International award for Barcelona Markets

On Saturday, 28 March, Project for Public Spaces presented Barcelona with its Market City Award This event concluded the International Public Markets Conference held from 26 to 28 March, during which a declaration was issued on the opportunities markets offer for transforming cities.

Barcelona is a model market city. Such was the view expressed by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) members when they gave Catalonia's capital the 1st Market City Award on 28 March. This American organisation, which specialises in urban public space, regards Barcelona as "a model city in its use of markets as a tool for sustainable urban development, where people live a short distance from a market" and singled it out as a "city that champions public markets as essential tools for the revival of every neighbourhood.

Raimond Blasi, the Councillor for Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Markets and the Chairman of the Barcelona Municipal Markets Institute (IMMB), collected the award and said he felt "enormously proud that Barcelona is recognised for its work in support of the city's markets, work that has allowed us to become an international benchmark after more than twenty years' collaboration between market traders and Barcelona City Council".

The award ceremony concluded the 9th International Public Markets Conference, organised by PPS and Barcelona City Council through the IMMB, with backing from UN-Habitat, the United Nations' organisation for urban settlements.

The conference brought 425 attendees from 119 cities and 40 countries to the city. They issued a Final Declaration which highlighted how public markets were spaces that offered great opportunities for transforming cities and regions into prosperous, sustainable and socially cohesive places.

Capacity for creating links

The Final Declaration reflected on the accelerated pace of urban development in the 21st century and highlighted the capacity of markets to create links between rural and urban areas, as well as the boost they give to local and regional employment and economic development. It also included a pledge for public markets to serve as points linking urban and near-urban areas, promote exchanges between producers and consumers, and stimulate local and regional economic development.

According to this document, which you can support on this link, public markets are seen as essential centres for local food systems and, as such, provide consumers with fair access to an affordable range of food that must be preserved and protected. Markets also drive business and employment, as well as being meeting places where members of the community can relate.

Very different cases and situations

The main conclusion from the conference working sessions is that the word "market" conceals a range of situations and very diverse cases, because markets from countries as different as Nepal, Vietnam, the United States, Great Britain and Mozambique are not on the same level.

Participants were able to exchange experiences in sessions covering a range of topics including markets as engines of entrepreneurship, community meeting places, ensuring business opportunities, boosting health and strengthening local produce. The programme featured visits to various city markets as a practical way of demonstrating Barcelona's experience in such diverse areas as market modernisation, logistics and design, and architecture applied to markets.

There was also an opportunity for listening to ten representatives of countries as diverse as France, Colombia, Afghanistan, Hungary, Papua New Guinea and Morocco, who offered a panoramic view of markets and trends today. And, a final summary as well, where speakers such as Franco d'Alfonso, the Councillor for Commerce at Milan City Council, Salvatore Fundaró, an urban planner at UN Habitat Urban Planning and Liaison Branch, and Fred Kent, the founder and President of Project for Public Spaces, explained the next step in continuing to work for markets.

The sessions were also attended by representatives of the Barcelona Municipal Markets Institute, who explained the Catalan capital's experiences in a wide range of areas, such as entrepreneurship, a session Òscar Martín, the Head of Studies, took part in; promoting health, which Genís Arnàs, the Director of Market Services, was involved in; and public vs private management, which Jordi Torrades, the General Manager of IMMB, took part in.