Dear ICLEI friends and colleagues,
Cities are taking the lead when it comes to pushing the sustainable agenda. This was emphasized last April in Bilbao, Spain, where the Basque Declaration was approved at the 8th European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference.
The declaration focuses on accelerating the socio-cultural, socio-economic and technological transformation of our cities and it is an important guide for cities in the sustainable transition of Europe.
It is the natural extension of the path, which European cities and towns decided to embark upon together, when we, in May 1994, approved the Aalborg Charter. The document that kick-started the European move towards sustainability (through the European Cities and Towns Campaign) was in 2004 followed by the Aalborg Commitments and a focus on the development of a common understanding of sustainability as well as the creation of a framework to be used at local level in the implementation of local sustainability strategies. With the Basque Declaration, time has now come to pursue concrete solutions to identified sustainability issues.
In cooperation with the Basque Country and ICLEI, the City of Aalborg has created a platform that will further support the sustainable transition at a local level. On www.sustainablecities.eu, cities can upload their transformative actions in order to inspire others with specific solutions and in turn be inspired by other cities’ transformative actions. This is to support the above-mentioned transformative acceleration.
In addition, each year we will reward the transformative actions with the highest level of innovation that inspire others to replicate the action elsewhere with the Transformative Action of the Year Award. The actions awarded will have achieved a comprehensive transformation with a positive local or regional impact. Cities and organizations can apply via the website by the 19th of June with an award ceremony to be held in October.
These initiatives, while focusing on a European context, are meant to inspire on a global scale. Cities are – as I stated in the beginning – taking the lead and we have been for decades. We are also pushing the agenda to the next level as we did in 1994 and 2004. We know all too well that the human world is now defined by urbanization, with over three-quarters of all people on Earth will be living in cities by 2070. It is now more important than ever to gather our focus and push forward with the agenda of transforming our sustainable agendas and to integrate our vision of a sustainable future into the work we do on the ground, especially at the local scale – the scale of our cities.
On behalf of all the citizens of Aalborg, we are very excited about the years ahead. Our sustainability story will be something to look back on with pride, and we hope that by sharing our sustainability story with other cities around Europe and the world we can meet these global environmental challenges in a unified and cooperative manner.
Mayor Thomas Kastrup-Larsen
City of Aalborg, Denmark