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Open, inclusive and green cities: interview with Teo Comet

It is clear that the socio-economic system in which we live is showing us its inadequacy for the global battles, as it is equally clear that the current ruling class is not ready to be up against the emergencies of this historical moment, if not by implementing a real twisting of our system, in which, first of all, proposals are needed.

The need of a Green political representation in Europe was born around the 70s, with the formalization of the first section of the Green Party in Switzerland. In recent years, Europe has had to face various crises, from economic to migration, seeing – especially in the northern countries – a constant development of environmental forces that, in a sort of incessant motion, have never stopped working to create a new Europe, which still today is fighting more than ever for a change in the main structures of our continent.

The Greta Thunberg phenomenon and the environmental drive.

It would be useless to dwell too much on the rightness of a figure as Greta Thunberg. In fact, the Swedish activist can be properly defined as a symbol, spokesman for all those young people who, in a few years, have begun to shape a new face for European politics, bringing environmentalism and political activism back into the limelight, interpreted by a generation that has everything to gain.

Parallel to the phenomenon of Greta Thunberg, fuse for movements like Fridays for Future and inspirer for other activists at the head of groups like Extintion Rebellion, many other young people are organizing themselves politically to create new spaces for dialogue across Europe, reopening the debate on the numerous battles that each member state must face, understanding its specificity and necessity, but trying to propose a valid and pragmatic alternative, which can replace the paradigms of a consumer policy, now on the verge of collapse.

What will contemporary politics have to do to face new global battles? How will it respond to a growing need for social and environmental justice demanded by the new European generations?

We talked about it with Teo Comet, former secretary of the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) and currently coordinator of the Tilt project, promoted by the Tilt, promosso dagli stessi European Greens themselves.

“We have to understand if what we are doing is efficient, asking ourselves how to change things in the best way, this is the most important question.”

To propose change, from every point of view, whether social, economic, cultural, but also urban and architectural, is the goal of the Federation of European Young Greens, born in 2007, an association that brings together all the green movements scattered around the Europe, bringing together young people from every corner of the continent, who make their skills available to do something through specific working groups. The youth wing of the European Green Party is one of the most active in tackling climate change, starting from a specific assumption: we are young, we are green and above all we are European.

“There is an entire generation of kids who are growing up convinced that they have no social rights, aware that they will not be entitled to retirement benefits, health insurance, any of this!”

It is where the old European policy has left a black hole, transforming the parliamentary arena in a place of debate between countries in the grip of increasingly sovereign spirits, which actually provide a little bit for the young population, favoring once again to resort mild methods of sedation of the problem, compared to the real resolution.

On the contrary, Teo and the Young European Greens are very determined to bring out a precise vision of what their Europe would like to be, starting first from the change of the economic system that governs our continent.

In fact, both the Federation of European Young Greens and the European Green Party are asking that the first step to be taken to start changing the status quo is the ratification of a “Green New Deal” that can respond to growing economic and working instability of many citizens, but above all lays the first foundation stone for building a sustainable economic model both from an environmental point of view, reducing the ecological influence of each individual country, implementing measures that improve overall the quality of life, and from a social point of view, reducing the indices of poverty and inequality which unfortunately are still very high in a continent that has never been as rich as in this historical moment.

The actors on stage are manifold, from institutions to businesses and it is necessary that they are all involved in the reprogramming of a system that definitively abandons the model of neoliberal globalization that we have followed to date, rebuilding a society that is sustainable first of all for those who lives it, based on responsibility and solidarity.

“We want open, inclusive, creative and welcoming European cities where everyone feels welcome and safe, creating value, because these places are poles of attraction where people want to live”

Therefore, the “Green Revolution” is a battle that must be fought city by city, territory by territory, intervening in the first place on the relationship between the environment and the citizen, creating cities where people not only feel welcomed, but where they can actively live, implementing a dialogue with the reference institutions. From this point of view, the urban environment is the main laboratory in which inciting creativity and commitment, bringing nature and its importance back to the center of the citizen’s daily life.

In this perspective, cities play a fundamental role in the diffusion and affirmation of a new economic system that places social well-being and nature at the center, finding solutions in different areas and transforming itself into a collection basin for different social issues. Citizens and institutions, therefore, will have to interpret the city not only as a system, but also as a real ecosystem in which each element depends on the other, in a circular economic model.

Placing cities at the center of this revolution is the only way to re-establish contact with the average citizen, who is increasingly distant from politics, perceived as an abstract universe, far from the real needs.

In fact, making our cities sustainable means intervening physically, reviewing the relationship between the city and urban greenery, creating transport systems and connections that are simultaneously eco-sustainable and socially accessible, guaranteeing equal opportunities for all citizens, but not only. Architecture, as well as the study of the urban landscape, are two enormous resources in this struggle, since they can be considered the first step towards a global rethinking of the urban and industrial environment as we know it today.
Ultimately, relaunching at national and European level, a set of policies aimed at shaping a new society based on solidarity, inclusion and respect, it seems the only way not to succumb to the collapse of a system that has long been discovering its fragility, crumbling under the pressure of an incessant climate change, which is the direct consequence.

The Federation of European Young Greens and the European Green Party’s opinion and their mission is clear: to work to make these cities – still a mirage today – come true.

Translated into English by Marco Grattarola.