We often imagine animals as being either in the wilderness, far from the city, or imprisoned in zoos, while forgetting that there is also a richly diverse and mostly free-living urban fauna living alongside us. Experts and activists will reveal the richness of this natural treasure of Barcelona which is so near and yet so little-known to us.
Urban wildlife and vegetation are not simply a reminder of the natural environment, with which we have an emotional attachment. We also have an obligation to care for them, if we want to contribute effectively to the creation of a functional city, connected to natural cycles and providing a habitable public space.
Living with a pet is a right, but it also involves taking on a series of responsibilities to satisfy the animal’s physical and emotional needs, as well as respecting the rights and well-being of other people.
The reintroduction of the peregrine falcon, the Swallow Project and a pond management system that benefits amphibians and other aquatic creatures are examples of successful initiatives implemented to protect and give prominence to Barcelona’s natural heritage.
Most of the species that nest in buildings are birds of prey. Alpine and common swifts, swallows and bats usually eat small insects. In this sense, the role they play is vital.
An abundance of food, few predators and a more stable and temperate climate are what draws birds to colonize the urban environment so effectively. The main benefits we get from this are intangible and to do with entertainment and aesthetic appreciation.
The emergence or re-emergence of certain diseases boils down to a change in the balance between three things – the host, the pathogen and the environment – and this change is due to many factors, most of them caused by human activity, in particular climate change and globalisation.
Once they have got used to human food, wild boar cannot re-adapt to their natural feeding habits and the only viable solution is to cull them, for ethical, legal, public liability, administrative and health reasons.
Project ZOOXXI was born from the ideals of anonymous citizens – activists, animal rights campaigners, university students, scientists and teachers – who question these urban facilities we call “zoos” that are heirs to the historical tradition of the human domination of other animals.
For years, Barcelona has been open to the sea, but we need to renew this connection and teach the public that the seafront still has natural treasures that should be seen as assets to the city and its inhabitants.
Exotic animals are on the wrong end of either strong aversion or offensive greed from humans. But they suffer even more on account of their lack of recognition as vulnerable creatures and because they have nowhere they can call home.
A BioBlitz is a species identification exercise that takes place over twenty-four hours and is open to everyone. This method of bringing together professional scientists, naturalists and the general public is highly effective.
Almost half of Spanish homes have a pet, usually a cat or dog. We need to know how to prevent relationships that may have negative consequences and promote those that are beneficial to both humans and animals.
The future of the city must be built on three basic pillars: identity, cohesion and sustainability. Is it possible to build more humane cities?
More than half of humanity now lives in cities. Now that we’ve passed this key milestone in the global process that is turning the rural population into an urban one, it’s a good time to stop and think on the possibilities for life and coexistence in the major population centres.
Aside from sociological, cultural and demographic factors, we should be focusing on urban planning, housing and the property market as factors in social cohesion in the city or, to the contrary, in social segregation.
Talking about humane cities or cities with dignity puts us in the territory of the basic needs that must be guaranteed to the city’s inhabitants. It’s important to put people and groups centre-stage when working to achieve this goal.
When we speak of education, we are not only referring to teaching, but also to ways of living and of living together, to how time is spent, how newcomers are received, how noise is controlled, and so on.
Faced with a sense of unease at how globalisation is scraping away at the nation state, many people (even politicians from opposite ends of the spectrum) are once again looking to the city as a last hope for creativity, solidarity and identity-building.
Technological and administrative innovation can help to solve cities’ problems, but it’s not enough. We need to ensure that they are guided by innovation in values and social goals: not for private gain but for our collective welfare.
The competitive cycle in which thousands of cities around the world are immersed, consuming resources as though they were limitless, is unsustainable and goes beyond the ability of certain key variables in our ecosystems to guarantee the survival of the planet.
Barcelona’s municipal government is working on various ways to provide citizens with greater access to information on public affairs as the basis for boosting public involvement in their management. The establishment of the Office for Transparency and Good Practices, the Ethical mailbox and the Transparency web portal are some of the actions that have been taken for that purpose.
Society is demanding more democratic, transparent and participative government. A key factor in policies of transparency and good governance is giving the public access to the documents kept and managed by the public archives.
In this dossier we look at the pacifist movement from various perspectives. And we ponder the future and challenges Barcelona faces in this field. In a globalised world, city networks are cornerstones in the construction of peace.
The city has demonstrated that it lives by the value of peace very strongly and that it wants to preserve it. But there are still some clouds obscuring this view that will need to be removed over the coming months, aside from any future challenges we may face.