Cities are spaces of coexistence and conflict; territories onto which the dreams of prosperity are projected, where shelter and protection are sought while tensions reach new heights. Terrorist attacks, racism, xenophobia, violence against women, youth violence, the lack of access to education and healthcare, violence at sporting events and in the media. Violence manifests itself in many ways with a marked urban presence.

These many faces of violence are grouped into three inter-related categories which feed into each other: direct, cultural and structural violence.

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  • Structural violence generates social imbalances which are at the source of marginalisation, poverty, and the exclusion of individuals, groups and even entire neighbourhoods.
  • Cultural violence, the fruit of ideologies, beliefs and symbolic universes, justifies structural violence and reinforces it.
  • Both feed into direct violence, which is the most visible face, ranging from gender-based violence to organised crime and the city becoming a war zone.

Talking about a capital of peace carries with it an implicit and urgent need to address violence in all of its manifestations. Manuela Carmena, the Mayor of Madrid, explains it in the following terms: “We have to get to the very heart of violence, we cannot accept it as an inevitable fact”. And it is as such that this forum, with mayors and institutional leaders, aims to become the meeting point for reflection which, through the exchange of experiences, strategies, campaigns and policies, will culminate in local governments proposing an efficient global peace agenda.

To this end, we propose to tackle the issue through praxis, putting the emphasis on those experiences of education for coexistence and peace which identify solutions, very much in line with the thinking of the Mayor of Madrid when she commented: “Violence is something that is learnt, and that is why it is so important to tackle it using education for peace.”

The goals of this world Forum are:

  • To evaluate the reasons behind violence
  • To identify and exchange experiences
  • To propose specific ideas involving education for peace revolving around mediation and conflict management for coexistence
  • To propose peacebuilding policies, programmes and projects
  • To approve the “Commitment to peace against violence in cities”