In advance of the METREX Spring Conference, taking place 23-26 April in Wrocław, we summarise some of the issues that have shaped the agenda and our aspirations for the conference.
TIME magazine dubbed “polycrisis” as the buzzword of this year’s Davos event, which it said “describes the simultaneous and overlapping crises facing the world today: a health crisis, a mounting climate crisis, a war in Europe, an inflation shock, democratic dysfunction, and much more”.
In Europe, Brexit and its consequences were considered the first crisis, a symptom of rising EU-scepticism, nationalism and populism. Further shocks followed in what seemed like quick succession, from the ever-mounting threats to the environment and ongoing impact of migration on European unity, to the existential threat of Covid-19 and future pandemics challenging Europe’s enshrined freedom of movement.
Fast-forward 18 months and as Europeans began to believe an end to the pandemic was nigh, the continent’s leaders are tested again as Russia invades Ukraine, raging the biggest war on the continent since World War Two, and putting further strain on the European social fabric and economy, as inflation reaches 30-year highs on the back of a war-fueled energy crisis.
National politics, too, is changing. Budgets are increasingly being re-centralised, leading a squeezed layer of municipal government with the dilemma of how to maintain their position as subjects of ambitious initiatives and policies on local and metropolitan levels.
At the METREX Spring Conference in Wrocław, we will discuss the possibilities of acting on the metropolitan level in these new, difficult circumstances. But we don’t want to only talk. We also want to create. That’s why parallel to our conference, workshops will be set up where young people, led by experts, will try to shape ideas for the future of two or three chosen places in Wrocław.
The conference will also be an occasion to present what’s going on in Polish and Central European metropolitan areas, in the fields of spatial planning, and strategic thinking and doing.
But returning to the “polycrisis” – we’re very much concerned about the future of Europe. Our solution is to strengthen the metropolitan level, across the continent. As METREX, together with our sister organisations including EMA, we’re planning to promote the metropolitan agenda more actively on the EU level. We believe that a stronger network of metropolitan areas and regions can be the real backbone of Europe. But we are aware that this is not obvious for everyone, even at the highest levels of the EU. For that reason, we are working on a Metropolitan Vision for Europe 2050. At the Wrocław conference we will present the document and discuss the chances of turning it into European action.
This is an important moment for the network: please join us in Wrocław to offer your expertise, to learn from the approaches of others to overcoming significant and common challenges, and support the potential of the metropolitan dimension in Europe.
The METREX Spring Conference – A Metropolitan answer to current crises in Europe: Rethinking resources, demography, resilience – will take place in Wrocław over 23-26 April 2023. The conference is open to all METREX Members and invited guests. For more information visit the conference page.