This Thursday, June 17, the third and final debate of the international cycle on good municipal practices on time policies took place, organized by the Barcelona Time Use Initiative for a Healthy Society and DIPLOCAT. The debate focused on the exchange of different time policies carried out from the point of view of public health, in order to adapt or make the schedules established by the local governments more flexible , and thus decrease citizens’ vital rhythms disruption.
The debate was presented and introduced by Laura Foraster, General Secretary of DIPLOCAT, and Jean-Yves Boulin, coordinator of the European Cities Network for Time Policies, who remarked that there is a political opportunity and a social and public interest for relaunching the Network, which was created in 2008 in Barcelona and during the first years connected municipalities that applied time use policies. Currently, the network is less active but there is a project to reactivate it that will be presented at Time Use Week 2021.
María de los Ángeles Rol de Lama, full professor of Physiology and co-director of CronoLab research group at the University of Murcia, explained the scientific evidence that exists between health and respecting our internal clock, including reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, cognitive and affective disorders and improving sleep quality. She stated that “inequality of time must be ended, as it has clear and serious effects on individual and public health.” She explained that we all understand that diet is important for health, but sleep hours and natural light also play a key role. According to the Spanish Sleep Society, up to 48% of the population admit to having trouble sleeping. Finally, she called on citizens and institutions to promote working, environmental and care schedules so that citizens can sleep better.
Three case studies of municipalities that have implemented time use policies
Anne Le Floch, vice-president of Rennes Métropole, explained the changes that led them to reduce traffic and congestion on public transport at rush hour and thus “save time for people and reduce inequalities over time”. They promoted specific measures such as flexible entry and exit times at universities and work, between 8 am and 9 am, the creation of co-working spaces to avoid travel, or the promotion of people working a few hours at home and, when there is less traffic, commuting to work.
Glòria Plana, Councilor for Economic Promotion at Girona City Council, explained the changes promoted by the City Council and the Girona Network for Time Use Reform to improve health, conciliation and productivity, such as : establishing a punctuality commitment , limiting the duration of plenary sessions and advancing lunch time around 1pm, flexible hours to compensate for the days of “peak” work, establish periods of high productivity (without calls and e- mails), among others.
The Councilor for Economic Promotion of Argentona City Council, Àngel Puig, explained how, through the Time Agreement, a participative city agreement on time policies, it has been possible to advance the hours of educational leisure, culture and leisure and the positive effects on health and well-being it has had on children and families.
Finally, Ariadna Güell, co-coordinator of the Barcelona Time Use Initiative for a Healthy Society, concluded the cycle by stating that the aim of this cycle was to encourage the exchange of good practices in time policies between municipalities, as a key step in promoting its implementation in those municipalities that do not yet have them, and help to grow and expand the policies that are made in those municipalities already committed. The BTUI makes a positive assessment of this first cycle and explains that “it has highlighted the need to continue working in this line, relaunching and expanding the existing network of cities at European level and enhancing existing ones at national and regional level. ”.