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07 / 05 / 2004
Local government representatives gathered at the Forum declare their conviction that another world is possible

Participants in the Forum of Local Authorities (FLA), which is taking place today in association with Forum Barcelona 2004, have agreed to define the Agenda 21 in terms of culture. It is anticipated that Agenda 21 will be approved at the final stage of the Forum Dialogue, as an indispensible means by which to gain the cultural freedom at local level for achieving results that are otherwise not possible at national level.

“It is necessary to see where governments and states have gone wrong. Perhaps because they are founded on the logic of state authority, where the human aspect is ignored.” With these words the mayor of Porto Alegre, Joao Verle, expressed the common sentiments of the speakers who participated in this morning´s press conference convened to mark the Fourth Porto Alegre Forum of Local Authorities in association with the second of the Forum Dialogues. The FLA event is taking place today and tomorrow in the Barcelona Convention Center.

Verle added : “local authorities can adopt a more practical and human approach than can state authorities”, and for this reason it is necessary to take into account their opinion in order to find solutions to problems such as those posed by globalisation.

In this context the mayor of Buenos Aires, Aníbal Ibarra, warned that globalisation posed risks “of being wiped off the map” and that, in consequence, local administrations must ensure their own representation on the world stage.

As a consequence of following a common driving force, the co-ordinator of the Municipal Development Partnership from Benin, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, said that local authorities will be able to preserve their identities. In his opinion, “from a starting point at local level complete changes can be made¨. He emphasized that this initial idea would help to find the means to construct a credible alternative.

For his part, Yves Cabannes, consultant on Latin America and the Caribbean to the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), has stressed that ¨”from the local level it is possible to take the direction that will lead to another world”. Cabannes added that one of the missions of local authorities is “to provide information to citizens so they can bring pressure to bear in situations of conflict”, and he put forward the example of the recent denunciation of the torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

Lastly, the director general of culture from Montevideo, Gonzalo Carámbula, pointed out that “no participation is possible without cultural freedom of expression, and that “Agenda 21 may be approved in association with the Forum and be converted into an indispensible tool for making a world stage that guarantees the participation of all its citizens”.