Atlantic Cities

Xavier Gizard, first Secretary General of the CAAC, called the Atlantic the “colporteur des Mondes” (Worlds’ Hawker). This metaphor hides many questions. Where does the Atlantic Arc begin and end? Which are its borders? Can we put limits to an ocean?

The founding documents of the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities (CAAC) emphasize the need to ensure “international openness and cooperation between cities, through the development of relations with the cities of the Atlantic Arc Africa, America and Mediterranean basin. » Those same documents define the potential members as cities “located in the Atlantic Arc or interested in its dynamics.” Thus, there is not a notion of border, but of flow and space.

Created in 2000, this network revolves around two basic axes. The first is the defence of the Atlantic Arc as a key development area in European integration. The second is to support a greater role of cities in the EU, national and regional decision- making. Although there is still some way to go, this mission has resonated within the new EU initiatives, such as the approval of the Atlantic maritime strategy or the development of the Urban Agenda.

Developed between 2014 and 2016, the studies inside of the Atbrand project also reveal the need to determine the Atlantic identity within its projection in the world; without limiting it to Europe’s coastal regions. The “Atlantic brand” is not restricted to the “Old Continent”, but flows from north to south and from east to west; like the ocean that inspires it.

So today, time has come for the Atlantic cities to fully assume their global (and not just continental) role. They are located in the centre of the planet (and not on the periphery of Europe, as some short-sighted fellows insist to note.) In this sense, this Secretariat wants to present a work proposal at our next General Assembly.

The starting point will be aimed at analysing the actual weight of the Atlantic cities worldwide. Similarly, the network will identify projects in progress or projection. Twinnings like Viana do Castelo’s with Cacheu or cooperation as between Brest Metropole and Veracruz, demonstrate that our cities play a definitive role in the balance between continents.

This strategy, which will be inspired by the last Habitat Conference, also involves identifying European and / or international funds that could serve to strengthen these links. The first objective will be to work with EuropeAid, but external aid of countries, regions and international organizations can also help to strengthen transatlantic ties. Thus, our cities will be in position to propose co-development strategies, where communities of both banks collaborate on specific projects.

Finally, CAAC foresees two initiatives that will lead to increase the visibility of the Atlantic cities and their transatlantic ties. One is to promote the “Atlantic City of the Year” contest so that the cities of the other banks may submit their nominations for the next edition (2017 to be elected in 2018). The other is to create a Global Forum of Atlantic cities, a meeting to be held every two years, alternately in one of the two banks, in one of the cities participating in this urban mapping of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Worlds’ Hawker must continue its path.


Tamara Guirao Espiñeira,
Secretary General of the Atlantic Cities


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