Webinar with ACI Medellin – Lessons and Next Steps of a City Knowledge Hub

Southern solutions are in high demand in an increasingly multipolar world, and cities have been particularly innovative when it comes to work towards sustainable development and inclusive growth. Medellin in Colombia is an outstanding example of urban transformation that inspires other subnational governments around the world. With sound political leadership, smart policies and a committed public sector, Medellin has come a long way from being a violence-ridden place which travelers were warned against less than 20 years ago, to a true hub of economic and social innovation. Highly effective models such as its multi-sector approach to citizen security and the groundbreaking investments in public transportation infrastructure (including the famous Metrocable), both geared towards improving the day-to-day life of its 2.3 million inhabitants, have been requested by numerous municipal authorities both inside Colombia and abroad.

Among the key achievements, ACI has succeeded in capturing a first generation of best practices called the Medellin Lab (2009), creating a regional coordination mechanism (2012), endorsing a South-South Cooperation Strategy (2013) and launching a dedicated Knowledge Management Team (2014). City leadership has provided consistent support to ACI and understands the value of projecting Medellin’s solutions internationally. In the past years, systematization of experiences, content design and KS modalities have been prioritized, while institutional capacities strengthened with a knowledge-focused unit that now comprises eight full-time staff. Overall, through ACI, Medellin has become more and more visible in Latin America and the world, being a proactive member of a number of city networks (such as AL-LAs and Municipia), hosting the 2014 World Urban Forum convened by UN-Habitat and inspiring with its clear-cut experiences the 2014 Knowledge Hubs Meeting in Seoul.

Against this dynamic background, ACI plans to further upgrade its institutional and operational capacities to share knowledge. In terms of enabling environment, the team driving the agency’s knowledge agenda will be consolidated and synergies with other ACI units strengthened. Particular focus will be given to incentives to capture and share experiences not only of ACI, but of Medellin’s government as a whole, as well a better information systems. To improve technical skills for KS, ACI plans to work on a second generation of best practices, mainly focusing on Ruta N, an innovation platform; Empresas Públicas de Medellin (EMP), the public utility company which operates nation-wide; and the Buen Comienzo program geared towards vulnerable infants, children and their families. Criteria to select solutions have been clarified and are in line with the criteria catalogue facilitated by the Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation (APC), the national authority for coordinating cooperation.

Exchanging with the webinar’s attendees, the ACI team also stressed areas of interest that might be deepened in e-discussions in the Knowledge Hubs community (become a member here). Key questiones relate to:

  • Getting the private sector fully on board of a city’s or country’s KS agenda, taking advantage of the nexus of investment, innovation and business internationalization
  • Selecting the right people to prepare, conduct and follow-up on KS activities, and ensuring that they are sufficiently qualified, motivated and rewarded (incentives)
  • Monitoring and evaluating results and impact of KS, and communicating these benefits at the political and strategic level

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The ACI team was comprised by María Luisa Zapata (Deputy Director for Knowledge Management), as well as Alejandra Velásquez and Andrea Velázquez (both Advisors for International Relations). More information on ACI can be found at its website http://www.acimedellin.org and Twitter account @acimedellin.

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Mapping Multilateral Support to South-South Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Towards Collaborative Approaches. UNDP, 2011. Download PDF (English version) (Versión en Español)

 

IDB  Magazine - Regional Public Goods: An innovative approach to South-South Cooperation, 2014 version here in English and Spanish.

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