The Conference to be held at the Europa Congress Center on March 27th, 28th and 29th, will focus on the sustainable construction of cities, and will welcome international speakers, such as Saskia Sassen from the Netherlands, winner of the Prince of Asturias Prize in Social Sciences in 2013, as well as Gil Peñalosa from Colombia, president and founder of the Canadian organization “8 80 Cities” and ambassador of the World Network of Urban Parks.
The event will encourage collaboration between the cities of the network through specific workshops on different themes and will host a meeting between mayors to continue to develop this network created by the Municipality of Clermont-Ferrand (France), headquarters of Michelin.
Vitoria-Gasteiz will be transformed at the end of March into one of the world capitals of sustainability, thanks to the 2nd International Network of Michelin Cities Conference, an initiative which brings together the cities that house the aforementioned French multinational corporation. The capital of the Basque Country takes over from Clermont-Ferrand, Michelin’s headquarters, which hosted the network’s first meeting in 2017. 26 cities and more than 120 participants from 4 different continents have already confirmed their presence, which shows the interest that has aroused this meeting whose main subject will be the construction of sustainable cities of the future. Among the municipalities represented at the Europa Congress Center, in addition to Vitoria-Gasteiz and Clermont-Ferrand, there are Shanghai (China), Querétaro (Mexico), Karlsruhe (Germany), Salford (United Kingdom), Anderson (USA), Alexandria (Italy), Guarulhos (Brazil), Maebashi (Japan) and Regensburg (Germany).
The meeting, which will be inaugurated by the Basque President, Iñigo Urkullu and the mayors of Vitoria-Gasteiz and Clermont-Ferrand, will begin with opening remarks by two tenors dedicatesd to the study and reflection on the sustainablity of cities of the future: Saskia Sassen and Gil Peñalosa. Sassen is a Dutch writer and sociologist who lives in the United States, where she is a professor at the prestigious Columbia University in New York. Known worldwide for her essay “The Global City”, she is the creator of this concept, and a specialist in studying the effects of globalization in cities, taking into account aspects such as gender, inequality or digitization. Awarded in 2013 with the Prince of Asturias Prize for Social Sciences, she is the only woman on the list of the 10 best social scientists in the world. Saskia Sassen has also collaborated with prestigious institutions such as the London School of Economics, the Royal Institute of Stockholm or the universities of Ghent and Poitiers.
For his part, Gil Peñalosa is the founder and president of the non-profit organization “8 80 Cities”. Colombian by birth, he has lived in Toronto (Canada) for many years, and is passionate about cities for all. He has advised more than 300 cities from all continents, and is a specialist in urban parks, he is, in fact, also ambassador of the World Organization of Urban Parks, and participated in the design and development of the network of Bogota.
The first day of the meeting, which will be led by Vitoria journalist Vanesa Sánchez, will also include 3 interventions focusing on the 3 main axes of sustainability: the environment, society and the economy. Each of these axes, where cities will show their experiences, will include 3 expert interventions in each of the domains.
Green Capitals of Europe
On Thursday, March 28th, the conference will begin with a round table that will bring together four of the cities elected as Green Capitals of Europe where they will discuss the necessary conditions to become a sustainable city. Vitoria-Gasteiz will host the meeting, which will also feature officials from Oslo, the current Green City; Lisbon, the proposed capital for 2020; and the municipality of Nijmegen, which bore this title in 2018. A magnificent opportunity for participating cities to learn from leaders in the sustainability of the old continent. The following day, guided tours are being planned to showcase various projects of the city, such as the Technological Park and BIC Araba, the Green Ring, the network of Civic Centers, or sustainable mobility and construction.
The afternoon will begin with a Round Table of Mayors, which will take place at the Europa Congress Center and where the main leaders of network cities will continue discuss the future of INMC. At the same time, the rest of the attendees will participate in different workshops on subjects such as sustainable mobility, city planning and urbanism, circular economy, among others. In addition, short presentations will be made on different initiatives undertaken by participating cities, companies and startups. Their goal is to strengthen collaboration and synergies among cities to create stronger links that help advance the construction of more sustainable cities.
On Friday March 29th, the closing day will begin with a tour for Mayors of the Michelin factory, at the same time other members of the delegations will continue to learn about ungoing projects of the various participating cities.