We live in an increasingly tense and unequal world. Recent crises have highlighted the shortcomings of our systems and the weaknesses of institutions and have posed risks to rights, freedoms and democracy. In the light of this, we are obliged to implement a change of model taking into account economic, social and territorial points of view, replacing mere economic growth and developmentalism with a true human development approach that sets peace, people, the planet, democracy and gender equality as the objectives of political action. This change of model, articulated in the form of a new social contract and a new territorial contract, and aligned with global agendas, cannot be delayed any longer. Last year’s review of the new urban agenda at the UN emphasised the critical role of intermediary cities and their determining function as a nexus of balance between populations and territories through a new contract between rural and urban areas within the framework of common objectives such as the preservation of biodiversity; population and wealth redistribution; the management of cultural heritage; and a new approach to the role of rural areas in decarbonisation. To achieve these objectives, it is essential to identify concepts and instruments that enable the kind of territorial planning that ensures connections between the urban and the rural, between the city and its surrounding territory. To fulfil this role, intermediary cities must have planning and management instruments consistent with their realities, with a goal of connected autonomy. Intermediary cities must take control of their socioeconomic development, combining the interweaving of their own capacities with the necessary connection to global production and consumption networks, enhancing the differential factors and competitive advantages provided by the territory and their own social capital.
Last year’s review of the new urban agenda at the UN emphasised the critical role of intermediary cities and their determining function as a nexus of balance between populations and territories.
To achieve adequate socioterritorial cohesion, it is necessary to advance along different lines of action, which configure a new social, environmental and territorial pact between rural and urban areas. This social pact must contribute to the common objectives mentioned above: preservation of biodiversity, population and wealth redistribution, maintenance of the territory and cultural heritage.
A new approach to the role of rural areas in a decarbonised society based on 100 % of energy being renewable. The basis for this new pact is the development of territorial, municipal or supramunicipal strategies with an appropriate approach, where cities are no longer isolated subjects but part of an organic territorial unit of planning and co-management that is able to maximise its self-sufficiency and resilience as a result of its diversity and multifunctionality.
As Professor Mercedes Molina points out:
the model of concentration of population, investment, and public and private policies around a few large urban and metropolitan areas is absolutely unsustainable, makes it impossible to achieve the SDGs, and exacerbates the problem of climate change with the abandonment of a large part of the territory, and is also contrary to the commitment to the New Urban Agenda.
A new approach to the role of rural areas in a decarbonised society based on 100 % of energy being renewable. The basis for this new pact is the development of territorial, municipal or supramunicipal strategies.
The new Urban Agenda and the European urban agenda are agendas of the territories, of the places and living spaces of citizens. They set out the strategic framework for the sustainable development of cities, regardless of their size. This strategic framework must connect territories, rights and opportunities, and not seek solutions that isolate urban policies as if the present and future of these cities were independent or as if places were indifferent to what happens around them. Urban agendas must be agendas of interterritorial solidarity.
Therefore, a city such as Soria, an intermediary city connected and committed at provincial, regional, national and European levels, must take the following actions.
-Renew democracy and citizenship: there is a clear lack of confidence of communities in the institutions that represent them, and government systems are being questioned. The local/territorial level is essential in rethinking and reforming governance systems to make them more participatory, accountable and transparent.
-Relentlessly promote the ecological transition: as a firm commitment to the future, the sustainable development model must be the basis for actions regarding the environment, territory and resources, enabling growth and ensuring that no one and no territory is left behind.
-Defend feminism and gender equality: women’s status, specific needs and unique contribution to shaping the future of humanity cannot remain invisible and neglected in the formulation and monitoring of public policies. Equality, and more specifically gender equality, must be placed at the heart of all development processes to ensure that decision-making is done in a conscious way, without forgetting half of the world’s population. Europe, more than ever, must be an example of this.
The transformation that needs to take place in our development model will only be possible if it responds to the dreams and expectations of communities, and if we take collective responsibility for adapting to and making sacrifices for more egalitarian, just and sustainable societies. The change we need to transform societies will be local, or there will be no effective change.