The 4th Forum of Local Authorities of Porto Alegre was launched in Barcelona on Friday with over a thousand mayors attending from around the world.The delegates were welcomed by Mayor Joan Clos of Barcelona, on the eve of the opening of the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona May 9 to 27 September. In his welcoming address, Mayor Joan Clos reminded the mayors and representatives of local authorities of their commitment to overcoming the problems caused by rampant globalisation and the unregulated forces of the market place. Instead he called for inclusive cities that could be places which honoured the democratic and cultural right of every citizen to his city.
In her opening address, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka reinforced this message, pointing out that global economic competition had increased the marginalisation of vulnerable groups and social exclusion had to be addressed at every level. She emphasized the plight of the one billion poor already living in slums and squatter settlements warning that if the world continued with ´business as usual´, by 2030, the figure could double to 2 billion.
The Mayor of the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, made an impassioned plea for culturally diverse cities and, at a time of increasing international conflict, he called on his colleagues to find ways of ensuring peaceful cities that included people from all ethnic groups and all walks of life. He argued that there was as much of a need for cultural diversity as there was a need for biological diversity but the world was in danger of excluding local cultural priorities in pursuit of global finance and investment.
The call for inclusive cities was supported by all the speakers at the opening ceremony. Mr. Pierre Sane, UNESCO´s Assistant Director-General for Social Human Sciences, committed his organization to furthering the cause of social inclusion.
This 4th meeting of the Forum of Local Authorities of Porto Alegre follows on from commitments made at the 1st Forum of Local Authorities for Social Inclusion at the 1st World Social Forum in Porto Algre in January 2001. Concerned about the serious problems of social exclusion being generated by globalisation, local authority representatives committed themselves to work towards greater social inclusion.
The meeting which took place from 7-8 May concluded with a declaration calling for a commitment to peace and inclusiveness in a world beset by war and conflict. It also called for local authorities to find ways to overcome the economic hardships caused by an unregulated market place.