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Barcelona, world capital of markets

Edited on

23 March 2015
Read time: 2 minutes

Two back-to-back international congresses with the world's leading experts in the field of markets to make Barcelona the capital of markets from March 25-28th. 

9th International Public Markets Conference

For four days from March 25 Barcelona will become the World Capital of Markets. On March 25 it will host the closing conference of the URBACT Markets conference, and one day later it will play host to the 9th International Public Markets Conference, which has only ever been held in the United States until now. The Conference has been organized by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) with support from Barcelona’s Institut Municipal de Mercats and in conjunction with the Global Network of Cities and Local and Regional Governments (UCLG), HealthBridge and UN-Habitat, the United Nation’s office for human settlements and sustainable development. Mercabarna and Arestes are the official sponsors of the Conference. 

The URBACT Markets Conference, to be held on March 25 at the emblematic Santa Caterina market, will bring the two year project to an end. Led by Barcelona and funded by the European Union, the project is designed to promote the role of urban markets as drivers of entrepreneurship, urban regeneration and sustainability. During the meeting, the nine participating regions and cities (Attica (Greece), Dublin (Ireland), Westminster (UK), Turin (Italy), Suceava (Romania), Toulouse (France), Wroclaw (Poland), Pécs (Hungary) and Barcelona (Spain)) – will highlight the results of their projects. Importantly, partners will focus on how to move forward now the project is over, especially regarding financing issus to implement their project designs.

Barcelona’s market model: an international benchmark

The US-based Project for Public Spaces decided to hold the 9th International Public Markets Conference in Barcelona because it is an exemplary “market city”. 

The Conference, which will be held from 26 to 28 March at the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), will explore how cities with public markets can develop cities by stimulating local economies through commerce, making healthy food accessible and creating genuine and dynamic public spaces. The Conference will also set out a list of markets that might not survive into the future. Participants will also draw up a Conference Declaration in favor of greater local and international commitment to these traditional commercial outlets. The Conference will come to a close with the presentation of the first ever Market City Award, to be presented  by the Founder and President of PPS, Fred Kent.

A broad range of issues will be discussed during the Conference, including how markets can generate economic and employment opportunities; how markets can become drivers of entrepreneurship, new commerce and food trends; the role of old and new public markets in today’s competitive marketplace, and how markets serve as social and community spaces.

The organizers will also assess how to build public policy support for markets; the interactions between producers and final consumers, as well as how markets have become places where healthy food is sold and promoted, a trend that is in line with consumer demand. Lastly, it will analyze the management model and the benefits and challenges of public versus private market management.

The Conference will also hear about Barcelona’s experience with its 40 markets and markets model. Representatives of the Institut Municipal de Mercats and other municipal departments, such as Urban Habitat headed by chief architect, Vicente Guallart, will present different aspects of the organization of Barcelona’s market network: comprehensive urban planning and neighborhood design that envisages markets as a key element, joint public-private management partnerships, the remodeling design for Barcelona’s markets, as well as activities and services that place them at the heart of the neighborhood and make them a community space. The second day of the Conference will be dedicated to visiting Barcelona’s markets. This will take the form offourtours to visit remodeled markets, historic Modernista markets, new architecture markets and the impact of markets on neighborhoods.


Participants from around the world

The  event has generated unprecedented  interest and is drawing more participants than anticipated. . In all, 400 people from 120 cities and 40 countries have registered. Participants will be joining us, among others, from European countries, the US, Australia and Canada, as well as from developing countries such as Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Vietnam and Colombia. The US alone will have a delegation of 80 participants.

In addition to Barcelona’s public markets, others from around the world will be represented in sessions and on panels, including: The Pike Place Market (Seattle, Washington), Borough Market (London, England), Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market (Nova Scotia, Canada), FRESHFARM Markets (Washington, DC), Lok Fu Market and Tin Shui Market (Hong Kong), Grow NYC-Greenmarket Farmers Market (New York), Markthal Rotterdam (Netherlands), Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia), and Souk El Tayeb (Beirut, Lebanon).The Conference will also include delegates from Dublin, Pécs, Turin, Toronto, The Hague as well as representatives from affiliated organizations such as Wholesome Wave, Foodshare Toronto, Fresh FoodNetwork, and UN Women. 


9th International Public Markets Conference


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