More than 1,000 urban actors and UN-Habitat´s partners came together on Wednesday in Colombia’s oldest city, Santa Marta for the Second National Urban Forum under the theme “Prospering Cities: Equity, Sustainability and Governance”.
The event was graced by the participation of the Vice President of the Republic, Mr. Angelino Garzon; the Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Mr. Luis Felipe Henao; the Mayor of Santa Marta, Mr. Carlos Caicedo, and the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos. The Vice President expressed the willingness and commitment to work on empowering local governments, and he called for the extension of political terms for Mayors in Colombia, which is currently fixed at one term with without the possibility of a reelection. In his statement, Dr. Clos encouraged Colombia to lead with energy the transformation of urban areas as a conduit for reaching equity among citizenship.
The National Urban Forum was preceded with 19 preparatory meetings around the national territory to discuss about the Colombian agenda on sustainable urban development. The diagnosis of these meetings will serve as basis for the national preparations towards the World Urban Forum 7, to be held in Medellin from 5-11 April 2014.
Santa Marta, with 454,860 habitants, is the third major urban center of the Caribbean Region in Colombia, after Barranquilla and Cartagena, and the major port for the country. UN-Habitat, under the ASUD “Achieving Sustainable Urban Development”, is collaborating with the local government on strengthening strategic policies on the city’s development plan and planning the city extension. Santa Marta also joined the I’m a City Changer Campaign of UN-Habitat, celebrating an event with the community of Taganga’s neighborhood led by the Colombian actress and model, Taliana Vargas, in which children painted their own house’s facades and public spaces.