The city oMedellín in Colombia has been transformed by strategies for people, places and jobs, writes Ivan Turok.
The transformation of the Colombian city of Medellín from the most violent in the world in the early 1990s to one of the most progressive stood out like a beacon at the World Urban Forum, hosted there last month.
Medellín was on the brink of self-destruction, sparked by drug-related conflict fed by profound inequality, but a consensus emerged that social divisions had to be repaired and political differences subsumed in the broader public interest.
This loose social compact laid the foundations for a remarkable turnaround in the city’s fortunes, including a tenfold reduction in the homicide rate. Forum presentations brought alive the massive effort to combine forces across the political and ideological spectrum. City institutions linked up with other spheres of government to push a bold vision of “social urbanism”, an idea intent on breaking the cycle of industrial decline, poverty and drug-linked turbulence by tackling the root causes of these problems.