World Urban Forum – a lot of economics

Everywhere it is economics. The highlight of the day was Joseph Stiglitz talk at the forum. Although the translation was horrible most of the ideas were clear:

Inequality is something we all pay for at the end, and it needs to be addressed for cities to prosper.

 

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I try to attend the early session on civil society roundtable, but the initial talk was so unmoving that I left the room. I hope the rest was better. As I walked out I decided to go to the Medellin Pavillion. The entrance was not easy to get to, but the guides explained that it was to showcase the river. Something that made more sence once I got to see the first exposition “Contest on Park River Medellín”, an ambitious 15-year project to revitalize the river side and its use by citizens. Something very feasible seeing what the city has done to date.

From the Pavillion is it noticeable the work the city has done to organized itself, create a common vision and structure to carry out and implement projects.

As I left I went to the last 15 minutes of the Ministers Roundtable where various authorities presented their case. The one that caught my attention was that governments cannot continue to create slums legislation, i.e. try to eliminate them as they will continue to appear, but rather to address the inequalities that maintain the problem. Not an easy challenge, but reading the online comments during the event it is quite a turning point. I am sure the part that I missed was very interesting also.

As it was getting close to noon, and I had arrange to have lunch at the Botanical Garden, I quickly visited a friend at the CAF booth Marco Kamiya. I talked for a while with some of the CAF Environmental and Climate Change team and they are doing some interesting stuff regarding adaptation and energy efficiency in the industry sector. I would have liked to spend more time, but hunger was kicking in.

Lunch was nice at the Botanical Garden, with people I met on Monday. And on the way back to Plaza Mayor we walked by the Parque Botero. A very nice transformation of the city center with Botero’s sculptures. At the end and amazing, and well deserving, public library. One that I wish every would have. It was difficult not to compare this city library to the one in Maracaibo (similar size to Medellín), and wonder why we don’t have this type of urban infrastructure. Cities, society and quality of life starts by having educated citizens and a library such as this can be the start of a big difference.

The rest of the afternoon activities were related to financing mechanism for cities, where the work by the AFD (Agence Francaise de Developpement) and its partners is interesting. They have a book on financing tools targeted at latin american cities.

The sessions ended, the talk from J. Stiglitz ended, we took a taxi back to the hotel and the end of another day at the event. So far so good and three days to go.

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