Bogota 16 October 2015—More than 500 participants converged in Bogota for the 3rd National Urban Forum which explored the challenges of post-conflict management Colombian cities. The opening session was attended by the President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon; Minister of Housing and Town Planning, Luis Felipe Henao; the Director of the National Planning Department, Simon Gaviria Muñoz; President of the National Savings Fund, Augusto Posada; and Habitat Programme Manager, Edgar Cataño Sánchez.
The Forum was organized by UN-Habitat with the support of the newspaper El Tiempo, the National Savings Fund and the Foundation Mario Santo Domingo. In his speech, President Santos expressed optimism with the Havana peace agreement and stressed that “in a country where 3 out of 4 people live in different cities inclusive urban solutions are needed.”
“Peace is not achieved only with the silence of the guns, but by building a more inclusive, equitable, cohesive and secure society” said Mr. Catano, during the opening ceremony. The 3rd National Urban Forum just two weeks before the local elections in Colombia is no coincidence, it seeks to encourage new rulers, who will come into office in January 2016, to work closer with the national government & International cooperation towards the sustainable development of their territories, with special attention to regional development and the reduction of rural-urban inequities currently present in the country.
Mayors of Manizales, Santa Marta, Valledupar, Monteria, Cartagena, Tunja and Quibdo shared their successes in the three thematic panels on governance, planning and finance developed in the Forum. A special case was presented by Bucaramanga, which showed the unprecedented experience in formulating its Comprehensive Plan of Metropolitan Development – PIDM based on the vision of urban prosperity promoted by UN-Habitat.
The colombian economist Luis Jorge Garay presented the preliminary findings of the State of the Urban Youth report, UN-Habitat prepared in Colombia. Emphasis was placed on the findings related to the obstacles and challenges of youth social mobility. The next National Urban Forum is planned to for the first semester of 2016 and serve as preparation for Colombia to the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development – Habitat III, which will be in Quito, ecuador, in October 2016.