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Documentos > Reunión de los Comités Habitat Europeos (1995) >

Conclusions of the European Regional Meeting of National Committees Habitat II held in Madrid on 27 and 28 november 1995


Within the framework of the preparatory activities of the HABITAT II Conference and following the recommendations of the United Nations, set up in Resolution 47/180 of the General Assembly of December 22nd 1992, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union summoned the European Regional Meeting of National Committees Habitat II, held in Madrid on 27 and 28 November 1995.

The meeting was attended by delegations of the following National Committees of Member States of the European Union: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom and Sweden. Likewise, delegations of the following bodies were present: European Commission, Secretariat of HABITAT (UNCHS), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the city-networks G4 + and American Capital Cities Union (UCCI).

The aim of the meeting was the review and evaluation of the main features of the urbanization process and the Union cities, as well as the policy and management experiences related to towns and territory. Reflection on the mere problems and the necessary town reforms shall permit to enhance the implementation of the HABITAT AGENDA in our countries, and shall submit to the Conference and other world regions the concerns of the European Union Member States regarding the state of urbanization in Europe and territorial and urban policies throughout our countries.

The Italian delegation, in its role as the next European Presidency, has stated its willingness to organiza a second meeting of National Committees HABITAT II, after PREPCOM III, to follow up the debate towards a European stance on the development of the HAbitat AGENDA in the European Union state members.

The following two points were considered essential, as summary of the meeting conclusions:

  1. The town is a way for coexistence, historically consolidated, fundamental for the sustainable development of our societies which at present demand policies approaching integrated competitiveness, social cohesion and sustainibility.

  2. The governability of urban territories has to be based on the cooperation of public administrations, leading basic policies and town projects, making easier the engagement participation of all agents and developping the spirit of citizenship based on the active sharing of the urban life.


It is the desire of the National Committees of the European Union to provide the HABITAT II Conference with the experience of a city based continent. We are aware of the variety existing between the various regions of the world and it is not our intention to present the "european city" as a paradigmatic pattern. However, since we are suffering from a strong urbanization process -which in many cases does not necessarily mean town development- we consider very useful the reflection about the experience of problems and oportunities of the European cities.

The European city is a complex organization featured by the population density and social relationship, heterogeneity of functions and activities, inhabitants diversity, existence of civic culture and traditional selfgovernment. However, these potentials are not fully developped by each town, suffering besides from important and decisive processes at present; in any case this city pattern is generally considered to be positive and appropriate to overcome the domestic problems and those arising from the relationship with other territories and towns.

  1. Globalization is strengthening the demand for the territories to be competitive and efficient. We think that this competitiveness should be based on big and medium size towns, articulating the whole territory and the rural areas. The towns designed as central entities shall be the nodes of the communications net integrating the spread urbanization and rural areas.

  2. Sustainibility is a main problem of the european urban system to be addressed at different levels:

    natural and cultural environment of the towns, their neighborhoods and districts, and their surrounding areas (metropolitan regions, town sustaining ecosystems,etc.)

    country or nation, and the European Union Member States (transboundary items), on issues demanding a major global treatment, for instance the management of certain natural resources (i.e. water, afforestation, desertification,etc).

    global implications (greenhouse effect, ozone layer, consumption of non renewable energy resources, etc.)

  3. We need to rebuild and develop a city pattern taking into account a formal continuity, functional proximity and social diversity. The design of big cities, in particular, and urban systems in general, shall foster a set of centralities and the organization of the corresponding infrastructures, making each of the sectors accessible and appealing including the relationship with rural areas based on their specific assets.

  4. All populations undergoing urbanization are entitled to the "Right to the City". Real access to town and citizenship identity ought to be a basic principle of public concern. To have the right to the city includes housing, fully equipped and socially considered districts, articulation with the whole city, providing an easy centralities access, possiblities of having a job and the appropriate training and political and legal equality of every inhabitant. The practice of this right could call for positive discriminating measures and culturan enhancement, for those districts or groups which are exempted due to economic, social or cultural reasons, not only in towns but also in the peripheries and rural areas.

  5. The right to housing is an objective of the entire public policies. The increasing fullfilment of this aim requires a set of diversified tools taking in mind the variety of problems and demands. Among these tools we can mention the measures standing up to the efficient and housing and land markets, a land policy struggling against the social and urban functions segregation, the concerted programs between public and private agents, to ease the access of low income sectors to housing and loans, and specific attention to excluded groups. The urban housing supply can be considered as such, only when it counts on a well equipped environment provided with good communications.

  6. The objectives of social cohesion and cultural integration will have to be embodied in every city policy, facing fragmentation which derives very often from economic globalization and from the responses through punctual and sectorial initiatives. The projects of urban development and renewal, should always reflect a will for functional and social multi-faceted and the capacity of material and symbolic integration of the population. To encourage the citizens initiatives and to cooperate with the social groups concerned is something indispensable to succeed with these policies.

  7. The interadministrative concertation, in order to design and carry out city integrated policies, facing the main problems of competitiveness, social cohesion and sustainability, are considered positive and their experience should be generalized. These actions generally require an ambitious drive from the public sector, integrating different public administrations levels in order to obtain social consensus and to foster a global scheme of the city. To do so, it is also necessary to develop the engagement of local communities and the private sector, in accordance with each action features.

  8. National, and eventually regional, governments influency the european community policies, and responsables for setting up the legal and financial frameworks and promoting city actions, shall assume and assure the implementation of these objectives through their support and participation in the most convenient ways in the development of the city policies.

  9. It is necessary to foster the development of democracy and local autonomy, in acknowledgement of the principle of subsidiarity or proximity and the leading role to be developped by the local governments. The European experience of constitutional and national protection of these principles, through the Council of Europe, is considered very positive. On these grounds it is easier to develop the State descentralization procedures and to improve the governability of our regions and cities by means of a more balanced distribution of powers among administrations and the adequate financial instruments.

  10. Entrancing civic participation and permanent innovation of the procedures and techniques of the relationship between administrative bodies and civil society, communication and cooperation, is considered essential. City policies require civil support.

  11. The political will for cities to become a privileged place to build the european citizenship, shall be enhanced, increasing their relating and integrating role of all European citizens..

  12. The cities can play an important role in the economic, social and cultural global changes, in the implementation of the cooperation programmes and in the raising of solidarity and tolerance universal values. This is why internacional agencies and national governments should support city networks, their local authorities and civil society, in order to develop cooperation programmes, especially those related to the specific problems of the city and human settlements.
UE National Habitat Committees

Fecha de referencia: 08-10-1997

Documentos > Reunión de los Comités Habitat Europeos (1995) >
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
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Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio