The Residents of Javea are involved in its future

The residents of Xàbia are involved in its future

An account of Antonio Martinez second meeting with members of Agenda21 in June 2008. Translated from Xábia al Día, July 2008

Xàbia faces a major challenge over the coming years. That is, to define a model for the town which is desired by its inhabitants. The residents are the main protagonists, and are responsible for how it is going to evolve. This is an idea adopted by many residents who have been involved in the process of reflection and debate which the Department of Economic Development launched through a series of talks.

Antonio Martínez, an economist and director of the Strategic Plan for the future of Elche, has been hired to coordinate the preparation of a plan to draw up a model for the future of the town. A future which is wanted by all. In April he gave an inspirational talk about the importance of citizen participation in planning the future of towns. This talk was entitled "Xàbia and the challenges of its citizens: Strategic urban planning". Over three sessions, Martinez met with politicians, the Council of Tourism and Agenda 21 so as to canvass public opinion on the most positive and negative aspects of Xàbia and its assets.

To ensure our future, we must decide what it will be, together.

Martinez returned to Xàbia to emphasise that it was important that citizens participated in their town and assisted in the decision-making processes which determine their future. To address the challenge of local development is necessary to combine all points of view. There are no good or bad opinions, because everybody wants the best for their town and it should develop in all aspects.

The problem is that in a modern society there are many changes that affect the comfort and security of an individual. These may create an unpredictable and irrational state in the face of particular realities and trends, generating feelings of a mixture of fear, helplessness and anxiety, and lack of answers.

Rapid change creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, but the only way to face a guaranteed future is for the people and their leaders to be well informed about what is happening in the urban environment, to understand the reality and think about it.

It is imperative that decisions are taken jointly, and are not based solely on what a leader dictates. But it is also true that citizens who complain, and want responses from political leaders, should be prepared to change their own behaviour, since we are all responsible for what happens in our town. Any projection of the future must be decided upon by all social sectors of the city, not just by a few with specific interests.

In this country progress has destroyed much of our past, but this is a mistake.

Any project for the future must be based on what is already here, while respecting traditional values and historical sites. Positive aspects of the municipality should be enhanced, rather than inventing new realities which have nothing to do with the identity of the place. Why destroy that which we have to make progress? The employer must make progress, but never at the expense of the environment.

In other words, we are in a complex epoch, with many changes which force us to consider our future. But change also produces insecurity and fears that may lead to inadequate decision-making. To ensure that the best solution is adopted, decisions must involve the citizens together with politicians. The decisions should be based on real and complete information which enables us to know the true reality of the current situation.

As we make that decision, it must integrate the past into the future and never destroy the environment, which in the case of Xàbia, is its main asset.

The best thing about Xàbia is its Environment

In the most interactive part of the session, Martinez distributed some questionnaires upon which participants were asked to specify positive and negative aspects of Xàbia, as well as the assets which should be taken advantage of to face the future.

He then requested that some people spoke out about their views. Other participants, although they might not have been in agreement, were asked to should listen, because different opinions should add up rather than subtract from the discourse.

On the positive side, citizens said that Xàbia is a multicultural society, which has managed to maintain its roots, which lives in perfect harmony and in relative peace and security. In addition the javiense are people who are enterprising and adapt easily to new situations. And despite urban growth, Xàbia has achieved a development that has preserved the characteristics of its spectacular landscape and environment.

But Xàbia also has negative aspects.

To begin with, mobility is a big problem in a town that has more cars per capita than Valencia. Also urbanisation was criticized because in recent years it has been losing authentic characteristics, and has grown disproportionately.

And when it comes to doing things, the javienses do not think about their own welfare and that of their family or society, but only on those who "have yet to come", a kind of fantasy, a dream that never arrives. In addition, citizens do not participate much in their town, except when it hurts their pocket, and this society is not one in which people support one another.

It seems that the javienses lack self-esteem; they don't realize what their true value is.

They also suffer with high dropout rates in professional training and specialization, as well as education.

As for assets, everyone agreed that the landscape and environment are the prime values of the municipality, in addition to its multicultural richness.

Finally, another questionnaire was distributed to be filled out anonymously. This invited people to assess the level of the municipality's resources in diverse areas such as the existence of skilled and productive labour; if the entrepreneurial class is dynamic and enterprising; if the housing supply is of varying types and if there is a natural environment that offers significant assets and environmental values.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License