At the first side event at the UCLG Congress organized by the UCLG Urban Strategic Planning, the Committee on mobility and digital and knowledge-based cities, and the City of  Rabat´s Planning Department, history was made when Walk 21, an international NGO conducted its first walking audit in Africa. The mandate of Walk 21 of creating a culture and community where people choose to walk, is aligned with city strategies to promote walking and its interface with public transportation and is also consistent with the UCLG vision of  more integrated, sustainable and just cities.

In the morning seminar held on October 1st before the walking audit, participants learnt that two-thirds of the entire city population in Rabat uses walking as a mode of transport and great efforts have been made by the city leadership to promote walking. Interestingly it was also discovered that 63 percent of all internal trips in Bilbao today consist of walking. Bilbao´s successes was achieved by a strong policy framework to promote a more  human scale of development. Inspired by these insights from political leadership, we then conducted the walking audit in downtown Rabat. This experiential learning exercise was an eye-opener for all those that attended, and it helped us understand the city from the perspective of the pedestrian.

It was encouraging to see political leaders from the cities of Bilbao, Inhambane, Porte Alegre, Durban and Rabat, literally take the first step together earlier this week towards recommitting themselves to create cities that put PEOPLE at the center of development. Led by the Mayor of Durban, they each signed the International Charter for Walking.

The second step was taken later in the week, again led by the political Co-Chairperson of the Urban Strategic Planning Committee who was given an opportunity to make an input into the UCLG Executive Bureau. At this meeting he urged all members of the Executive Bureau to promote this agenda and encouraged all city partners to pledge support for the Charter.

NOTE: The full Charter can be found and signed at The International Charter for Walking identifies the needs of people on foot and provides a common framework to help authorities refocus their existing policies, activities and relationships.