MADRID, A BETTER CITY AFTER THE PANDEMIC

MADRID, A BETTER CITY AFTER THE PANDEMIC

José Luis Martínez-Almeida - Madrid Mayor

No one can boast of being prepared for a pandemic like the coronavirus. No big city was, and neither was Madrid. Our high population density, a thriving economy, our Madrid Barajas airport, that is the window open to the world, or our attractiveness as a tourist destination, have made Madrid a particularly punished place; turning these hallmarks into our main Achilles heel.

Despite this, Madrid has resisted with commendable courage and determination. Giving an example, as Vargas Llosa said, that "will remain in our memory as one of the most unique and admirable events in the history of Madrid."Having overcome the hardest, it is now time to look ahead, reactivate our economy, respond to the social crisis and learn to live differently, turning our weaknesses into strengths and transforming the crisis into a great opportunity to make Madrid a better city.

For this we must attend to the urgent without forgetting the important. The urgent thing is the immediate thing, the employment and the economic and social well-being of the families. The revival of our economic fabric and the response to an unprecedented social challenge that, although already part of our government agenda, needs renewed momentum. For what is important we have to raise our eyes and look beyond.
With this approach we work at different levels, all of them necessary and certainly complementary.

Internally, we have continued to push forward an ambitious transformative agenda. The approval of singular projects such as Madrid Nuevo Norte, or the new Nudo Norte of the M-30 will come to solve problems that have strangled the development of the city. Acting in turn as great levers for economic reactivation and generating employment and opportunities for a lot of families. And the same goes to large-scale projects, such as Madrid 360, the urban regeneration project around the A-5 or the reform of the Plaza de España and the area near the Royal Palace.

At the political level, we have started the tables for the economic and social reactivation of our city, a negotiation in which all the municipal groups actively participate. The proposals whose approval and elevation to plenary will require a high level of consensus. What Madrid is, will not be an attraction tailored to anyone, but a great agreement of all with a horizon that must go beyond this legislature.

Together with the political tables and this great future City Agreement, we have decided to add anyone who wants to help us build the Madrid of the future. We have a group of world-class business and social leaders who have offered to help us reactivate and reposition Madrid among the world's great capitals. The objective is to add talent and resources and translate it into concrete projects that allow meeting the needs of Madrid in the short, medium and long term, turning this unprecedented crisis into a great opportunity.

When opportunities arise they must be seized. Learning the lessons of this crisis is our first responsibility in the post-Covid era. The time has come, therefore, to rethink the future of large cities, including ours, to think about how they should be in a world vulnerable to global threats.

Before this crisis, Madrid already had a Smart City strategy and a digitization office, which has been very useful to adapt in record time. From one day to the next, we had to implement the use of the electronic signature in all administrative procedures, assume telework as a generalized form of service provision, or reorganize our public service network in a non-face-to-face way. The change has been radical, impacting fully on the organizational culture of our town hall, with more and more online meetings, more interconnection and less face-to-face.

Now a new, much more interesting scenario opens up, where technological advances and social requirements will go hand in hand, with a better prepared society, more demanding and much more willing to interact with our city. An Smarter City for an increasingly Smart Society.

And, for the time being, we must assume that many changes have come to stay. We have discovered that thanks to teleworking we can better limit the impact of rush hours on public transport, stagger comings and goings from work. Also, to avoid unnecessary transfers to the center of our cities. 

Thanks to electronic commerce we can acquire all kinds of goods and services without leaving home. The decrease in traffic allows us to enjoy cleaner and healthier cities. We have rediscovered the pleasure of walking and playing sports and more bike circulation in our city. The sanitary applause has helped us to get to know our neighbors better and share with them a few minutes of daily gratitude. We make our environment a more humane place, with neighborhood networks willing to help those in need or thousands of volunteers dedicated to projects with solidarity. Many companies have had to reinvent themselves and even citizens have modified their consumption habits, introducing digitization in their daily lives.

This is how the new Madrid is, more interconnected, aware of its weaknesses and its strengths, brave and supportive and very aware of the ordeal that it has undergone. Redirecting all these changes towards a new way of doing and living our city is an exciting challenge. We have a very valuable opportunity that we are not going to miss. We have suffered a lot and have learned a lot from ourselves. These lessons and the intimate feeling of being the protagonists of the best response to an unprecedented challenge, make Madrid, in my opinion, a better city after the pandemic.

José Luis Martínez-Almeida Navasqüés
Mayor of Madrid

MADRID, A BETTER CITY AFTER THE PANDEMIC

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