The last green spaces in the Brussels-Capital Region are gradually and methodically concreted, visible by the comparison from sky maps. Parks, woods, wasteland, gardens, and the last arable land is less likely to escape the work of the bulldozers and the insatiable appetite of developers.
While nearly 50% of the world population will be urban dwellers, it is vital to be aware of the importance of the role of nature in the city. Indeed, environmental calamities that urban life implies in turn threaten the very livability of cities.
Extreme weather events can be expected. Does anyone remember the 2003 heat wave that killed 70,000 people in Europe ? The most vulnerable people suffer heat waves, which can be mitigated in the cities with the buffer role of green spaces. Similarly, the floods will increase, as the concrete of the city waterproofs its surface. Maintaining wide green spaces in the city is essential to deal with watercontrol . The vulnerability of urban dwellers will also increase with structural increase in energy prices. Cities gradually lose their ability to import from outside always more expensive food. They are dependent of their immediate and distant periphery for food. The specialists of food systems are ringing the alarm bells for decades : in industrialized countries, it is necessary now more than 10 calories from fossil fuels to produce a calorie of food !
Two examples : Cuba, which has lost its oil supply after the collapse of the Eastern bloc, and Detroit, the United States, after the closure of its auto plants following the crisis of 2008. In both cases, when the economy collapsed part of the population, starting with the most insecure people spontaneously, turned to urban agriculture to live, or rather survive.
What will we do if everything is concrete ? Maintaining wide green spaces, securing food belts around cities, and even more so in large cities, is therefore an urgent need for their medium-term sustainability. Nature provides "services" that humans and technique are not able to replace. Regulate temperature, humidity, absorb water, filter, purify the air, pollinate plants, produce cheaper quality foods, as many answers to basic needs for life are destroyed by the concreting of the living earth surfaces.
Entrusting these services exclusively to farmers is ever more making citizens dependent on an unsustainable system that relies on fossil fuels and polluting chemicals. Secure green spaces in the city is essential for the well-being of citizens, as has been understood in Stockholm and Frankfurt, for example.
Tomorrow it will be necessary to simply live or survive in the city. But Brussels is engaged on the reverse channel. We draw the line and ring the alarm bells.
Engaged in collective defending of green spaces and natural areas, we are frequently confronted with promoters only motivated by short-term profits and often curiously, we get the active support of the Brussels local government, as well as some city councils.
Green commons in danger in Brussels are :
La Plaine (ULB), 8.5 hectares of rich biodiversity threatened by a housing project, luxury for the most part ;
Haren, the 18 acres of the land "Keelbeek" are threatened by a proposed mega prison ;
Ernotte, citizens gardens are threatened in favor of housing, most of which are too expensive for many people in Brussels ;
the Tanners, a green square spontaneously invested by the residents will be concreted, though an alternative solution existed ;
Jette, Wood Laerbeek and nearby eco-gardens are threatened by the expansion of the ring ;
Ninove gate in one of the least green areas of the capital, Construction projects and redesign of the layout of public transport threatens the achievement of the large park that people need so much ;
Engeland at Uccle plateau, 6.5 ha of semi-natural areas, not yet urbanized and suitable to agriculture, will be sacrificed for 298 homes without adequate public transport and despite existing narrow roads not adapted to the increased traffic .
Everywhere, the same logic is at work : under cover of population pressure, shortage of housing and jobs or lack of security, developers need projects that sacrifice short-term quality of life and sustainability of cities long-term benefit of the benefit of immediate gains.
In Brussels you can find 2 million square meters of empty office space, 15,000 empty homes and the equivalent potential of 5,000 dwellings in unoccupied commercial floors. Space does not lack it is rather the imagination and the political will that is lacking.
The "crisis" of housing, employment or security can no longer be an excuse for the destruction of living spaces because in doing so, it brings up the conditions of their own aggravation. Paving Brussels is asphyxiating the city. It is taking away its resilience, essential to address our post-oil future coupled with an aggressive climate.
This is why we ask for a moratorium on all projects which involve the destruction of the Brussels soils. This requires a coherent planning policy of the territory which gives his place back to nature in the city. During the time of its development, it is absolutely vital to secure the remaining green spaces. To draw the political territory with its inhabitants, we want that all citizens in Brussels can express a clear and unambiguous choice after a thorough and informed debate, which should actively involve all stakeholders .
We therefore demand the organization of a regional referendum (made possible by the 6th state reform) on the place of nature in the city, that is to say, ultimately, the town square in the kind.
The signatories sign in their own name and do not commit their association : Tom Grimonprez (Keelbeek free ! Keelbeek vrij !), Laurent Moulin (Haren Committee), Julie DISTEXHE (Committee "Save the Plain"), Leonardo Clarys (Committee for the Defence of the Tanners Yard), Thomas Vandemberghe (Ernotte-Boondael Committee) Elizabeth Grimmer (Ruraal Haren Rural vzw), Fabienne Delchevalerie (SolidHaren), Michel Moreels (CEBE), Mario Ninanne (Brussels vzw Nature), PorteNinovePoort Committee, Laurence Van Belle (aSBL early beans), François Istasse (project "Garden color "), Sébastien Kenne (Movement of patatistes), Julien Bernard (1000Bxl in Transition), Pablo Servigne (author of" Feed Europe in times of crisis ", 2014), Barbara Van Dyck (development of the territory and researcher urban development, Leuven University), Gauthier Chapelle (researcher in (ter) dependent, founding member of Biomimicry Europa aisbl), Nicolas J. Vereecken (Professor of agroecology - ULB), Jean-Baptiste Godinot (Rassemblement R), Emilie Bergilez (collective Urbanisason), Jacques Vellut (Ekta Parishad), Vincent Dethier (TerreMaCulture asbl), Camille Latin (asbl Breathe), Jasmine Pétry (Arlac association), Laurent Fontaine (Taraxacum vzw) Amaury Ghijselings (Quinoa), Alain Dangoisse (House of sustainable development), Aya Tanaka (asbl Nti) Fré Werbrouck (Here P. association), Michel Nejszaten (Collectif "children’s health and pollution"), Sylviane Mergelsberg (Vavéa - Possible Sowers), Laurence Paulet (Frequently Asked Savoir do), Paul Lannoye (asbl CLUSTER), Alice Blaimont (FUGEA)