Government of the Brussels-Capital Region

State Secretary of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Urbanism 
and Heritage, European and International Relations - Chair WPC 58

We have to recognize that one of the biggest mistakes that human mankind has made was allowing cars massively in a city environment. Public space invites people to meet and interact. Human activity should flourish in cities. These meetings generate cultural interactions, creativity, economic and social activity. Public space cannot reveal this potential if it is dominated by cars. Unfortunately, in many cities in the world it is still a reality today.

Urban regions are now transforming their urban areas. They are giving space back to the population and providing better accessibility to green public spaces and meeting places, within walking distance and linked in a wider network, resilient and with good air quality. We are making our wealthy cities healthy again. 

Since the last two decades, cities all over the world have been working hard to transform their public spaces in order to give them back to their residents, especially by providing less space for cars and more for pedestrians, cyclists, individuals. Following the COVID-19 crisis, there were significantly more initiatives in cities worldwide. The pandemic reminded us of the human need for social interaction, and that is precisely the basic function of the city: to be a place where people can easily meet. Just as the living room is the heart of our home, public space is the essence of a good urban environment, where people live, enjoy meeting each other and are active. A place where they feel healthy, secure and confident. Public spaces must be (re)designed as an invitation to interact with others.

As a believer in international city networks, I am proud that we can welcome you in Brussels for the 58th edition of ISOCARP, because we will only succeed in these challenges for our cities if we tackle them together.

Brussels is the capital of Europe, but Brussels is also a laboratory for Europe and the rest of the world. It's a city of minorities, without any dominant culture and in which artists feel at home. I hope you can discover and experience Brussels. This city is not easily definable and is not likely to be loved at first sight. But we all know love at first sight often doesn't last. Brussels is a city with scars that only make it more attractive, it is cosmopolitan, open and filled with pride for its future. This open and positive philosophy is now more and more reflected in our architecture and our public space. 

I hope and I think ISOCARP and Brussels will inspire you to keep creating cities for people together!

Minister-President of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, 
responsible for Urban Development and Urban Renewal

"Hosting an international Congress on healthy cities is, in light of the current housing crisis, symbolically very important. The city of the future is the one where neighbourhoods can breathe. A full urban life starts with access to affordable and healthy housing for all."

Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Climate Change, Environment, Energy, Participatory Democracy and Health

As Minister of Climate Transition, Environment, Social matters and Health, I deeply believe that cities have to be healthy and to provide well-being. However, health is not just about the provision of care, it is also very important to have a varied range of services accessible to all, in all neighborhoods. A healthy city is first and foremost a city which guarantees a healthy living environment to all its inhabitants and users. A green city where we breathe a clean air because it has been freed from its dependence on fossil fuels, which causes actually 7 millions of premature deaths per year, according to the WHO. We have seen it among others with the Covid-19 pandemic: the climate change threatens our health. Around the world, zoonotic diseases, floods and heat waves are rising. To build healthy cities, we thus have to act urgently against climate change. Therefore the Brussels region has set itself the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and is redesigning its territory in that sense to ensure a liveable future for all living species as the future of mankind is inextricably linked to the preservation of biodiversity.

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