Colombia’s second city Medellin has beaten Tel Aviv and New York Friday, to be named City of the Year, in a competition sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and Citigroup.
By analyzing 200 of the most innovative cities in the world, Citi, WSJ and Urban Land Institute narrowed the field down to 25 in 2012, and then asked the public to vote the top three.
Events were held in the three cities to drum up enthusiasm for the competition, and Medellin saw off stiff competition from New York and Tel Aviv to become City of the Year on March 1. Organizers described the response from Medellin as “overwhelming.”
FACT SHEET: Medellin economy statistics
Medellin “originally distinguished for its progress and potential,” was commended for initiatives to increase mobility and environmental sustainability. Medellin boasts an efficient metro and gondola system, which have opened up the city and allow people to access the center easily from homes high up on the steep valley sides.
Urban Land Institute said the “most innovative cities spark visions, remove barriers and cultivate collaboration to improve the quality of life for residents,” which is why Medellin was singled out as City of the Year.
Long known as a city run by drug lords, Medellin has transformed that reputation over the last two decades, reducing its murder rate nearly 80% between 1991 and 2010. The city has built libraries, schools and community centers in disadvantaged neighborhoods where local government, businesses, community and education organizations are working together to stamp out violence and intimidation.
FACT SHEET: Medellin violence statistics
Public-private partnerships finance projects including Parque Explora, Medellin’s interactive science museum. Engineering firms have even designed public buildings for free. Medellin has also successfully implemented participatory budgeting, which allows citizens to take part in making decisions on public spending.
While still a city healing the scars of a violent history, Medellin has used leadership and initiative to move towards becoming a hub of innovation, investment and entrepreneurism.
- City of the Year (WSJ online)