PACTE’s final conference
Become an Active City! Unveiling the PACTE project’s Matrix for Change
On November 26 2020, Sport and Citizenship Think tank organised the last conference of the PACTE project through an online format. With a transversal and cross-sectoral approach, PACTE devoted itself to enabling European municipalities to become an Active City by promoting sport and physical activity at local level.
Sedentarism has been an invisible pandemic steadily taking hold of our modern lifestyles for decades. While the sport and physical activity sector has been flagging this issue for years, it took a global pandemic to gain serious political and public understanding of the health and socioeconomic consequences of sedentarism. Covid19, and consequent restrictions, have shed light on citizens’ unequal access to healthy lifestyles. To tackle this impellent issue, PACTE’s last conference shared the project’s findings, lessons learnt and launched its most ambitious deliverable, the Matrix for Change for Active Cities.
The conference started with Laurent Thieule (President, Sport and Citizenship) who recalled the PACTE project’s objectives, activities, and philosophy. Secondly, Detlef Dumon (Executive Director, ICSSPE) presented the main findings of PACTE’s European-wide representative survey. Laurent Thieule then took back the floor to unveil the Matrix for Change for the very first time.
The Matrix, as a transversal and user-friendly tool created specifically for local authorities, will help them address real issues and bridge existing gaps. The Matrix provides holistic solutions to decrease sedentary levels and guides municipalities to further develop, or start, their Active City Action Plans through four settings: Active City, Active School, Active Mobility, and Active Workplace.
A panel discussion focusing on the need for a cross-sectoral promotion of sport and physical activity at local level. Moderated by Laurent Thieule the panel included five esteemed speakers providing different perceptions and experiences of the Active City concept, and complementary understandings of the need for a cross-sectoral promotion of sport and physical activity (SPA) at local level. Panellists included project partners Froso CHRISTOFIDES (European Cyclists’ Federation), Jean-François LAURENT (TAFISA), and Nicky YATES (Liverpool City Council); alongside two external representatives Michael GROSS (Evaleo Association) and Paula NOGUEIRA (Guimaraes municipality).
The concept of Active City has never been as relevant as it is today. At the forefront of the numerous challenges imposed by confinements, municipalities have acknowledged the necessity to redesign urban environments in a way that promotes and enables human movement. Moreover, cross-sectoral and multilevel partnerships have become paramount to achieve concrete changes towards the “Active City concept”: these are the main subjects addressed in the panel discussion.
Roland Farkas (Sport Unit, European Commission) provided some institutional insight by contextualising PACTE and the Matrix for Change within the institutional framework of the SHARE initiative as a platform that aims to mainstream sport and physical activity into regional and local development. Finally keynote speaker William Norman, London’s first Walking and Cycling Commissioner, stressed the importance of redesigning a city for citizens rather than cars. This idea must be embedded into the transport strategy and encourage people walking and cycling becomes a cornerstone in London’s philosophy. To conclude, he underlined the role of PACTE in putting forward possible and concrete solutions to make cities more active.
In the final analysis, the conference gave participants interesting insights on the role of physical activity at municipal level which could be summarised by the following takeaways:
- Bringing stakeholders together and creating holistic strategies that encompasses variegate areas are crucial to achieving results at municipal level and becoming an Active City
- The Covid19 pandemic has brought problems as well as opportunities for the sport and physical activity sector in Europe: the level of awareness of political leaders, who are now convinced of the role of physical activity for the wellbeing of individuals, has significantly increased due to the pandemic
- The pandemic has been a catalyst for physical activity since numerous cities have proactively promoted projects and activities that foster participation and movement at municipal level
- Alliances and cross-sectoral partnerships are paramount since enabling stakeholders “to cooperate with each other to find common grounds that are then translated into common goals within a comprehensive strategy” as Michael Gross underlined.
- As Will Norman stated, PACTE represents a unicum in the European panorama since it provides a theoretical approach linked to practical examples and solutions. Thus, this combination leads to a real change towards the Active City’s concept and make PACTE an indispensable tool to becoming an Active City.
- The Matrix for Change is fundamental to include and raise awareness on specific topics that otherwise would not be considered as important as others. On the other hand, it would be useful for cities to have a view over the whole design enlarging their spectrum of competencies.
- An “Active City” is not a final destination or result, it is rather a continuous process of evolution based on cross-sectoral cooperation and alliances with various stakeholders from multiple levels of governance.
After three years, the PACTE project has come to its end. Nonetheless, the Matrix for Change will live on and continue supporting cities and municipalities become more active and implement their Active City strategies. Despite the end of the project, the fight against sedentarism in Europe remains. On behalf of the PACTE consortium, we are happy to have been able to contribute to the challenge in such a meaningful way and are grateful for all the fantastic people and organisations we met along the way.
Our bodies are designed to move, our cities should be too!
For those who were unable to follow the live event, please find a recording of the webinar here.
Click here to read the full report of the event