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Classroom, Cultural Diplomacy, News

Agenda 21: Barcelona, Timişoara and Lisbon experience presented

On 24 November, as part of Rijeka’s preparations to be the first Croatian city to adopt Agenda 21 (also known as Culture 21), the international programme which focuses on 21st century urban development through sustainable development and governance, RIJEKA 2020 LLC has organised a presentation of the Pilot Cities Programme in cooperation with United Cities and Local Governments. This took place in the afternoon session on the last day of the conference Participatory Governance in Culture: Exploring Practices, Theories and Policies. DO IT TOGETHER.

Representatives from Barcelona, Lisbon and Timişoara have presented their own experiences in the preparation and implementation of Agenda 21 to the hosts in Rijeka.

First to speak was Jordi Baltà Portolés, advisor to Culture in Sustainable Cities, who said that the implementation of Agenda 21 in Barcelona started in 2004. The key role in the process was played by the local government, but in order to achieve the desired results, it is imperative to connect with and actively involve citizens.

Professionals in culture, the university sector and civil (NGO) sector also play important roles, so it can be concluded that results are achieved using tools which link various stakeholders and encourage their learning supported by experts.

Diana Donawell from the Timişoara city management pointed out that she comes from a place which is currently preparing for the implementation of Agenda 21, and that preparations started last year. The first step for Timişoara (ECOC 2021) was organising workshops with experts attended by representatives of the city management, cultural stakeholders, workers in educations, and ethnic and social minorities.

After completing the analysis of the local context, Timişoara drafted a work programme, then applied the programme, including learning, part of which were study visits to cities where Agenda 21 has already been implemented.

The principles of Agenda 21 became the basic element of Timişoara’s cultural strategy and the city’s development strategy. The measures taken to apply the programme are expected to act in synergy for the benefit of the city.

Alexandra Sabino, adviser to Lisbon’s Sector for Culture, emphasised the methodology used to approach activity preparation.

In Lisbon, everything started with the analysis of historical, political and cultural frameworks, accompanied by domestic and international workshops, the organisation of several public events focused on Agenda 21, and a delegation was sent to Buenos Aires in order to learn about others’ experiences.

The city on a different content came on the radar because of the cultural bonds between Portugal and South America, which resulted in the founding of the Ibero-American Capital of Culture initiative, spreading the idea of ECOC to other continents.

The process included activities on the local level such as encouraging children to read (in collaboration with city libraries), getting to know neighbouring city neighbourhoods, organising the Mura festival of street arts, etc.