Asia Urbs -- linking Auroville with Europe
The European Commission in Brussels, capital of the European Union, launched a few years ago a new programme under the name Asia Urbs. The programme is designed to encourage Asian and European cities to work together on urban pilot projects, with the overall aim of promoting co-operation and assisting cities to strengthen their urban management capacity.
In 1998, Auroville explored the possibility of obtaining support from the European Commission under this programme. After a long process, which involved a 3-day visit of the Programme Director to Auroville, the European Union recognised Auroville as a municipality and, consequently, as an eligible partner. This finally resulted in a collaboration agreement, which was signed with the European Commission in 2001, involving the cities of Venice (Italy) and Köln (Germany) as project partners.
With funding from the European Commission, the 2-year project will commence in April 2001 with the creation of an Innovative Urban Management Facility in Auroville. Apart from office spaces, the building will include a conference room, a multimedia centre-cum-library, and a resource centre for documentation on urbanisation, town planning, sustainable city development, and urban challenges in Asia and elsewhere.
After completion of the building, a series of workshops and conferences on water management, alternative transport, traffic management, energy planning and renewable energy will be organised and attended by specialists from Köln and Venice. A workshop on waste management will also be held in Köln, and an exhibition on Auroville in Venice.
In addition, the Auroville Perspective Master Plan 2000-2025 that was recently approved by the Government of India, will be elaborated in a detailed 5-year Development Plan with the help of experts from Venice and Cologne, and Indian town planners and architects. A municipal energy plan for a population of 50,000 people will be prepared, and a pre-feasibility study on watershed management in the Auroville area will be made in collaboration with international consultants, together with a plan for the installation of various decentralised wastewater treatment plants. The equipment of the Auroville Solar Service will be upgraded, and the laboratory of Auroville's Water Service will be substantially improved for testing water, soil and food contamination in the wells throughout the 120 sq. km bioregion, which directly affect the living standards of some 70,000 people. Finally, urban green work will be carried out with the creation of parks, green corridors and avenue trees in the city area; and the development of the landscape, including catchment ponds and check-dams to minimise water run-off throughout the township area.
- linking Auroville with European and Indian Cities
Networking with European cities started a few years ago in Auroville on a small scale, when members of AVI Spain contacted the city of Pamplona and the region of Navarra (Spain). As a result, the Government of Navarra and the municipality of Pamplona are now supporting health care and water supply projects in Auroville's neighbouring villages with an annual budget.
More recently, contacts were made with the municipalities of Ancona, Bologna, Ferrara, Firenze, Milano, Rome, Treviso and Venice in Italy, Lyon, Orleans, Paris, Poitiers and Strasbourg in France, Bent in England, Almere and Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Copenhagen in Denmark, and Köln in Germany.
In February 2001 a second project, called "City Networking for Sustainable Development and Human Unity", was presented to the European Commission for funding under the Asia Urbs programme in partnership with Venice, Paris, and the Province of Treviso in Italy.
The scope of the project is to provide opportunities for sharing experiences, resources and information in the field of sustainable urban management and cultural integration. The project targets Asia-Urbs project holders, cities in the European Union, Indian metropolitan cities and medium-sized towns, NGOs and professional associations in India and Europe.
For this purpose, an international conference on "Sustainable Urban Development and Cultural and Human Integration" will be organised in Auroville in 2002. The project also includes the establishment in Auroville of a full-fledged resource and city networking service centre. A data base of EU and Indian cities will be set up as an information tool for European, Indian and South-Asian cities, interested in decentralised cooperation.
To further promote city networking between Auroville, India and Europe the following activities are envisaged under the project:
Visit of European Union Ambassador
Towards the end of March 2001, Auroville received the visit of Mr. Caillouët, the European Union Ambassador - Head of the Delegation of the European Union in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The visit coincided with the vernal equinox and the first World Day of Planetary Consciousness.
After a dawn gathering marking the World Day of Planetary Consciousness, the Ambassador attended the foundation stone ceremony for the new Town Hall Annex that will include the Innovative Urban Management Facility, funded by the European commission under the Asia Urbs programme.
Afterwards, the Ambassador, seated at a central table covered with the European Union flag and a bowl of lotus flowers on top, symbolising the link between Europe and India, listened to a series of short presentations on various EC projects in Auroville.
Final item on the Ambassadors' morning-long agenda was an interaction with Auroville residents on the subject of 'India, Europe and Human Unity'.
For detailed information see the special Feb '02 issue of Auroville Outreach Newsletter
Mr. Caillouët visiting Auroville's Future. Aurovilian Luigi gives a brief introduction on the Auroville Master Plan.
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