Agenda21 forum Sept 13th 2011


Agenda 21 seeks concrete proposals to improve local economy

Javea, Wednesday 14 September 2011-
On Tuesday the Department of Citizen Participation revived the Agenda 21 Forum, which began its debate on how to build a sound economic future for Javea. In this new phase, in which the goal is to mobilise the maximum number of citizens, various members of the Xàbia Idea business forum participated. In the coming weeks A21 hopes to include representatives from business associations, as well as all those citizens who have an interest and willingness to participate. The mayor José Chulvi, Cesc Camprubi, Councillor for Citizen Participation, and other members of the council such as Doris Courcelles, Juan Luis Cardona, Empar Bolufer and Pepa Chorro also attended the forum.

At Tuesday evening’s meeting the attendees were asked to identify the assets and strengths of Javea upon which to base the town’s economic future. Many agreed that the climate, landscape and potential for tourism were important assets, but that there was also a need to seek new business opportunities in order to avoid dependency on a single sector. After that, all those present discussed their personal vision of Javea in 2020, and the basic requirements needed to be covered, such as providing job skills for young people, improving communications both by road and internet, building a better integrated structure for the municipality, or exploiting agriculture, local heritage, and the social and cultural diversity of the more than 90 nationalities who co-exist in Javea.

Cesc Camprubi, Councillor for Citizen Participation, put forward the idea of marketing Javea to multinational firms as an ideal place to base their customer service centres, given the abundance of native speakers of all languages. However, it will not be until the next session later this month that concrete actions or projects that encourage a sustainable and idyllic economic future will be agreed upon. The Department reiterated that this forum of participation is the place to put forth all new ideas and opinions that will help to improve the municipality, thus the door remains open to new members.

Personal comments on above meeting by Chris Betterton-Jones

It was Groundhog day again, but this time there were quite a few new faces. We were all given a handout explaining what we were supposed to do. Handouts were available in English as well as Spanish, and we were able to discuss stuff in English… which is a step forward.

The title was a catchy:
"Deciding how and in what way participants wish Xàbia to develop economically with guarantees of sustainability."

We were asked to interview someone we didn't know very well.
Because of the language issue, us Brits ended up talking to people we knew already.

We were asked to ask each other what we thought Xàbia's strongest economic points were, and how these might favour economic activity. Then to think up three wishes to make economic development "satisfying"; Then there was a personal question about a moment in your life when you enjoyed economic or development success.
(I'm not sure what this was for, except to get people to reveal their murky past)

Then we formed groups (4) to summarise the opinions. The Brits formed a group with Dutch and Swiss participants, all fluent in English, as well as Cesc, who is multilingual. We were supposed to form a shared image of the economic future of Xabia.

Then each group presented its "dream" to the meeting as a whole, these to be put together to create a super-shared dream which will be circulated to everyone.

My Summary of the shared dream (or illusion) of the English speaking group

The economic focus should be on Tourism

A town with quality, high class tourism as its main economic engine, based around visiting tourists, who will increasingly be short stay, and "residential tourists" both retirees and economically active professionals who are able to manage their jobs remotely via the Internet.

A town which preserves the natural landscape as a core value, and which promotes small businesses and integrates the 3 urban centres so that they are complementary, with their own identities and not in competition with each other.

Tourism which is less seasonal, with off-season attractions. A town with a good communications infrastructure, both electronic (internet access) and physical (good transport links with the two international airports and high speed train, and good public transport). A town which makes use of its large multicultural community and modern technologies in the creation of jobs, taking care not to put all its eggs in the one (tourism) basket.

In summarising, we lost some important points, such as the need for a a better-educated, multilingual work force with good customer service skills (I might add marketing).

Other groups added the value of culture, the importance of distinguishing Xàbia from other places along the coast; aiming to be a "Slow city" type of place, Jávea as a secluded corner, gastronomy, improvement in public administration, the need for education and a career path for the young so they don't disappear etc.

Basically we all ended up with the same "dream", which is one which has been reiterated countless times by various Agenda21 forums, but which is now becoming more focused (by the economic crisis??)

Personally, I think we need to look at the whole, and how it might fit together to fit the tourism dream.

For example, agriculture. We know it is not economically viable as a sole source of income, but the agricultural landscape is one of the qualities which make this place so pleasant to visit and in which to live. Therefore agricultural/agribusiness initiatives must be promoted , even if this means trying new crops, new approaches to marketing, encouragement of market gardeners, small land owners forming sales and marketing companies. Fresh local veg promoted in local restaurants etc.

Similarly fishing (which no-one mentioned). The fishing quay is an integral part of the Port's character and very attractive to tourists. Fish stocks are dwindling, it's another industry on the decline. Perhaps the fishermen can be involved with helping to manage the Marine Reserve of the Cabo de San Antonio, so that the area acts as a nursery for sustainable fisheries. Perhaps this conservation area could be extended to incorporate the entire rocky Javea coastline. It may mean a change of mindset, but the fishermen need to mesh with tourism through the scuba diving and angling associations and businesses. If more of their catch were sold locally it could form the solid base of a gastronomic theme for Jávea restaurants.

Next Time

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