This first Congress on Urban Landscape is indebted to those important previous initiatives in search for an international commitment to the recovery of landscape values. In 1993, the Letter of Mediterranean Landscape was signed in Seville; in 1998, the Letter of Urban Landscape was signed in Barcelona. In 2000, the European Landscape Convention was approved in Firenze. In 2010, the Brazilian Association of Landscape Architects presented the 12 principles of the Letter of Brazilian Landscape.= The Landscape Latin American Initiative (LALI) was held in Colombia, in 2012, when each country incited its landscape letter. All these actions have inspired the initiative we now present and are aimed at mobilizing people in favor of a better landscape management so as to improve citizenship quality of life.
SÃO PAULO MANIFESTO: LETTER OF THE CITIES
For a citizenship letter on the urban landscape.
I. The landscape of cities is an open system in constant evolution, thus requiring to be dealt with according to its dynamic nature.
II. The Urban Landscape includes public spaces, buildings in its surroundings, free spaces (either or not buildable) and all natural or artificial elements that might be over it or in an aerial space. A clean and harmonious Urban Landscape makes a city readable and expresses self-esteem of those who govern it and its citizens.
III. The geographical and environmental particularity of the site where a city is implanted, besides the culture of those who inhabit it, will characterize the specific image and the identity that shape its landscape.
IV. By its nature, the urban landscape is the extension of the dwelling place (the collective dwelling), and is therefore an inalienable right, for it is inherent to it; not transferable, for it can’t be alienated; not prescriptive, for it is a perennial right.
V. The optimization of those harmonious, esthetic and civic values inherent to the urban landscape is strongly conditioned by the use and activities developed in the cities. Any alteration in the relations of the elements that shape the landscape can lead to an instability that will negatively reverberate over the citizenship quality of life.
VI. The right to an urban landscape must be accessible to all citizens, and must be fulfilled by and to all. It is the right to a harmonious landscape, and mainly where ethics in esthetics prevails. When thinking of a city, we mainly think of the functionality of public streets, buildings and all equipment – that shape the urban scenario, which must be integrated and thought as an efficient exercise of their functions. But its beauty and charm must also be thought of. Worshiping beauty is part of the mankind’s culture.
VII. This acute sensibility regarding interventions on the landscape demands an integrated and integral management of its possible usages that conciliate the maintenance of its balance with the development of its socioeconomic functions. Urban landscape requires an integral, open, transversal and collaborative management that goes along with the natural evolution of the city, contributing to integrate and consolidate its new signs of identity.
VIII. The urban landscape is the result of both public and private actions over a territory two sectors that share the responsibility for the real city configuration, and must also share the responsibility for its sustainability, maintenance and improvement.
IX. The rules that moderate landscape uses must respect its dynamic nature and must also enable the use of cities to be more rational concerning the landscape value and identity. Its main purposes must be to preserve, protect and conciliate the collective right citizens are entitled to, so as to enjoy a harmonious landscape, yet without interfering with the individual right to use it in his/her own interest, as long as the intensity of its usage does not jeopardize its harmony.
X. Adjustments must be made to new paradigms, new materials and new technologies, as well as to the natural evolution of both the aesthetics and the habitudes of the citizens.
According to what is expressed here:
1. We consider urban landscape as an essential good for living together in our cities, one that deserves special attention and protection. Lack of planning is not the main problem of the cities: it is rather the lack of citizens’ behavioral change regarding the environment they live in, or where we live. We consider that the preservation and the improvement of urban landscape values reverberate over fundamental aspects for the urban life.
2. This concept accepted, the urban landscape relates to different aspects of our daily life we must watch over that affect the quality of life, such as health, well-being…
3. The urban landscape must highlight and appraise the natural and cultural heritage that ensures the very identity of each city and explain its history.
4. We consider that the wastage experienced by the cities due to the intensive use of their landscape must be directly reverted to the benefit of the community by means of tangible improvements of the landscape itself.
5. We urge administrations to act in order to improve the landscape and ensure its harmonious regulation, fostering both the habitability and the safety of cities, and making known the citizens’ rights and duties.
6. We consider crucial for citizens to actively take part in the maintenance of those elements that shape up the visible structure of the city, besides the right they should stand up for concerning urbanity related to the landscape preservation.
7. We request local governors to adopt specific tools to manage the wide base urban landscape, to establish and classify individual, collective, public and private responsibilities to the benefit of the quality of life in and of the city.
8. We request politicians and institutional managers to combine forces so that we can work together aiming at more habitable, human cities, overcoming individual interests in the common objective of improving conditions for living together in urban spaces and environments.
9. We understand that the urban landscape is, above all, a place for people to meet at, and that is why in this last item we open a Digital Agora, to incorporate your contributions in order to enrich the process.
São Paulo, December 8, 2015.