In Salvador for the “More Sustainable and Kind City” conference, which was supported by Universidade Salvador (UNIFACS), the Colombian economist and urban planner Enrique Peñalosa visited UNIFACS and met with students and teachers from the Architecture and Urban Planning program as well as academic leaders from the post-graduate program in Regional and Urban Development, called PPDRU.
President of ITDP, an American NGO that provides technical assistance for the development of sustainable transportation systems in Asia, Africa and the Americas, Peñalosa led the city of Bogotá between 1998 and 2001, during which he was responsible for five megaprojects: the land bank, the district parks (including the Network of Bogotá Bike lanes); district libraries; TransMilenio (public transportation system) and the construction and maintenance of roads. His methods changed one of the most dangerous, violent and corrupt capitals of the world into a city that is considered a reference today.
"It was a great opportunity for the academic institution to dialogue closely with one of the world’s leading planners," says Professor Laumar Neves, who coordinates PPDRU. At the meeting with the UNIFACS academic community, Peñalosa talked about his urban thoughts, highlighting the plight of most cities in Latin America. "I believe in capitalism as the best way to manage the biggest part of society's resources. However, I understand that the lands around cities should have a public administration. And I think this is the source of most urban problems in Latin America".
Asked about the reality of Salvador, Peñalosa said the major challenges for urban planners there are to improve the organization of slums and streets, so the city could integrate different classes instead of segregating social strata. "Urban planning should build equality. Today we live in exclusionary environments where there is the rich person’s place and the poor person’s place and they simply never come together ". To him, the characteristics of urban organization are directly related to social problems such as violence. "You can’t expect peaceful and polite behavior from people who are treated with disrespect by society", he added.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.