19 Jan 2016
El Cinturón Verde Metropolitano – Medellin

Medellin has come a long way in recent years with a focus on sustainable growth, community building and improving public spaces. Large-scale constructions of schools, libraries, green spaces, culture and knowledge centres have contributed in the development of Medellin as the Innovative City of the year. The community based approach, with a focus on the vulnerable and poorest areas has implied that the attitude and sense of belonging to the city has changed in a very positive manner, which is highly important as it is stated that community engagement is vital in the conservation of these new developments. As the second largest city in Colombia, it has now taken up an innovative approach on tackling city sprawl.

The Green belt project is a plan to build a 75 kilometres long park on the slopes of the Aburra Valley surrounding the city. It outlines a balanced territory between urban and rural areas. The stated objectives of the Greenbelt Plan are: environmental and economic sustainability, citizen participation, improvement of housing, mobility, security and coexistence. The project also plays a strategic role in restricting the city’s sprawl as the parks will be declared natural reserves. Hence the green belt is set to restrict the capacity for future city sprawl and also provide a space for public recreation away from city centres.

With aim of greening the area and sustainable development, the project includes public parks, pedestrian walkways, bike paths and a path only for electric and public transport. The Cinturon Verde is made up of four bands, with costs estimated at approximately 283 million US dollars, and will require cooperation between the state government and various mayor offices.

The Cities Programme visited the Green Belt in 2014

Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano (EDU) is the Medellin government body that is responsible for development projects in the city. As a major player in the transformation of Medellin, it provides services in design and consultancy, with high standards of quality, innovation and corporate social responsibility and recently hosted the Cities Programme in a site visit to El Cinturon Verde.

Video on the Cinturón Verde

The inner most strip of the belt, which is closest to the city is known as the urban consolidation and development strip which will consist of resettlement housing, new urban developments, public facilities and services. The second strip, known as the mobility strip consists of three layers: a hiking route, a bike path and path for green transport which will connect to existing networks. The next is a transition strip which is intended to include recreation and education facilities, eco-parks, and eco-orchards and other public spaces. The outermost strip of the belt will be dedicated to environmental protection.

Due to the size of the project, it will take several years to complete and will be built in four phases, the first two to be completed by the current administration.