On December 2-6, 2013, the Organization of American States and EAFIT University (Escuela de Administración y Finanzas e Instituto Tecnológico) convened a course geared toward disseminating best practices and lessons learned in sustainable urban development. The course focused on Medellin’s Integral Urban Projects approach (known as PUI), conceived as an urban intervention mechanism designed to tackle specific land problems by addressing their physical, social and institutional aspects. More than 20 experts and students from various disciplines participated in technical sessions and site visits that provided an in-depth knowledge of the City of Medellin’s sustainable urban management techniques.
Medellin is recognized for its public space improvements, providing approximately 1.6 million square meters of new green spaces throughout 25 parks and 11 urban promenades. City dwellers also enjoy a Metroplús BRT system integrated to the existing cable car and metro, and several pedestrian and bicycle connections. In addition to its sustainable transport and public space projects, Medellin implemented the public bicycle system “EnCicla” and the car-sharing program “Comparte tu carro”. Stop lights and safe crossings were improved to encourage pedestrian traffic, road safety is enforced with photo fines and a closed-circuit television system, and a vehicle exhaust inspection program was put in place to improve air quality. Several online media such as websites and social networks provide users with useful information about these services.
Course participants met with the former Mayor of Medellin and current Governor of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo, who explained the fundamental principles of the program that has transformed the City of Medellin over the last 14 years. Under the motto “Antioquia the most educated,” Fajardo identified education as the driver for social transformation and highlighted dignity and respect as cornerstones of the public policies that have allowed the city to evolve. Various PUI promoted social inclusion through community housing, transportation and connectivity, library parks, and recovery of public spaces. Fajardo explained that the case of Medellin demonstrates how physical planning and strategic investment in infrastructure and social development are the basis for sustainable urban planning.