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04 de November de 2017Latin American leaders called for cities to be the center of regional development.

During the first day of the CAF Cities with a Future conference, international experts, ministers and mayors from around Latin American called for cities to become the main engines of economic growth and social inclusion, by orderly planning, progress in urban resilience and improvements in providing public services.

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>Reduce social exclusion, plan better, increase productivity, improve urban resilience and provide quality public services. These are the most pressing challenges that cities in the region will face in the coming decades, according to the international experts who convened in Lima at the Cities with a Future conference organized by CAF, the Latin American development bank, held on November 2 and 3.

On the first day of the event, experts concluded that to address these challenges efficiently, it was essential that all public authorities work together to promote an urban agenda in which the community is the key player and that incorporates the transportation, housing, employment, road networks, infrastructure and environment sectors. 

<“Latin America is facing the challenge of turning cities into areas of opportunity,” said Gabriela Michetti, Vice-President of Argentina. Tackling housing problems is a priority and state policy in Argentina, where one of its main objectives is to solve the problem of the housing shortage and to promote universalization of access to basic services,” she said.

Ms. Michetti stressed that Argentina had increased its budget for the National Housing Plan six times, and that urban planning was an essential part of the three cornerstones of government policy (the fight against poverty, combating drug trafficking and promoting community participation). She also considers it vital that all levels of government work together to ensure that urban action brings about a change in community awareness.

In turn, Carlos Bruce Montes de Oca, the Peruvian Minister for Housing, Construction and Sanitation, said that to solve the problem of informal settlements and difficulty in access to housing, cross-sectional action had to be taken to improve living conditions. He went on to say that “new governance is based on the liaison between government departments and sectors, an improvement in capabilities and transparent management that brings together all players involved.”

Paulina Saball, the Chilean Minister of Housing and Urban Planning, explained that “access to housing is not just a question of having access to something physical, but also to services that allow you to live well, become part of the community, strengthen people’s identity, create jobs and stimulate growth.”

>Carlos Basombrio Iglesias, Peruvian Minister of the Interior, said that one of the main problems faced by Peruvian and Latin American cities is a lack of security. He presented a number of initiatives to counteract the problem, such as the “Safe Communities”, a project that aims to reduce the rate of crime and violence through a combination of community-based prevention in troubled neighborhoods and creating opportunities for the people who live there.   

With regard to the capability of cities to mitigate the effects of extreme natural phenomena, Fernando Leon Morales, the Peruvian Deputy Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources, said that “the concept of resilience must be a part of the process for defining policies and making decisions locally, regionally and nationwide. We have to bring together the concepts of risk, disaster, resilience and climate change in developmental planning.”<

Yolanda Kakabadse, President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) pointed out that “we cannot think of a city of the future if we do not reestablish the link between cities and the country, if we do not reconsider where water comes from and how we use it, where energy comes from and how we use it, or if we don't know where food comes from or realize how ecosystems are deteriorating.”

Looking to the future, Nicolas Galarza of New York University considered that it is necessary to take “specific action” to set out orderly expansion in such a way that we do not have to continue urban planning in a reactive manner. We propose minimalist intervention based on road rights networks that will serve as a backbone.”

Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito, said that the world’s cities are facing two fundamental challenges: climate change and migration. Latin America must develop the capabilities needed to meet these challenges.

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