With Barcelona's designation as the first ever European Capital of Democracy in 2023/24, BABLE Smart Cities, the facilitator of Smart Cities in Europe, has joined forces with El Pla Estratègic Metropolità de Barcelona (PEMB) to reinforce the city's urban development ambitions. PEMB, the private non-profit association – promoted by Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area – presided over by the president of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) was created in 1988 to identify and promote, together with the public and private agents operating in the territory, strategies to support the economic and social development of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.
On 6 November, this pioneering event convened a diverse group of experts at the Canòdrom – The Center for Digital and Democratic Innovation in Barcelona. City representatives, networks, clusters, and esteemed partners from Europe and Latin America came together for this groundbreaking occasion, centring on participatory processes and stakeholder engagement. Emphasising the 2030 Metropolitan Strategy of the Barcelona Region, the Metropolitan Commitment 2030, participants collaboratively worked towards shaping new ideas on how to engage with four major stakeholder groups: citizens, cities, academia, and businesses.
The agenda kicked off with an insightful presentation on "How to foster participation at the metropolitan level," led by Oriol Estela Barnet, General Coordinator of PEMB. Oriol introduced us the concept of "what is metropolitan," highlighting its expansion beyond city limits and the diverse stakeholders included. He emphasised that "the most important thing is the people" and guided us through the history and process stages of PEMB.
Following PEMB’s presentation, Oriol Illa, the Director of the International and Digital Metropolis Department at AMB, took the stage. He emphasised the significance of the Metropolitan Area , underscoring the challenges and complexities inherent in cooperation among various municipalities and stakeholders. He noted that the Metropolitan Dialogue aims to generate innovative ideas, solutions, shared experiences, and knowledge, emphasising collaboration among governments and social actors with common goals.
Rosa Arlene Maria, Executive Director at CIDEU, shared insights gained over 30 years on how strategic planning empowers participation and fosters the co-creation of cities and metropolises, focusing on four key objectives: incorporating diverse perspectives, embracing the quadruple helix, generating consensus, and bringing people together.
Erol Ozguner, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, provided insight into Istanbul's challenges in managing its sprawling population, showcasing the city's dedication to investing in technology with a focus on digital inclusivity, civic innovation, artificial intelligence, and a connected civic platform in a single app.
After the guest speakers, “The Idea Marketplace” participants were split into their respective groups, where a rich tapestry of ideas, experiences, perspectives, challenges, and needs were explored from the vantage points of citizens, cities, academia, and businesses. The groups were thoughtfully organised to eliminate any barriers, including language, ensuring that participants could freely exchange success stories and collaboratively brainstorm innovative concepts for citizen and stakeholder engagement.
The event then transitioned to sharing the main takeaways of the "Idea Marketplace," a dynamic forum fostering the exchange of ideas, experiences, and challenges from citizens, cities, academia, and businesses. The goal was to cultivate a vibrant marketplace of promising ideas, advancing engagement and democracy for a more inclusive community.
A surprise interactive session followed – “The Puzzle of the Metropolis” – immersing participants in the intricacies of metropolitan management through puzzle-solving, teamwork, and creative thinking. The session revolved around the storyline of a hypothetical cyber-attack on Barcelona, again emphasising collaboration across citizen, business, city, and academia groups to solve a problem.
The event ended with closing remarks from BABLE Smart Cities’ CEO Alexander Schmidt, Angela Precht, general coordinator of the European Capital of Democracy and the General Director of PEMB, Oriol Estela Barnet who closed with noting how amazing the outcome of bringing together such diverse people from so many different places and profiles in one place to create many ideas was the biggest highlight of all.
For media inquiries and further information, please contact:
About BABLE: BABLE Smart Cities is Europe's leading facilitator for Smart and Climate-Neutral Cities, born as a spin-off from Fraunhofer Research Society. With a decade of experience in the field, it offers practical insights gained by practitioners, for practitioners. Its mission is to accelerate change in the public and private sectors by providing market access and knowledge. BABLE has facilitated over €2Billion in Smart City projects with cities, towns, and regions. The BABLE free knowledge hub connects innovators and the public sector, providing access to the most comprehensive Smart City datasets and insights in Europe. To learn more about BABLE, visit www.bable-smartcities.eu
About PEMB: The Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan (PEMB) is a private non-profit association - promoted by the Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area - chaired by the president of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB). PEMB is an instrument to identify the needs and potential of the territory in the medium term, to foresee trends and threats and to make proposals to face the future in the best conditions. To learn more about PEMB, visit https://pemb.cat/
More information about the other partners can be found on their websites: