The Basque Declaration

On 23rd May representatives of cities, organisations, and citizens concerned about sustainable development and the future of our urban areas have been invited to endorse The Basque Declaration. This builds on the Aalborg Charter (1994) and the Aalborg Commitments (2004) in providing urban societies with fifteen pathways to become productive, sustainable and resilient. It was adopted by local and regional leaders taking part in the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns in Bilbao in April 2016.

The Declaration highlights innovative thinking and action in engagement with civil society to secure sustainable development. In order to support the necessary socio-cultural transformation the signatories commit themselves to ‘actively involve our citizens and go beyond participatory planning into participatory implementation by supporting and using new approaches like co-production, co-design and co-innovation’.

On an instrumental level this should increase the capacity needed to facilitate sustainable development in cities well beyond that which bureaucracies and regulation can normally achieve. Through engagement there is also a greater chance of political sustainability around new initiatives. And, very importantly, such an expansion of democratic practice in this way is a good in itself and integral to the principle of social justice in sustainable development.