New urban plan for Catalonia aims to put environment first
Urban Agenda announced for 2021, while green groups call Barcelona council's response to climate emergency "insufficient"
A new strategic plan aimed at helping cities face the challenges of the 21st century, especially those related to the environment, was announced on Monday by the body charged with drawing up the document, the Urban Assembly of Catalonia.
The Urban Agenda of Catalonia will be ready in the first quarter of 2021, and will aim to make the urban landscape more natural, adapt new infrastructure to climate change, and speed up efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda.
According to the head of the UN Habitat agency in Spain, Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, it is time to go from "words" to "actions," while the Catalan territory minister, Damià Calvet, described the plan as a tool "at the service of the public."
The Assembly says the main principle behind the plan will be the environment, with measures to adapt and mitigate new construction and to reduce the heat island effect, in which urban areas are warmer than surrounding areas due to human activities.
Air quality is also one of the plan's main objectives, by defining atmospheric protection zones and reducing the emission of polluting gases, as well as looking at innovative methods of urbanism that allow for new energy models.
In general, the new Urban Agenda will deal with issues related to health, wellbeing, urban quality, prosperity, the environment, and good government, with the aim of providing around a dozen practical goals for cities to set.
Environmental groups slam Barcelona council
Meanwhile, a movement representing a number of environmental organizations, Moviments pel Clima, said on Monday that while it appreciated the Barcelona city council's climate emergency declaration, it was critical of the timetable for the changes it foresees.
Criticizing the pledge to implement the plan over the "long term", by 2030, the movement called on the city to make changes during the current political term and to prioritize the measures that will most effectively bring about a measurable reduction in emissions.
The environmental organization also criticized the city for not detailing which emissions reductions it aims for, nor the timetable nor the budget for each measure, arguing that what is required is a transparent means of tracing the effectiveness of the measures adopted.
It is also criticized the authorities for not implementing the Moviment's proposal of setting up an independent body of experts to annually supervise whether each of the commitments to reduce emissions had been fulfilled or not.
Made up of such environmental organizations as Climacció, Families For Future Bcn, Fridays For Future BCN, Moviment per la Justícia Climàtica and Rebel·lió o Extinció Bcn, Moviments pel Clima regretted that seven demands it made have not been considered.
Among those demands were a timetable for halting further expansion of port, airport and road infrastructure, as well as new air and maritime routes, while the organization said it considers the implementation of low emission zones in the city to be "insufficient."