Dear participants of ENHR Conference 2017
Dear honorable guests, friends and partners,
It is absolutely amazing to see most of you back in Tirana after the very first and inspiring conference of 2003, which we jointly and successfully organized at that time, thanks to the great energy of Co-PLAN Institute and a vibrant Municipality of Tirana.
14 years after, we meet again with a new institutional reality such as POLIS University, a research and academic spin off of the worthy experience of Co-PLAN. Nowadays we have also a bigger and more metropolitan Municipality of Tirana, because of a national territorial reform implemented by authorities during the last years. Mr. Edi Rama, at that time mayor and host of the conference, now is prime minister of the country.
Meantime we have now a new mayor in Tirana, whom I must take the opportunity to thank today for showing his support to POLIS, Co-Plan and other partners of the conference and for working together with his and our teams to make it possible today for all of us to meet in here. That's why I thank you all for the great work done so far. I must also thank ENHR for the trust put again on us!
The reality in Albania has also evolved as everywhere in the world. Many issues and problems of the past now are accommodated, while new ones are generated or have become even more complicated. Society and development has been growing but also complicating as well. Albania and Western Balkans region has entered a new phase of development, where complexities of society, question marks over economic efficiency, and dilemmas of the future on democracy in itself, are growing concerns to all us for our everyday life.
Housing and urban development are of course some of the key tangible instruments to address the problems of today. But they are not anymore just comfortable professions and sciences of a traditional context, because everything is in radical and continuous change! We have entered as a ‘global village’ in an unknown path towards future! Fears and insecurities are high! Hopes and expectations are also high! On the meantime, serious dilemmas stay ahead for us! Something ‘magical’ and ‘unknown’ is happening during the last years, but we still do not know what exactly it is, and above all how to deal with it. This raises more tension, which in addition, fuels instability, eagerness, and in return, new issues.
In the Balkans for example, with the fall of Berlin Wall, we were screaming to make the region ‘normal’ and part of Europe. But nowadays Europe has its own serious problems and dilemmas, while global geopolitics and priorities are reshaping dramatically fast, with serious impact all over us, often at the cost of democracy and democratic systems itself.
In this broad picture, what we all know for sure is that professionals, technicians, and public administrators have role in offering calm to society and roadmap to policy makers, in order to design pragmatic programs and efficient advice in fairly addressing the increasing struggles of everyday life for people. So we must all do something to help and provide not just daily alternatives, but above all a safe path towards a stable and safe future in a new complex reality.
Housing is of course a safe place for all, but because of such concerning circumstances I described above, we need to provide housing for all! We need to integrate all and make them feel secure and home. This is the best cure to avoid growing social conflicts, massive displacement of people, and global terrorism.
And we all know: it is not just about providing a mere shelter to everyone. It is above all about providing quality of life and dignity to everyone. It is about qualitative public space, where healthy communities are conceived and become constructive. It is about good public transport and healthy and safe environments. It is about fair systems of urban infrastructure and democratic affordable service developments, where the end beneficiaries become people and part of the community, and not a just bunch of cleptocratic ‘pseudo-elites’ or statuesque bureaucracies, which are indeed the real cause for the generated crisis we face nowadays, locally and globally. Indeed, we all have embarked now a new reality of local-global networks, where decisions on people, market economy, and democracy are taken slightly different from what we were used for, after the fall of Berlin Wall.
Therefore, we need to think hard how to urgently bring back hope and inspiration to people and societies. We need to hear more responsible experts, technicians and professionals that are not anymore retreating in the lazy corners of self-esteem, self-being and fake “political” neutrality. Therefore, we need activists and intellectuals to join society in the rediscovery endeavors towards new spaces of hope, growth and positivity. This issue of ‘trust-gaining’ from society is urgent, if we don't want to see society one day ignoring us. To do that, we must first reform ourselves! Only then we might hope to solve the crisis of our profession, and return to society and institutions, being much more useful and helpful. Only in this way we can have a say also to the emerging needs for ‘new’ public institutions. In this way we might also contribute intelligently, in favor of more efficient market economies with ‘human face’. In this way we can be more active players in reforming democratic systems and democracy itself.
This is what society expects from us! So please join actively all presentations, field-visits and debates! Be controversial and not conventional! Well, at the end you are in Balkans, you are in Albania. So Europe can also benefit a bit from our dynamism and creativity.
So … Welcome to Tirana, Welcome to POLIS University!
Monday, September 4, 2017 - 09:30