In the framework of the reflection on economical, social, environmental and symbolical problems in the blue grid, launched by the Municipal Commission for Puebla Urban Development and Environment, a second international mission have been organized, at the will of the City Hall. The INTA had, during the first mission, identified the success factors for the City of Puebla Urban Plan, in April 2016 (see publication). This second mission aimed to coproduce urban and landscape answers, for the regeneration and development of shoreline and nearby land.
This panel is a part of the INTA Initiative Act 2 - Cities and territories in transformation, and was held on 25-30 June 2017.
The development potential for the City of Puebla, over 1.260m above the sea level, and with a population of around 1.6 millions inhabitants, is closely linked to its ecological structure, and especially to water, with the Atoyac river (running water in Náhuatl). Water is a transversal element on the territory, allowing the city and neighboring urbanizations from Puebla metropolitan area to connect.
The urban spread of the metropolitan region and the concentration of industrial activities have severely damaged the aquatic system. There was no action for river protection, or for its enhancement as a structural element for the territory. The pollution is especially damaging the Atoyac: the river is full of industrial waste. It has become not only and environmental, but also an economical and social problem.
This situation has gotten worse until today, and is the cause of several problems linked to the management of resources (especially with drought), the access for everyone to water, the quality of drinkable water, the protection of springs, the sanitation of used water in urban places, recycling, industrial decontamination… Facing this situation, the Puebla City Hall took the decision to take up the challenge and overthrow the situation, by initiating a process of urban recuperation, in the aim to build a sustainable territory.
It is necessary to change perspectives and to use the river as a revitalization source for environment. The need for changes is however contradicted with preconditions brought by industry, government and municipality, but also by Puebla inhabitants. Nobody can resolve the problem by themselves, either due to a lack of resources, or a lack of authority.
INTA proposed a method based on the coproduction of urban solutions, derived from a collaborative space where the main value is experience and professionals competences of our members, among a collectivity, city or region. The members of the mission and our partners from Puebla City Hall established together the main axis of the intended strategy that would allow an accommodation of all the interest, to achieve the mission. It means to transform this ecological problem into a picture and an economical problem, shared by all the stakeholders.
The strategy have been centered on the following points :
- Allow population participation through a project alongside the river (leisure, parks, restaurants, coffee shops…)
- Raise awareness with an awareness campaign on water pollution (universities, researchers, public actors and local government, publication of open data...)
- Work with all the government levels (cities, metropolises, State, federal state) depending on their strategic objectives, their rules and their law (urbanism, fiscal, subsidies, environment, infrastructures…)
- Involve industry and change to environment problem into a picture and economic problem (the river is not as loss, but an asset)
- Finding public and private organizations that could be interested into supporting the decontamination and revitalization program, in the framework of their strategy to enhance invested capital: property opportunities for potential investors, creation of added value for their assets…
- Create a cultural value that include the river in the city landscape (festival on the banks, reintroduction of public spaces)
The Goal for Puebla City Hall, with this mission, is to integrate the river, and the blue grid more generally, to ensure an economic, social and environmental sustainability. This blue grid should have an ecological role, by contributing the the quality of natural landscape and environment (water, air and soil quality), and should reconcile the city with nature. It also plays an urban role, with the articulation of, on one hand, districts on each side of the river, and, on the other hand, the river as a public space to be shared, and its contributing to reinforce public spaces, green and blue.
The revitalization program of the Atoyac river have 3 goals: taking into account that the river revitalization is a first step for a sustainable, responsible and healthy city, that can then be more productive and secure, revitalizing the river to bring pride to the city, and encourage social cohesion.
The mission had 5 phases:
- Phase 1: technical visit, so as to see directly all the dimensions of the problem. The visit included a presentation from the project managers
- Phase 2: receipt of the mission mandate from the authorities. Presentation of the subject and of the questions that missions members had to resolve
- Phase 3: interviews/hearings and participative workshop, with the main territorial actors and representatives of the organizations involved with the project
- Phase 4: internal work and writing of the synthesis and the conclusions
- Phase 5: Public presentation and discussion of conclusions with the authorities and territorial actors
The coproduction method ensure the transfer and knowledge appropriation, while reinforcing the position of actors in the negotiation for the territorial project.
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