intercultural dialogue were nurtured and mutually reinforced each other.

The report is due to be debated and voted on by the Assembly’s Standing Committee on 24 May.