International Forum

International Forum: Remaking Emerging Cities to Guide Urban Growth and Infrastructure

Topics and speakers confirmed as of May 6. 

Setting the Stage: Overview of Global Urban Challenges 
Anjali Mahendra, Ph.D., Director of Research, World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Cities 

The world urban population will double from 3.5 billion to over 7 billion in the next 40 years with 8 of 10 people expected to live in cities by the year 2060. This means that half of the communities that will exist within the lifetime of our children have not been built yet. People are also living longer: the global population of people 60 years or over is expected to more than double in the next three decades. Moreover, global warming is occurring faster than predicted, increasing extreme weather events and changing the environmental conditions that may cause tens of millions of people to be displaced. Much of this change will take place in countries where the average person lives under $20,000 annually. 

Keynote Presentation: Redesigning Rapidly Growing Cities 
Juan Camilo Gonzalez, North City General Manager, Bogota, Colombia

By 2050, Bogota is expected to double the 2.6 million homes it currently has. With an existing urban infrastructure that presents significant challenges in terms of mobility, segregation and access to public green space, an inspired approach to urban planning will determine the quality of life of sustainability of millions of people. Nine miles north of the city, a green belt was established in 2000 with the objectives of preventing the city from growing and generating environmental connectivity.  However, the green belt has failed to generate the environmental restoration around the city that was envisioned.  An ambitious effort is underway to convert the environmental reserve into a public resource, restore it with 3,200 acres of parks, pedestrian friendly design including protected bikeways and 12-foot sidewalks and design a new sustainable city of 450,000 homes around it. All land owners will become shareholders in proportion to the size and placement of their parcels. This project builds on two similar projects moving forward in Bogota, which are the first of their kind in Latin America.

Keynote Presentation: Reinvigorating a River and a City
Dr. Yılmaz Büyükerşen, Mayor, City of Eskisehir

Eskisehir is one of 5 cities from around the world selected by World Resources Institute as a finalist for the Ross Prize for Cities. The city is being recognized for its dramatic transformation over the last two decades, going from a flood prone city with one of the most polluted rivers in Turkey, to being a green and sustainable city with efficient transport networks.   The city has cleaned the river and revitalized the central river corridor with a network of parks, trails and civic spaces, a transformation that has improved daily life for residents while significantly boosting the economy.

Panel Session: Creating Family-Friendly Downtowns 

Many cities are reimagining their urban centers to be places where people of all ages can live. And some are having great success. Learn how three cities from around the world are using creative partnerships around programming and place-based development to make the urban realm meet human needs for play and creative interaction. 

Moderator: Gil Penalosa, Founder & Chair, 8-80 Cities
Speaker: Mayor Erion Veliaj, Tirana, Albania
Speaker: Dave Hutch, Director, Planning and Park Development, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
Speaker: Jennifer Smith, Program Director, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy


The International Forum is presented in partnership with World Urban Parks.

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"Six years ago I stumbled upon Greater & Greener and City Parks Alliance's websites, and six months later [I attended Greater & Greener 2012 in New York].

Greater & Greener changed my life, and I hope the conference inspires many to change the lives of others in their communities." 

Luis Romahn - Presidente Associación Nacional de Parques y Recreación