Forty First Lecture

Forty First Lecture - September 14, 2010

“Perspectives from City Hall: Better Cities for Better Lives”

Speakers: Oscar Luis Castañeda, Mayor of Lima, Perú
Desmond McKenzie, Mayor of Kingston, Jamaica
Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia

Highlights from the Lecture

Mr. Desmond McKenzie started his speech by pointing out that he was honored to be invited to participate in the Lecture. He mentioned that safer cities are cities in which citizens not only feel secure from excessive crime and violence, but also protected by infrastructural and environmental security.

Kingston, which boasts an enormous commercial area and the finest natural harbor in the world, has experienced outflow of investors, because it has been overrun by large number of migrants seeking better opportunities. The rapidly expanding population and the burden of resources such as lack of schools and jobs limited the development of the city and drug dealing, crime and violence became a part of many people.

To overcome this difficult situation, the current administration, of which Mr. McKenzie is a part, has been implementing key strategies and actions under the Security and Justice Components of Vision 2030. Mr. McKenzie explained that this plan includes training police officers to create a partnership with citizens; launching the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division to deal with the trafficking of drugs and firearms; passing six crime bills to assist the police in dealing with the most dangerous criminals; and forming a Municipal Police and working on the creating the Municipal Court. Since then, murder has been down by 36% when compared with the corresponding period last year and 48% when compared with the preceding three months of this year.

Now Kingston is trying to foster development and growth of the city. The project has already started and includes implementing a number of social intervention programs for residents from volatile areas in the city; initiating skill training programs such as food preparation, office administration and cosmetology; refurbishing city’s main park; and building the Kingston Multimodal Transportation Center, Market District, Trade Center and Cultural Square.

Finally, Mr. McKenzie emphasized that the new paradigm for generating prosperity is the development of country’s higher forms of capital – the cultural, human, knowledge and institutional capital stocks – coupled with the reduction of inequality, which will move the society to the higher stage of development.

The second speaker, Mr. Enrique Peñalosa, started by highlighting the importance of urban security as a right for living without fear, which is fundamental for a good quality of life. However, in his opinion, the lack of legitimacy because of corruption and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean countries makes it difficult to build a secure city, since this hinders authorities to penalize crimes. Mr. Peñalosa clarified that legitimacy is the perception of citizens that their society is fair and impartial.

In this sense, Mr. Peñalosa presented two main policy pillars to obtain legitimacy, as well as security, which were practiced in Bogota during his administration. On the one hand, he tried to improve the perception of integrity of the city, which meant an honest government without corruption. Mr. Peñalosa also stressed the importance of the law enforcement without any special concession contrary to general interests.

On the other hand, Mr. Peñalosa proposed promoting equality as an instrument for urban security. This meant not a simple transfer of food and money to the poor, but the enhancement of self-esteem and self-confidence of the poor. For example, he mentioned that the new, clean and modernized pedestrian walk and public transportation offer the poor the feeling that they are the most important and respected; new parks, libraries and schools in marginalized areas send a message that their education and young people are important. He claimed that having a soccer field is more effective and positive than a police station” because it provides a public space for students and families to have a good time and know each other in a peaceful environment.

To conclude, Mr. Peñalosa demanded to reject materialism for the integration of the citizens and to give priority to human beings in order to protect and respect them and to give them every opportunity.

The third speaker, Mr. Oscar Luis Castañeda, pointed out the importance of competitiveness for cities in a globalized world. He confirmed that, to achieve those values, the cities with scarce resources like Lima have to consolidate and strengthen their infrastructure and quality of life, which means more culture, more public attention for health and no indifference as well as social inclusion.

Mr. Castañeda demonstrated how Lima could overcome some obstacles and challenges. In Lima, the Social Club was built where families get together to use the swimming pool and the gym; Health Buses, which is created by the combination of the public and private fund, attend citizens more economically and closely than any other social services; students can learn using computers with computing buses; the public transportation like buses runs with gas in order to prevent pollution; and there is a municipal ballet and there are theaters in the marginalized area of the city.

Mr. Castañeda stressed that urban security can be achieved by enhancing culture and social inclusion. He also insisted that cities have to be a society with high quality of life and to generate human development.

Full Notes in Spanish  Notes in English