Active local Europe : ‘’A bottom-up network to help cities and municipalities get in touch and learn from each other’’
The PACTE workshop, organised in Brussels on 27 September was the opportunity to exchange a few words with Philippe De Witte, coordinator of the Active Local Europe project, regarding how this initiative aims at creating a network to connect European cities and municipalities and the potential links to the PACTE project.
2019, November 06th
Can you tell us more about the project you’re leading in Europe, how and why did this initiative come to your mind ?
A few years ago following up the press, I realized, that an important number of people did not feel connected to society anymore, so we launched this project to solve this issue while trying to connect cities and municipalities to each other. As we have been involved with cities and municipalities over the past ten years and also with the sport movement, we thought we could do something about it. When the European Parliament launched a pilot project on promoting physical activity at local level, we submitted a proposal and got selected. What we want to achieve in this project is to help cities and municipalities to get in touch with and learn from each other on any good example there is on the thousands of topics they are involved with, whether they are social, economic or health related.
Did you identify a lack in this domain before your project ?
We can see that for more than a hundred years European networks in the field of sport like the European sport federations do exist. They can be “unisport” or multisport just like TAFISA, ISCA, ENGSO, Sport & Citizenship, etc. For cities and municipalities however, there was no such entity which serves as a European network to create opportunities for cities and municipalities to learn from each other and to provide their citizens larger opportunities to lead a better life: to be healthy and happy with a feeling of belonging.
What role do you think cities and municipalities can play in the field of active mobility ?
According to statistics and studies, there is a very reduced number of people that are interested in taking part in sport in its competitive form. A majority however are doing physical activity because it’s fun, because they can be with their friends, because they think they’ll feel healthier or want to look better. Therefore, as a city or municipality you don’t want to focus only on competitive sport, but also invest so that everybody is able to be physically active, especially those who are not active yet. You want to give them opportunities to be physically active because we learned that if you’re more active you will feel more connected to other people and feel healthier. Therefore, cities and municipalities invest in physical activity, and why it is important that they learn what has worked or not, what is replicable or not. Active Local Europe is not a lobbying agency at the European level but a bottom-up network with a focus on helping cities and municipalities. Therefore, we will build an e-platform to connect cities and municipalities and enable them to learn good lessons from each other.
How do you think initiatives like PACTE project and yours could coordinate to make their actions more efficient ?
At Active local Europe we are very happy with what Sport and Citizenship does on active citizens with the PACTE project as well as similar initiatives (TAFISA’s Global Active City initiative or ISCA’s Open Streets and Movement Places’ project). In our opinion, cities and municipalities are very important stakeholders in the field of movement and sport. At the social level, as health promoters and economically as investors: in swimming pools, soccer fields, parks facilitating activities. Indeed, the economic investments made by them in these infrastructures are way larger than the investments made by sports federations. Therefore, we think that initiatives like the PACTE project are really positive because they are focused on cities and municipalities. During the PACTE project’s workshop on active mobility in Brussels, I’ve seen people from Hamburg, from Liverpool or from Madrid exchange ideas I never heard about and I really think it’s positive for everyone to share ideas and good practices in the framework of a project like PACTE