It is imperative that the well-being of urban life is defended, and that all political currents row in favour of sustainability

At Forever Green, we believe that urban growth and the new challenges arising from the climate emergency must be addressed with a comprehensive and sustainable approach. The cities of the future must not only be environmentally friendly, but also ensure the well-being of their inhabitants as pedestrians, prioritizing responsible mobility and public space.

Pontevedra: a model to follow

In Spain, Pontevedra has become a world leader in green mobility, even recognised by the UN. In 1999, Mayor Anxo Fernández Lores set out to encourage walking, reduce noise pollution and reduce the circulation of cars in the centre. These measures, although simple in appearance, were pioneering and have managed to recover the historic center and revitalize local commerce. Today, more than twenty years later, Pontevedra continues to be an exemplary example of urban sustainability, with high levels of satisfaction among its citizens.

Setbacks in urban sustainability

However, not all localities follow this path. In Madrid, after Manuela Carmena’s mandate, the ‘Madrid Central’ low emission zone was one of the first policies repealed by Martínez-Almeida, despite having more than met its emission reduction targets. After several ups and downs, the regulation has returned to conditions similar to those of 2018, but not without incurring significant additional costs. In Elche, the arrival of PP and Vox to the Consistory has meant the elimination of the low emission zone and bike lanes, undoing previous progress at a considerable cost.

Inspiring examples of sustainability

Despite these setbacks, there are hopeful examples. In Medellín, Colombia, a plan has been developed since 2016 that has invested more than fifteen million dollars in green corridors. These corridors have doubled biodiversity, reduced the average temperature by 2°C and encouraged the use of bicycles. In Spain, Valencia has been named European Green Capital 2024, with 97% of its population living within 300 metres of a green area, and Vitoria also stands out in this area.

The key to success: green spaces and sustainable mobility

The formula for friendlier and more sustainable cities lies in two key factors: the creation of green spaces and the promotion of alternative transport. Green spaces should not only be areas for leisure and rest, but also areas of passage, while effective and safe public transport, together with bike lanes, can displace private vehicles from the centre of our cities.

Innovations in sustainable urbanism

The new architectural and urban trends value reflection on the imposition of old schemes. The aim is to integrate cities that promote livability and sustainability. Proposals such as Chinese architect Kongjian Yu’s “sponge city”, which uses porous land and wetlands to retain water, reduce temperatures, reduce flood risks and purify wastewater, are examples of how we can rethink our cities.

A call to political action

For these initiatives to prosper, it is essential that institutions and political parties defend and promote urban sustainability, reaching a consensus that transcends political agendas and the governments in power. It is imperative that all political currents row together in favor of sustainability, ensuring the well-being of urban life and a greener future for our cities.

At Forever Green, we continue to support and promote initiatives that integrate sustainability and urban well-being, inspired by positive examples and committed to a greener and fairer future for all.

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