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See detailAnalyzing Sustainable and Emerging Cities. The Inter-American Development Bank and Spatial Transformations
Mejia Idarraga, Santiago UL

Doctoral thesis (2020)

This research analyzes the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) through examination of the transfer of innovation between an influential city, Medellín ... [more ▼]

This research analyzes the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) through examination of the transfer of innovation between an influential city, Medellín (Colombia), and a host city, Xalapa (Mexico) which participated in the ESCI. It uses categories of quality of democracy to evaluate decision-making in the regionalization process of urban transformation initiatives. The study illustrates how Medellín’s experience of social urbanism is not exportable due to particular existing conditions which are not repeated in other Latin American cities, such as Xalapa. Furthermore, this research demonstrates the existence of a dysfunctional standardized region embodied by the processes proposed by the IDB. The Inter-American Development Bank developed the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative between 2012 and 2019 in 77 cities of the American continent. This initiative is influenced by Medellín, which institutionalizes a model of spatial intervention known as 'social urbanism' or 'transformation of Medellín.' The IDB exports the publicized success of the Medellín model to intermediate cities in various countries with varying results. In the case of Xalapa, Mexico, the initiative had a negative effect because it did not go beyond the implementation stage. The causes of non-execution are symptoms of a problem in the design of the regionalization strategy that fails to homogenize urban planning techniques between diverse territorialities. The objective of the research was to analyze a transfer of urban development programs between territories at the nano-level and regional institutions at the macro-level, which create a new regional integration system through urban planning projects. The analysis of the implementation of macro-regional programs in nano urban regions was carried out through a multilevel analysis and a comparative study, combining qualitative and quantitative mixed approaches in Medellín and Xalapa. Data collection included a literature review utilizing the PRISMA method, elaboration of a map of actors, and semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed through the categories of Quality of Democracy. As a result, I developed categories extracted from the Quality of Democracy for the analysis of urban projects. The results of a triangulation of interview-type sources, a review of indicators, and press releases yielded values that show no incidence of democratic quality in decision-making processes for the implementation of regionalized projects. This opens discussions on legality, accountability, freedom, equity, and auditing in the implementation of regional initiatives. I conclude that there is a parabola of regionalization of citizen initiatives whose origin is in nano territories. This initiative is regionalized by the Inter-American Development Bank through the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative, in a dysfunctional standard regionalization process. This process fails due to structural divergences in political culture, normative design, decision-making processes, and normative incoherence among the cities participating in the parabola. [less ▲]

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