In recent years, urban life has undergone a series of rapid transformations linked to the accelerated climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, the worsening of social divide and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, democracy issues and citizen involvement came into focus and new ways of political participation gained importance, not only, but also in the urban environment.
Faced with the challenges this entails, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe proposes a revision of the European Urban Charter II (2008) in order to support local and regional authorities in building more democratic, cohesive, sustainable and digital societies. During a debate in the sitting of the Chamber of Local Authorities on 26 October 2022, at the 43rd Congress Session, members examined the different aspects of this work which also reflect the priorities of the Congress for 2021-2026.
“It is in our cities and towns, on a daily basis, that citizens see the extent to which fundamental freedoms and citizens' human rights are respected. The Charter is a kind of Urban Constitution of local authorities containing a corpus of urban rights and principles,” underlined the rapporteur Anne Colgan (Ireland, ILDG), presenting the Urban Charter as a practical tool focusing on quality-of-life issues and good urban management.
The Urban Charter III project aims to offer innovative solutions to current challenges and universal principles of ethical governance, fair future, sustainable development and solidarity. The structure of the draft report was presented by Christina Binder, Bundeswehr University of Munich, Germany, and member of the Congress Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government, through concrete examples.
Taking account of the Congress’ acquis, the new Urban Charter will bring under one umbrella the work carried out in the different committees, in particular, to promote a healthy environment, the reduction of social inequalities, the strengthening of the urban-rural interplay as well as smart and human-centred cities. Against the backdrop of current threats to liberal democracy, the Urban Charter III will highlight the importance of safeguarding democracy at the local level by improving the quality of representative democracy and citizen participation, notably of young people, in cities and towns.
The draft Urban Charter III will be presented for adoption to the Congress during its October 2023 Session.