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Davos Baukultur Alliance delegates. Photo credit: Davos Baukultur Alliance

‘ECTP-CEU takes part in meeting of Davos Baukultur Alliance in Switzerland’

Janet Askew, President of the ECTP-CEU had the privilege of attending a meeting of the Davos Baukultur Alliance in January in Switzerland.

The ECTP-CEU found itself in esteemed company to discuss vital issues so important to spatial planners. Ministers of 31 countries, along with civil society organisations (NGOs and IGOs) and major construction and real estate companies met in Davos on the eve of the World Economic Forum. The ECTP-CEU sat alongside other IGOs, including ACE (architects), ICOMOS (ancient monuments), Europa Nostra (historic environments), IFLA (landscape architects), ICCROM (cultural heritage), INGO (group of all IGOs who are members of the Council of Europe), UN-Habitat and more. The president was able to liaise with European-wide organisations at the meeting and we were certainly promoting similar agendas.

What is the Davos Baukultur Alliance?

In 2018, the Swiss Government initiated the Davos Baukultur Alliance, to promote the (German) concept of Baukultur. The first meeting as held in 2018 in Davos alongside the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) when a declaration was made to ncourage politicians, businesses, and civil society to work together to meet the objectives of Baukultur. The 2018 Declaration conforms to our own ECTP-CEU Charters of European Planning and Participatory Democracy. In short, it demands that culture in its widest possible definition, enables and drives economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It emphasises the common good; it embraces all human activity; it adopts an adaptive approach which builds on social cohesion and health and well-being; it requires high quality design of cities, rural areas, infrastructure as well as individual buildings and spaces; and it promotes an inclusive and cohesive society, counteracts discrimination, and promotes civic awareness. Fundamentally, it is about ensuring high quality in the built and rural environments.

Whilst Baukultur is largely a German concept, one aim of the Davos Baukultur Alliance is to adopt this term for all European countries. Its objectives are fully compliant with the planners of Europe, represented by the ECTP-CEU.

The aim in meeting in Davos was to influence the WEF to adopt the principles of the new Alliance, and to this end, the Chair of the WEF, Mr Klaus Schwab attended the conference to hear of our ambitions. The participants signed the Founding Act of the Alliance which refers to the eight criteria for high quality Baukultur: 1. Governance; 2. Functionality; 3. Environment; 4. Economy; 5. Diversity; 6. Context; 7. Sense of Place; and 8. Beauty.

For more information about the history and most recent decisions see the Davos Declaration

The meeting was also honoured to welcome the Minister of Culture of Ukraine amongst its participants.  Miss Anastasia Bondar assisted the group in signing a statement condemning the military aggression by Russia against Ukraine.  It also urged ministers of all countries to adopt the principles of Baukultur in the re-building of Ukraine after the war.

The ECTP-CEU will continue to represent the planners of Europe in the future activities of the Davos Baukultur Alliance.

‘Speech of ECTP-CEU President at meeting of Davos Baukultur Alliance’

Janet Askew, President of ECTP-CEU gave the following speech at the meeting of the Davos Baukultur Alliance in Switzerland in January 2023.

The European Council of Spatial Planners (ECTP-CEU) represents planners across Europe. We are an umbrella organisation to which professional planners from the 46 countries of the Council of Europe are eligible to belong. We promote spatial planning as a distinct profession, and our Charter of European Planning distinguishes planners by our commitment to, and empowerment of citizens in the planning of their own communities.  

Despite differences in our laws, planning systems and approaches, the principles of good planning, like good governance, are universal. Many of the greatest issues we face are ubiquitous to all countries, and planning is crucial to their resolution. We recognise that we must work in multi-disciplinary teams to achieve the aims of something as ambitious as the Davos Baukultur Alliance. It is of utmost importance that the signatories to the Davos Alliance Founding Act unite behind its goals to persuade and influence all stakeholders of the benefits of high quality Baukultur in its widest definition. 

We recognise that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainability. If culture is to embrace all human activity, our Charter of Participatory Democracy in Spatial Planning must be given priority in policy-making and its implementation, building, and in the conservation of heritage. The European Council of Spatial Planners advocates protection of our European democratic aspirations and the participation of communities in public life at all levels – national, regional, and local – which is crucial to the legitimacy of decision-making. This assumes even greater importance with the war in Ukraine. We express our solidarity with all our Ukrainian colleagues, and we wholeheartedly support the joint statement on Ukraine from this conference.

The ECTP-CEU endorses the principles and objectives of the Founding Act of the Davos Baukultur Alliance and congratulates the Alliance for its efforts in producing this impressive document. By participating in the Davos Baukultur Alliance, we are calling upon the public and private sectors and civil society to work together to respond and adapt to the needs of all people to create an inclusive society in which everyone can expect a decent way of life in high quality built and natural environments.