ECUADOR, 2/7/2013

Government promotes project that seeks to recover and protect heritage cities.

“People have the right to fully enjoy the city and its public spaces — under the principles of sustainability, social justice, respect of different urban cultures, and equilibrium between the urban and rural. Exercising the right to the city is based on democratic governance of the city, on the social and environmental function of the property and the city, and the full exercise of citizenship,” says Article 30 of the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008.

The right to a secure and healthy environment is part of the concept of Good Living, or Sumak Kawsay, which is included in the Constitution along with other basic rights, such as the right to have access to water, food, a healthy environment, to education, and health, among others.

To promote this right, the Ministry for the Coordination of National Heritage launched on Jan. 10 the Cities of Good Living project, aimed to protect, conserve, and promote the enjoyment of the cultural patrimony as well as to develop planning, investigation, and protection mechanisms related to city management.

The Minister of National Heritage, María Belén Moncayo, specified that the initiative, which will cost US$933 million and will proceed until 2017, hopes to “create a just and inclusive country,” which will rescue the identity of the population and improve its quality of living.

In a radio interview, Moncayo declared that “it is about reclaiming the city as a right and also considering that identity is part of this right that we have to guarantee.”

In the cities where the project will be implemented, there will be work alongside local authorities to improve public spaces, promoting bicycle routes, pedestrian streets, tree-planting, and recovering of civic values. There will also be a promotion of cultural, gastronomic, and conscious tourism entrepreneurship.

These features are stated in the National Plan for Good Living 2009-2013, which establishes the public policies, programs, and projects, and defines Good Living as “a complex, living, non-linear, and historically defined concept that is thus constantly re-defined.”

Good Living “is the meeting of needs, the attainment of a quality life and dignified death, love and being loved, the healthy growth of everyone in peace and harmony with nature, and the indefinite prolongation of human cultures. Good Living assumes having free time to contemplation and emancipation, and that the true liberties, opportunities, capabilities, and potentials of individuals will expand and grow in a way that allows for the simultaneous achievement of whatever the society, territories, the diverse collective identities, and each individual — seen both as a universal yet a particular human being — value as a desirable life goal (both material and subjective, and without creating any type of dominance over others). Our concept of Good Living obligates us to rebuild what is public in order to identify and understand ourselves and value each other — as different but equals — to ensure that reciprocity and mutual recognition thrive, and with that allow self-realization and creation of a shared social future, ” says the document. —Latinamerica Press.