Paseo Bolivar, Medellín

By Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga

Medellín is a fascinating city. Precisely, what makes our present so valuable is our past. After living through terrible episodes of fear and violence in the 80s and 90s, our society learned how to rebuild itself and is a reference of transformation in the world today.

During this path, we have learned the importance of aligning ourselves with the global agenda and of planning our advances in the mid and long terms. This is why we have thought of ourselves in terms of the challenges all the world’s cities face, en route to what 193 world leaders defined in 2015: the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – which aim for the elimination of extreme poverty, of inequality and injustice and answer to a global sustainability agenda.

As part of the strive for a more equitable and inclusive city, in social and territorial terms, from the beginning of our Government, we decided to incorporate 70% of the SDGs to the 2016-2019 Development Plan: Medellín Cuenta con vos. Not all objectives are included, since some are not applicable, as for instance, the protection of oceans.

Medellín met the universal call of the United Nations Program to put an end to poverty, protect the planet and guarantee that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Our Development Plan makes up the city’s route map and contains a work agenda focussed on persons, prosperity, peace, the planet and its partnerships, the five thematic focuses defined by the UN that answer to the three dimensions which make up sustainability: social, economic and environmental.

70% of the Sustainable Development Goal indicators are incorporated to the 2016-2019 Development Plan.

The focus on people covers five of the SDGs: an end to poverty, zero hunger, health and welfare, quality of education and gender equality. We have made significant advances in this sense. For example, Education is the Development Plan line with the highest allotted budget. This is due to our conviction and need that children achieve their dreams within the framework of legality, that children become “experts” but in the realm of medicine, science and art, that they are educated personally and professionally and contribute to the economic and social development of the city.

Among the main advances are the increase in coverage of the Buen Comienzo (Good Start) Program, which went from 69.2% in 2015 to 78.7% in 2017, and the decrease in illiteracy rates and school desertion. In addition, there is an evident improvement in the quality of education in schools, an increase in scholarships for undergraduate education and 300 scholarships for masters programs for our teachers between 2017 and 2019. Moreover, UNESCO recognized Medellín as a Learning City, integrating it to a group of a mere 14 Latin American cities that stand out for their efforts in achieving quality education along the life of their inhabitants.

The goal is for Medellín to reach, in 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals that were globally defined, for which a city agenda has been made hand-in-hand with the private sector and academia.

In this focus of Prosperity, associated to economic development and to which other SDGs are linked: accessible and non-polluting energy, decent employment and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduction of inequality and sustainable cities and communities, the city has a public policy for economic development that is supported by knowledge as a starting point for productivity, generation of employment and improvement in competitiveness. Proof of this is that the city currently invests 2.14% of its Gross Domestic Product in activities of science, technology and innovation. Our goal was to reach 3% in 2021 but we will surely meet that goal prior to that.

With regards to the focus of Peace, the world is witness to our efforts to overcome the past to building a just society that is inclusive and violence-free. This is why we have begun an ethical fight against illegality and criminal activities, which has been showing results. Notwithstanding, we are convinced that social investment is key and that transformation is achieved from within people and families, which is why we have been giving, hand-in-hand with my wife, Margarita, workshops in positive discipline and rearing in the most vulnerable zones in the city.

Medellín has a work plan focused on people, prosperity, peace, the planet and alliances. Photo, visitor to the Book Festival at the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden.

This sustainability agenda is an opportunity to articulate efforts among public and private institutions and civil society, thus improving the quality of life of people.

In the Planet thematic focus, sustainable mobility projects are our priority because they will enable us to improve the quality of the air we breath. We have advanced in renovation of vehicles, entry of electric cabs and the first articulated bus working with electric energy. We have increased the number of eco-stations, invested more than COP$76,000 million in the adaptation of bike routes, COP$298,000 million in the Picacho Metrocable and COP$45,000 million in the 30 green corridors in the city.

In the Partnership focus, we are clear in the knowledge that these are key for the development of the city and must be centered on the needs of the most vulnerable population. On 2016 and 2017, Foreign Direct Investment totalled USD 583 million and resources for cooperation amounted to USD 12.8 million. Ten South-South cooperation partnerships have been established and 52 projects have benefitted from the agreements for international cooperation.

We know these achievements are significant but are also aware that this is a long term process which began in previous years and to which we have given continuity. However, there is still much work to do. Notwithstanding, we are satisfied, because each invested resource corresponds to the Development Plan and the route map that was created with responsibility and stemming from the diagnosis of a city which began a transformation process, but that must keep working so that these achievements render the well-being of the population.

Content of the Revista Link 2018

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