Remnants of colonialism dot the landscape in the Belgian capital , Source: Vince GX / Unsplash

Brussels has a 14-point action plan to decolonise public spaces

Brussels has a 14-point action plan to decolonise public spaces

As Brussels is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, this is seen as a matter of ‘quality of life’

On Tuesday, the Brussels Capital Region State Secretary for City Planning and Heritage, Pascal Smet, presented a strategy to decolonise the Belgian Capital’s public spaces. The strategy proposes 14 points and takes the general approach of analysing complaints on a case-by-case basis. Brussels Capital Region gave the strategy the green light.

The strategy aims to fight against racism in public spaces. The working group was spearheaded by Pascal Smet but included 20 experts and began work in 2020. Additionally, it proposes universal guidelines that can be adopted by other cities, considering that Europe largely lacks a unified approach for dealing with heritage and symbols of colonialism in public spaces.

The Belgian capital is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with around a third of the population being born in another country. Thus working to create a city that is inclusive to residents of all colours and creeds is seen as essential by the authorities.

14 points for a more inclusive Brussels

The first proposition proposed by the working group is the creation of a guidance committee to guide the high-quality implementation of the plan. The second step would be to appoint a decolonisation coordinator, to monitor policymakers and experts implementing the plan.

The third step would be to complete an inventory of all movable, immovable and natural heritage related to colonialism. The fourth and fifth would be to implement a planning permit methodology and conduct a feasibility study on developing a decolonisation interpretation centre.

The sixth and seventh steps, in turn, call for funding organisations working in remembrance and education on the topic, as well as exploring the feasibility of a memorial to the victims of the Belgian colonial regime.

At the same time, the group also proposes the creation of a repository for removed heritage objects and establishing remembrance days to foster a continued reflection on the subject.



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