SUSTAINABILITY

Specialised team at work planning in the old quarter of Valls

IMAGE: La Titaranya SCCL

Closing the gap: Local stakeholders are bridging climate promises and concrete progress

December 8, 2021

 

By Schuyler Cowan

Officer, Strategic Communications & Campaigns, Communications & Member Relations, ICLEI Europe

 

Despite this solemn reminder, a gap between promises and concrete progress continues to exist. Local authorities and organisations are stepping up to help bridge this gap by translating global goals into practical, measurable actions. With these local stakeholders advancing meaningful change, blueprints for climate-neutral, sustainable and equitable communities are steadily emerging.

 

Historical centre of Valls, Spain

IMAGE: La Titaranya SCCL

Spearheading local transitions for global change

 

 

 

In spite of the tough competition, the Catalan cooperative stood out to the Transformative Action Award Jury for its clear plan to catalyse a local, sustainable transformation. Wolfgang Teubner, Jury Member and Regional Director of ICLEI Europe, notes the project’s benefits for greater Europe as well:

 

“In order to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal we need local governments and civil society actors on the ground to implement it and to accelerate action. La Titaranya SCCL has convincingly demonstrated that positive transformation can happen when local stakeholders take ownership of creating a sustainable, equitable future.”

 

 

Engaging community members in strategic planning in the old quarter of Valls

IMAGE: La Titaranya SCCL

Local initiative drives meaningful progress

 

La Titaranya has received a 75-year surface right to develop subsidised housing and premises for socio-economic organisations and companies, in addition to revitalising the old quarter of Valls which encompasses a severely degraded neighbourhood. With support from community organisations, the Catalan local government and Valls City Council, La Titaranya has developed a long-term strategy with direct governance from citizens. The strategy outlines the implementation of social housing, public spaces, a climate shelter, heritage recovery, a local organic food store and more, all based on principles of social economy.

 

The project stems from community members’ disappointment in the lack of assistance for an area that had long suffered from high rates of sub-standard housing and poverty, poor urban development and widespread degradation. Gérard Nogués Balsells, Partner, La Titaranya underscores the initiative’s motivation:

 

“We live in an area that has suffered unimaginable levels of degradation over the past few decades and after many years of waiting for the capitalist market or the public administration to find sustainable and local solutions, the people of the neighborhood, social and community agents, decided to organise and find our own collective solutions to the lack of housing, lack of green areas, the lack of social premises or lack of green economic activity. In short, La Titaranya is responding to the need to offer sustainable life to this neighbourhood…We are working very hard to demonstrate the transformative capacity of this new model.”

 

 

 

La Titaranya’s space for cooperation

IMAGE: La Titaranya SCCL

So, like many local actors, La Titaranya decided to take matters into its own hands. In order to tackle the formidable challenge of rehabilitating the historical centre of Valls and to mitigate climate degradation, La Titaranya has focused on fostering strategic partnerships with the municipality and residents, in addition to creating technical teams to implement the project on the ground.

 

In the first phase of the transformation, the project is based on the collaboration of eight cooperatives, six NGOs and 100 people. The various teams specialise in local development, architecture, social economy, tourism, heritage recovery and more. While each team’s task has a specific focus, the general modus operandi revolves around improving the well-being of residents and the environment. For example, the architects responsible for developing seven social housing units, a community space, an office for two cooperatives, an agro-ecological store, a new public space of 450m2 and a climate shelter with a wooded courtyard, outdoor showers and air-conditioning by 2023 are specialised in rehabilitation, construction with environmental criteria and feminist urban planning.

 

Recovery of heritage and sustainability are also critical aspects of this transformative action. La Titaranya aims to respect the integrity of existing historical architecture during construction, while promoting local heritage through regular cultural activities. The cooperative is also planning to reduce the environmental impacts of the construction process by using local producers and sustainable construction materials. Meanwhile, the planned generation of photovoltaic electricity is designed to encourage an energy-smart community.

 

 

 

Community event presentation

IMAGE: La Titaranya SCCL

Collective action is key

 

 

International organisations, supranational entities and national governments need to collaborate with local governments and stakeholders to tap into their knowledge of citizens and communities, in addition to offering them more holistic support because these local actors may just be the world’s best chance to accelerate sustainable transitions and mitigate climate change.

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