This morning, the Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, presented the document ‘Strategic Framework of Valencia’, which the City Council proposes for debate at all levels of the city planning to set out the road map that must shape the city’s evolution in the coming years. As the Mayor explained, “beyond the four years of a term of office, we think that it is very important, above all at the present time, to define a frame of reference that we all agree on, with the broad guidelines of where we want to take the city”. Accompanied by the deputy mayors, Sandra Gómez and Sergi Campillo, the mayor emphasised that the Municipal Government’s intention is to approve this document “with the largest consensus”.
“We are a Mediterranean city”, stressed Joan Ribó, “and we want to work with a model of our own that starts from who we are and where we are from. But the groups that are in government cannot do this on their own, we need the opposition and the whole of society on board too”. In fact, the document was presented this morning to the Panel of Spokespersons of the municipal political groups, which may contribute such impressions and proposals as they see fit. The document was also sent to the Social Council of the City, which has been convened to a meeting to be held on 14 April. “With all this documentation, we want to make an initial approval of the document in the upcoming meeting of the Municipal Council in plenary session, to move forward in its development with the whole city”, Ribó explained.
As the Mayor of Valencia explained: “the Strategic Framework we are presenting today profiles a horizon for the city for 2030 and a work methodology that must enable us to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable, healthier, more fairly distributed and more prosperous city. It is a framework to align efforts and capacities around shared objectives”. “The document”, he affirmed, “contributes the key elements to structure the development of the 2030 Valencia Urban Strategy, and consists of a set of viewpoints about the city, strategic vectors, objectives and innovation missions”.
A VALENCIAN MODEL
The deputy mayor and councillor of Sustainable Urban Development, Sandra Gómez, stressed the “huge challenge we face in cities today, given that urban spaces constitute the places of greatest population concentration in the whole world: more than half the world’s population live in cities, and the provisions are that this figure could reach 85% by 2050”. “This means a responsibility and a challenge we must prepare for”, she affirmed.
Gómez emphasised that the Valencia Strategic Framework is a specific document for our city: “It’s not applicable to Valladolid, Cadiz or Madrid, it’s only for Valencia, because it’s a framework that speaks to the city we are and the one we want to be; of our opportunities and challenges, and also our strengths and weaknesses; and it also speaks to the metropolitan environment we want to recover and foster”.
SUSTAINABILITY, A FUNDAMENTAL AXIS
For his part, the deputy mayor and councillor for Urban Ecology, Sergi Campillo, highlighted “urban ecology, sustainability and green policies, which are going to be one of the fundamental axes of development for this city, something that”, he added, “we have already been putting into practice in fact in all municipal policies since 2015: mobility, pedestrianisation, friendly urbanism, recovery of space …” Campillo cited the case of the recovery of the square in front of City Hall for the citizens as a symbol of this policy: “the square has been transformed from a vehicular traffic roundabout to a living space in which at any time of the day there are people strolling, playing and enjoying themselves”. “This is quality of life and a symbol of how we want to transform the city in the coming decades: to make Valencia a European city like the ones we have so often seen when we have travelled, and we thought that here it was almost an impossible dream”.
PEOPLE AT THE CENTRE
The mayor, Joan Ribó, gave details of the general outline of the Valencia Strategic Framework, which is based on three fundamental vectors: the Urban Agenda, the orientation to Innovation Missions, and the context of the post-pandemic recovery. But the heart and cornerstone are, as Ribó emphasised, “people, for whom we incorporate six ‘views’ that encompass the four core principles of the 2030 Valencia Missions: healthy city, sustainable city, shared city and prosperous city”. The city’s Strategic Framework tackles the challenges, strategies and objectives identified in the initial strategy analysis, which are aligned with the SDGs, the Urban Agenda and the recovery plans. “And we define 12 strategic vectors to transform the city and orientate the formulation of the public policies, which are set out in a series of concrete objectives”, the mayor continued.
AN EXCEPTIONAL CONTEXT: POST-COVID-19
The mayor also referred to the exceptional context in which the strategy is drawn up and deployed: the post-Covid recovery. “The global crisis that the pandemic has triggered has left us with two fundamental takeaways to direct the future of our city. It has shown us our vulnerabilities, not only in health terms but also in economic and social terms, and it has added resilience as an inescapable element in the conception of our cities”, he affirmed. “It has also demonstrated the importance of health as a fundamental principle of all municipal policies and has provided a vital opportunity to rethink our cities in terms of a healthy city.
These new challenges are mirrored in new plans and instruments for the recovery, transformation and resilience, that will impact on the availability of resources for transformation in the first half of the decade. Therefore, we believe that it is key to align the city’s Strategic Framework with the ten lever policies linked to the Next Generation Funds”, added Ribó.
The mayor concluded his explanation by referring to a crucial element to move forward in the transition to a sustainable, prosperous, and shared city: data. “We need data that will enable us to ascertain the advances and take the best decisions in terms of public policy; we have to be able to incorporate the most advanced science and the most reliable data to be more effective in the development of the strategy. This is why”, he concluded, “we are working on the development of data infrastructure for the city of Valencia, integrated in the Valencia Smart City platform, to ensure the interoperability and exchange of data with other institutions and other private or social actors, with territorial processing of the data in the city as a whole, and to see how public policies influence the districts of the city in a differentiated manner and be able to adjust them with a rigorous criterion. It is also important to include data in a top-down way with real and concrete information on what is happening in each of the city’s areas. In short, data that can be compatible with the SDGs to monitor advances and objectives”.
Joan Ribó concluded the presentation of the Valencia Strategic Framework document with one reflection: “The urgency of the moment must not prevent us from looking further, since one thing is clear: post-Covid cities will be different cities from the ones we have known thus far. The decisions we make in the coming months and years will be important because they will shape our reality for a long time, probably at least a decade. And we will have to choose among alternatives that will define what kind of cities we will live in in the future”.