The city of Bogotá, capital city of Colombia has been welcomed into the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme (UNGCCP) as its newest city. Participating at the Reporting level, Bogotá has committed to report annually on its efforts to advance the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. In so doing, one of Latin America’s largest and most vibrant cities, on behalf of its almost 8,000,000 inhabitants, will pledge to an accord to the respect of human rights, labour standards, respect of the environment and anti-corruption measures. The largest city in Colombia, its motto – ‘Bogotá, 2600 metros más cerca de las estrellas’ – is testament to its location 2,625 metres above sea level on the West of a high plateau above the Andes.
Like other Latin American cities, Bogotá faces enormous challenges in addressing the needs of its citizens and combating poverty while reducing air pollution, adapting to climate change, and ensuring a sustainable future for the city, Colombia, and the world. It is making great strides, having already established a reputation for innovation and sustainability, particularly in terms of mobility and mass transportation. Significant developments within the past 15 years include the Ciclorutas de Bogotá, one of the world’s most extensive and comprehensive networks of bike paths (303 km), and the TransMilenio network, a separated high-capacity bus rapid transit system spanning 87 km which has been closely emulated by many other highly-congested cities since opening in 2000.
The City of Bogotá is committed to sustainable development and the reduction of social segregation across the city. It is committed to the strengthening of anti-corruption measures and fighting for government against vested interests and an easing of urban sprawl in alignment with the environmental principles of the UN Global Compact. In sum, the City is restructuring its transportation system in order to facilitate sustainable practices and increase the efficacy and public use of multiple types of transportation across Bogotá’s metropolitan region. Progressive and cohesive urban planning and design, at the behest of a number of innovative mayors, has connected different parts of the community and increased the safety and use of public spaces across the city.
Current Alcalde Mayor de Bogotá Gustavo Petro is the latest of these city leaders, elected in late 2011. His goals for his tenure as mayor form the four pillars of his five-year plan for the city, entitled ‘Bogotá Humana’. These pillars are:
- A commitment to the combat of social segregation, building an inclusive, dignified and equitable city.
- A commitment to climate change adaptation, building and developing a city that is revitalised and does not depreciate nature.
- A commitment to fighting corruption and defending the public and their government against private interests, strenghtening democratic principles through citizen participation.
- A commitment to care and reparation for the victims of rights offences and social segregation.
Bogotà’s relationship with the UN Global Compact has been developing profoundly over recent times. The city was introduced to the Compact through the Columbia Global Compact network – see http://www.pactoglobal-colombia.org/ . Alcalde Petro Gustavo was scheduled to speak at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, presenting at the ‘Sustainable Cities: Global Challenges – Local Solutions’ session hosted by UNGCCP. To great disappointment, however, the mayor ‘s appearance was cancelled due to the need for emergency surgery to remove a brain haemotoma.
Health challenges have not limited Alcalde Petro’s efforts with his city, nationally in Colombia, and across the continent. He recently convened a meeting between the mayors on nine of the great cities and political authorities of Latin America – Lima, Quito, Buenos Aires, Sucre, Caracas, Asuncion, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro and Bogotá. During this meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, recognising the role of local government authorities as managers of sustainable development, good governance, and the promotion of the rights of all citizens. The mayor and governing authority of the city of Bogotá, demonstrate progress and the strengthening of participatory democracy is best achieved in solidarity with these other cities.
Alcalde Mayor Gustavo Petro recently appointed Jorge Rojas Rodriguez as the Secretary to the Government of the city of Bogotá. On assuming this role, Sr Rojas proclaimed that ‘el reto es asumir la Agenda planteada por el alcalde Gustavo Petro, que es la agenda de la inclusión social, de la equidad social, de la democracia y los derechos humanos y, con mucho énfasis, la agenda de las víctimas, pero es una tarea de relación política y social con una ciudad que necesita cambiar y necesita transformarse’ ['The challenge is to take the agenda proposed by the mayor Gustavo Petro, that is the agenda of social inclusion, of social equity, of democracy and human rights and, emphatically, the agenda of the victims, but it is a task of social and political relations with a city that needs to change and needs to transform itself'].
It is in this spirit, recognising that positive transformation and development is an active and community-oriented process, that the city of Bogotá is proudly welcomed into the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme.
Report Author: Joseph Comer, UN Global Compact Cities Programme