Here's how Moraira did it

Teulada-Moraira, an Ayuntamiento of the future

translated from the original feature in the July 2005 edition of Xàbia al Día
by kind permission of the Managing Editor, Guiomar Ramirez-Montesinos

If there is anything drawing attention to Teulada-Moraira in recent years, it is the fact one only reads positive news in Press reports about the municipality:

  • Green Flag (2001-2004) a distinction given by the Ministry of Health and the Consumer to those towns with “sustainability”
  • National Award for the treatment of Solid Wastes (2003)
  • Ecomed Prize for the “Sustainable City” (2003)
  • Gold and Silver Broom for the cleanest Municipality
  • First to develop the system of alerts by mobile phone, a service which not only provides alerts, but also announcements of general and cultural events, as well as announcements from the Ayuntamiento
  • Pioneers in the development of the Agenda 21 in Alicante Province
  • First to put a brake on building development, to protect more that 60% of the municipality in its latest revision of its Town Plan (PGOU), and to prohibit construction along the immediate shore line of Moraira
  • Improvements and modernization of the entrances to Moraira and Teulada……and so on and so forth

All that without forgetting social programmes and projects, such as those for drug addicts and the elderly.

Accustomed as we are in Xàbia al Día to hearing talk about confrontation, corruption, disagreements, insults and infamy, we wished to discover the secret weapon of our coastal municipal neighbour, so similar to Jávea, but with only half its population. The answer was surprisingly simple: the Local Agenda 21 and an Alcalde (Mayor), José Ciscar, who firmly believes in it.

Ciscar became Mayor of Teulada-Moraira in 1999, with a clear vision of a municipality which should pay due attention to the requirements, as much as for those of its residents as for those of its tourists, which resulted in the key importance of developing projects aimed at improving services and infrastructure. This task was not going to be that easy with widely separated centres of population, interspersed with many urbanizations. The tool chosen to address this challenge was Agenda 21.

The first thing that Ciscar made clear was this work should involve everyone. An Ayuntamiento does not function as a collection of individuals that try to be acknowledged through its name, but more as a group of persons that form a team-including the opposition- with the common aim of managing the resources of the town in the best possible way, for which it is essential to know at first hand the requirements and potential of the municipality. Agenda 21 is an element for cohesion, and an instrument that facilitates communication and the work of the Ayuntamiento.

The Local Agenda 21 of Teulada Moraira

The concept of Agenda 21 was born in the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that took place in 1992. It arose from the observation that the current pace of development in the first world would become unsustainable in the long term, because at that rate we are committed to overload our environmental, social, cultural and economic resources. If the growh of a municipality is excessive in its numbers and size, it can no longer maintain the quality of its land, the services for its citizens, its economy, at a level that allows all its citizens,…and those of its future maintain their quality of life.

The key is sustainability. Sustainable development is that which allows us to satisfy our needs without prejudice to the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs. Sustainability can be considered in three different areas:

  • 1. Eco-environmental Sustainability: guarantees that development is compatible with the maintenance of essential ecological processes, of bio-diversity and of biological resources.
  • 2. Social and Cultural Sustainability: guarantees that development increases the control of people over their own lives, that is compatible with the common culture and values and maintains and reinforces the identity of the community.
  • 3. Economic Sustainability: guarantees that economic activity is conducted in an efficient manner, taking rational advantage of resources, so that income from the economy can be distributed in a correct way between businesses, the citizens and the local administration, and that this should happen both now and in the future.

Agenda 21- for the 21st century- emerged from this philosophy, consisting of an agenda of actions to be undertaken to avoid unsustainablility in current world development.

From this earth summit the maxim also emerged: “think globally and act locally.” That is to say, if everyone acts in their home, as they would wish everyone in the world else to do likewise, then the sum total of all actions will improve the world. Or in other words, in order to improve one’s surroundings, one has first to improve things oneself-in this case, in one’s own part of town and one’s own municipality. Thus, Local Agenda 21.

Teulada-Moraira set in train its Local Agenda 21 in 1999 with the preparation of an environmental, social and economic audit that would form the basis of the following development of the Agenda 21 process. In 2000, the Ayuntamiento signed up to the Aalborg letter, by means of which it undertook to roll out the Local Agenda 21 in the municipality.

A little more than three years later, just before the local elections, the Ayuntamientoapproved an action plan designed with citizens’ participation- and on which all the parties based their electoral manifestos. Citizens’ participation is essential, as only by means of a total perspective- that combining the vision of greatest possible number of people- can the possibility exist to determine the criteria for sustainability.

The Action Plan for Local Agenda 21 for Teulada-Moraira

The three areas of sustainability considered previously each have three qualifying factors, that is to say, a total of nine.

  • Eco-environmental Sustainability: resources, biodiversity and processes.
  • Social and Cultural Sustainability: cultural compatibility,community identity, personal autonomy
  • Economic Sustainability: capacity to maintain the activity, efficiency and economic impact

Each qualifying factor has one or two indicators for sustainability. For example, the qualifying factors for personal autonomy have as indicators individual security and specific services.

Examination against these indicators- by the Local Agenda 21 watchdog committee-permits evaluation of development action plans to see if these comply with sustainability, or whether they require modification.

In the same way, for each qualifying factor a strategic line develops. For example, for the qualifying factor of personal autonomy, this evolves into improving the personal autonomy of the citixens. And in accordance with this line Action Programmes are initiated- which is the aforesaid Local Agenda 21.

The programmes that Teulada-Moraira wants to develop on this strategic line are.

  • 1. Creation and optimization of infrastructures;
  • 2. Organization of meetings, and integrating activities, training and employment;
  • 3. Services for health care and welfare;
  • 4. Security for citizens;
  • 5. Availability of public, and ecological, transport;
  • 6. Development of training programmes;
  • 7. Empowerment of women’s rights.

Another example. So as to achieve eco-environmental sustainability, the Upkeep of Processes is one of the qualifying factors. This is measured against the following indicators:

Agricultural land being used for agricultural activities and the proper such use of this land. The strategic line consists in maintaining these processes, while maintaining biodiversity and makes rational use of natural resources. Thus, the action programmes proposed are:

  • 1. Land regulation/ proper enforcement
  • 2. Environmental dangers
  • 3. Environmental participation, education and information
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