LETTER OF THE CITIES

THE URBAN LANDSCAPE CHARTER. THE SAO PAULO STATEMENT:

ª Jornada. 12 de junio de 2017. Auditorio de 9.00 - 11.00
The philosophy of the project begun in Barcelona 30 years ago was the point of reference for the First Congress. The main arguments and features are contained in the Charter of the Urban Landscape of Cities, adopted at the last session of the Congress in Sao Paulo, which contains the following statement. INTRODUCTION: This first Cityscape Congress feels indebted to fundamental previous initiatives that sought to achieve international commitment for the recovery of landscape values. In 1993 the Mediterranean Landscape Charter was signed in Seville; the Barcelona Urban Landscape Charter was signed in 1998. The European Landscape Convention was approved in Florence 2000. In 2010, the Brazilian Association of Landscape Architects presented the 12 principles of the Paisagem Brasileira Charter. 2012 witnessed the launching of the Latin American Landscape Initiative (LALI) in Colombia. All these actions have inspired the initiative that we present today, which aims to mobilize the public in favor of a better management of landscape use to improve the quality of civic life.                                             THE SAO PAULO MANIFESTO: CHARTER OF THE CITIES
For a citizens’ charter for the urban landscape. I. The landscape of cities is an open system that is continuously evolving and therefore requires treatment in accordance with their dynamic nature. II. The cityscape is made up by public spaces, the buildings surrounding them, open spaces (whether buildable or not) and all the natural or artificial elements that are about them or in their airspace. A clean and harmonious urban landscape that makes a city readable and expresses the self-esteem of the governing body and its citizens. III. The special geographic environment in which a city stands and the culture of its inhabitants characterizes the city’s image and identity that make up its landscape. IV. By its nature, the urban landscape is the extension of housing (collective housing), so it is an inalienable right that is inherent to it; it is not transferrable because it cannot be alienated; it is an imprescriptible right because it is permanent. V. The optimization of the harmonious, aesthetic and civic values that the urban landscape contains is heavily dependent on the use made of and the activities carried out in cities. Any alteration to the relationships between the elements that make up the landscape can lead to instability that adversely affects citizens’ quality of life. VI. The right to an urban landscape should be a right for all and accessible and applicable to all citizens. That is, the right to a harmonious landscape in which the ethics of aesthetics are given priority. When a city is contemplated, the aspects that are above all borne in mind are the functionality of public thoroughfares, buildings and all the amenities that make up the urban setting and which should be integrated and designed for the efficient performance of its functions. But their beauty and attractions must also be taken into account. The cult of beauty is part of human culture. VII. This pronounced sensitivity towards interventions on the landscape requires a comprehensive and integrated management of its possible uses, one that reconciles maintaining its balance with the performance of its socio-economic and cultural functions. Urban landscape management requires an open, transversal and collaborative approach that accompanies the natural evolution of the city, helping to integrate and consolidate its new signs of identity. VIII. The urban landscape is the result of public and private interventions on the city. These two sectors, which share responsibility for shaping the real city, must also share responsibility for its sustainability, maintenance and improvement. IX. The rules governing the use of the landscape should respect its dynamic nature, and should serve to rationalize the use of cities based on the value and identity of the landscape. Their main purpose should be to preserve, protect and reconcile the citizens’ collective right to enjoy a harmonious landscape without interfering with individuals’ right to use it in their own interests as long as the intensity of this use does not put its harmony at risk. X. An effort must be made to adapt to the new paradigms of cities, to new materials, to the new technologies, as well as to the natural evolution of citizens’ aesthetics and habits.
In accordance with what has been stated: 1. We believe that the urban landscape is an essential feature in the shared living environment of our cities that deserves special attention and protection. The major problem in cities does not lie in the lack of planning, but rather in the lack of any change in people’s behavior in relation to the environment they live in and share. 2. We believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values of the urban landscape affect key aspects of urban life. 3. Seen from this viewpoint, the cityscape has an impact on various aspects of our daily life that affect the quality of life, such as health, education and welfare, which must be safeguarded... 4. The urban landscape should bring out and highlight the natural and cultural heritage that guarantees the identity of each city and tells its history. 5. We believe that the erosion of cities by the intensive use of the landscape should bring about a direct benefit for the community through tangible improvements in the landscape itself. 6 We urge governing bodies to act to improve the landscape and ensure its harmonious arrangement, promoting the safety and livability of cities, as well as promoting the citizens’ obligations and rights. 7. We consider the active participation of citizens to be essential for maintaining the elements that make up the visible structure of the city, and for exercising the rights relating to urban landscape preservation. 8. We request that local governments should provide specific instruments for the broadly-based management of the urban landscape and should lay down individual and collective responsibilities, both  public and private, so as to enhance the quality of life in and of the city. 9. We appeal to the different political and institutional leaders who advocate joining forces to work together for a more livable and more human city, overcoming vested interests on behalf of the common objective of improving shared living conditions in urban environments and spaces. 10. We understand that the urban landscape is above all a meeting of citizens, which brings together urban planning and civility; as a consequence, by means of this last point we establish a Digital Agora open to the participation of the citizens of the world. We look forward to receiving their contributions, which will undoubtedly enrich the process. Sao Paulo, December 8, 2015
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