2016 Medellín, Colombia
Nominated as Knowledge City-Region, Medellin, Colombia is the second largest city in Colombia and the country'scapital of entrepeneurship.
Medellin, has recently become the focal point of Colombia's renaissance. Medellin was once ground zero for Colombia’s drug wars but has since been in an ongoing state of revival. The city ramped up law enforcement personnel and technology — in parallel with broader domestic security priorities — to better crackdown on the drug cartels, gangs and militias. Medellin’s homicide rate has decreased twentyfold since 1991 and murders are now 95 percent less per capita than they were 25 years ago. An important component was also the city’s use of urban planning to empower its citizens. City officials drew up a number of municipal projects and interventions to promote greater social inclusion through creative urban design and architectural planning — a process now referred to as “social urbanism.”
Medellin is home to perhaps the world’s most famous urban escalators and cable cars that connect lower-income neighborhoods to central nodes of the city, empowering citizens with a greater degree of mobility. Parks, libraries and city squares have been refurbished to provide a stronger sense of ownership and inclusion in the city’s public spaces.
Together they have earned Medellin much international acclaim. In 2009 Medellin won the Curry Stone Design Prize — an annual award for innovative excellence in humanitarian design. In 2012 the Urban Land Institute, an international nonprofit, named Medellin “Innovative City of the Year.” And earlier this year Medellin was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, named after Singapore’s first prime minister, for its sustainable urban design.
The “Medellin Model” will likely garner a lot of attention at the United Nations Habitat III summit next month when world leaders convene to approve a “New Urban Agenda” of policies and strategies for sustainable urban development. A key agenda item for Habitat III is the issue of inclusive societies. With more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities, for all their economic vibrancy, have also given rise to stark inequalities. Many municipal leaders will be keen to study the approach taken by Medellin to reduce violence and promote greater social inclusion (https://www.devex.com/news/don-t-call-medellin-a-model-city-88707).