Fundació Catalunya Europa RE-CITY

Ana Huertas and Rob Hopkins

"Climate change is the greatest failure of the imagination in the history of humanity"


"I invite you to imagine how many uses this object could have", environmental activist Rob Hopkins said, showing an abstract object to the attendees of the conference "A new climate for a new society." For a while, the audience imagined up to twenty possible uses, while Hopkins explained that "with this exercise, we invite the imagination to arise, because in order to fight against climate change we need a lot of imagination and a lot of energy". Like this, the conference "Facing Climate Change" began with the collaboration of Ana Huertas, offered on December 13th in the cycle of Re-City organized by the Catalunya Europa Foundation with the collaboration of BBVA and the support of Barcelona City Council, the Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona and the Department of "Territori i Sostenbilitat" of Generalitat de Catalunya.

Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition Movement and PhD in Sustainable Transition Movement at the University of Plymouth (England) and Ana Huertas is the coordinator of the Red de Transición and an expert in sustainable agriculture and community development. "Governments and economic powers have imposed the story that we live in a fantastic world and that there is nothing better, but it is not true, there are other alternative models of cities that are more friendly and respectful of the environment, green spaces and without cars, that promote the local economy and places where people can live more connected to each other", explained Rob Hopkins summarizing the principles of the Transition Movement. This model wants to move towards a world without oil and much more sustainable, promoting local initiatives and other ways of imagining the future of cities, our neighborhoods and local communities.

"We must urgently react to climate change, it is a real climatic emergency, we do not think that this will be a problem for our grandchildren, but it is and we have to act now." That's why the Transition Movement proposes other ways of living, with imagination and innovation, so we do not have to depend on cars, oil and polluting industries. We live in a moment of transition towards a new model of society, from which our movement starts", explained Hopkins and Huertas in the Antoni Tàpies Foundation where they gave a lecture moderated by Lorenzo Chelleri, professor from the School of Architecture of the International University of Catalonia (UIC).

The Transition Movement was born 12 years ago and has a presence in about fifty countries in a hundred towns. Among the ongoing projects, there are cases of "cities in transition" such as Preston in England or Liège in Belgium, where dozens of local economy experiences and social cooperatives have been developed thanks to the collaboration of city councils with citizens.

The power of imagination

"We have to create spaces so people can exchange experiences, establish connections and trust relationships that allow them to promote their own projects as a result of cooperation and real collaboration with local administrations", said Ana Huertas, who criticized the governments. "They often put obstacles in community projects and only speak of participation when it suits them, but in the moment of truth they act without listening to the citizens". "We have to promote the associative fabric so that communities are owners of their own projects, we have to lose the fear of imagining and being creative", said Huertas, who gave the example of Mexico City, where the local government has created the figure of the creative consultancy and the so-called "Laboratory for the City", an office for the experimentation of new forms of collaboration and citizen participation led by the artist and journalist Gabriella Gómez-Mont.

In Spain, we also have many good examples grouped under the project "Municipios en Transición", in towns such as Carcaboso (Extremadura), Orendain (Basque Country), Argelaguer, Cardedeu or La Garrotxa (Catalonia). Ana Huertas also mentioned original initiatives such as the El Puma social currency that allows people to buy in El Pumajero neighborhood of Seville; a school that substituted the school bus for a horse carriage; or the "cinecicleta", a cinema that works thanks to the energy generated by a bicycle while pedaling. All of them, projects that will be presented at the Global Forum of the New Economy and Social Innovation (NESI) to be held in Malaga from April 24th to 26th 2019.

Finally, Rob Hopkins vindicated the responsible use of new technologies so that they serve to develop community projects and not to isolate us socially pending at every moment of social networks that "take away time to think and imagine". According to Hopkins, the transition to another model of society is inevitable if we really want to stop climate change. "Climate change is one of the greatest failures in the imagination of the history of mankind, because we have given up imagining other forms of life".