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TLDR? Medellin is one of the most eco-friendly cities in the tropics!
Medellin, recognized for being one of the most progressive and advanced in Colombia, has managed to create movements around ecology and sustainability.
Even if you’re not a big eco-conscious hippie, it’s still cool to learn a little bit more about sustainability in the city.
In this guide, we’ll discuss Medellin’s journey to becoming more sustainable and why it has become a city committed to green living.
In 2003, after a time of conflict in the city, the idea of a ‘social urbanism’ emerged, focused on the sustainable development of disadvantaged neighborhoods. The idea was to change the focus of violence in the city and instead promote positive social change.
Medellin has actually made innovative headlines for being such a green city. In fact, back in March 2014, it was recognized for being the most innovative city in the world and an award for being one of the most sustainable cities on the planet.
On top of that, The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) recognized Medellin as a city committed to sustainable development and mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
They highlighted improvements and initiatives in the city, such as the integrated public transport system that runs on electricity and reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses, as well as the Parques del Rio project and the Green Belt of the Metropolitan Area.
WWF explained that the well-being of citizens depends on how the city is designed, and Medellin, thanks to its sustainable projects, has a design that is increasingly focused on improving this quality of life. They do so through methods such as transportation, waste management, and green areas, among others.
Approximately 20 years ago, the City of Eternal Spring began to transform slowly but progressively with respect to public transport.
In 1995, the Medellín’s metro was inaugurated, which to date is the only one in Colombia. But in addition to this, it’s a system that has been expanding and now has lines such as:
The Metro moves around 800,000 people a day, generally from socioeconomic strata 1, 2, and 3. In doing so, it avoids the emission of tons of CO2 and the consumption of millions of gallons of diesel.
In addition, the 80 Metro project is currently being managed to connect with the western area of the city, called Line E of ‘Eco City.
There’s also the public bicycle system that the city implemented less than ten years ago, and that has been advancing and growing significantly. It’s a part of the metro system and helps promote sustainable movement in the city.
The construction of mobility corridors brings with it development for all the sectors involved. As a result, Medellin is now full of cultural centers, parks, libraries, and the like in all areas.
The quality of air in Medellin has been a problem for the city for a number of years. The issue becomes especially tense during specific times of year.
Given this, the authorities and different administrations have taken measures that promote the use of public transport as well as the bicycle. There are also initiatives such as the ‘day without a car’ in which only cars that run on gas or electricity are allowed to move around the city.
To get around by bicycle, the city has built more and more kilometers of bicycle paths or spaces destined solely for the mobilization of people on without a motor. This has helped reduce CO2 emmissions.
Likewise, the ‘pico y placa” is an effective strategy that, in addition to cooperating with the environment, works towards smooth mobility during hours of high vehicular flow. This strategy limits the number of cars on the road on certain days, depending on the number plate a vehicle has.
Medellin’s Land Management Plan has managed to conserve and build more and more public spaces for the enjoyment of citizens. Over the last 20 years, some of the places that have been built include:
On top of that, the city maintains multiple green corridors and is working on a project that focuses on the transformation of old parks into spaces for recreation, culture, and nature.
These green spaces around the city are also made up of 230 species and 150 types of trees, as well as 80 types of gardens. In 2014, the city registered 400,000 trees in the entire urban area. But experts say that the figure could have doubled by today’s figures.
The School of Engineers of Antioquia states that this amount of urban vegetation can control about 11,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year and 115 tons of other polluting elements.
Currently, the city has a high budget that continually seeks to improve and invest in sustainability.
One of the things I love about Medellin as a foreigner is the unsurpassed number of natural places in the middle of the city.
If you want to take advantage of these urban projects, there are tons of places to check out around the city. Here are a few of my favorites.
This nature reserve is a green paradise where you can enjoy some of the best hiking in the city. As soon as you arrive at the park, you feel the difference in the air.
Here you can also go on bike or picnic tours. Just remember to contribute to the sustainability of the city and to pack out what you pack in.
Address: Vía a Piedras Blancas, Medellín, Antioquia.
This is another place you can visit just by taking the cable metro. White stone park is just ten minutes from Arví Park and has some great hiking and boat rides.
They’ve also got a butterfly garden. Or, you can take a look at the insect museum.
Address: Kilómetro 14 antigua vía Piedras Blancas, Guarne, Santa Elena, Antioquia.
In addition to being a great option for sports or hiking, Nutibara Hill is also home to the famous Pueblito Paisa. There, you can enjoy views of the city, check out what life was like back in the day, and take a tour of the City Museum.
Address: Calle 30 a, AutoSur, Medellín, Antioquia.
You can’t leave the botanical garden off your to-do list when visiting Medellin. Here you need to make your guide through the butterfly house and take a tour of the gardens full of different types of plants, including some historical species.
Address: Cl. 73 #51d-14, Medellín, Aranjuez, Medellín, Antioquia
If you’re more adventurous and want to get out of the city, you can visit this nature reserve on the outskirts of Medellin. Paramillo Park is a place with tons of hiking and wildlife sightings. It’s a bit farther from Medellin, so it’s a nice place to go for a day trip.
If you’re staying in Medellin for any amount of time, there are a few different ways that you can help minimize air pollution and promote green thinking. Here are some ways you can help support Medellin’s sustainability movement.
Medellin has the advantage of having a bike rental system within the public transportation system. So, you have no excuses not to rent a bike from time to time and get around the city differently.
The En Cicla system, as it’s called, is quite simple to use. You just have to have your Civic card, register on the website and follow the activation steps.
Another great option to help people, the environment, and entrepreneurship in Medellín, is to donate your used items to local organizations.
Medellín has some foundations, especially for women and children, where you can make donations that give back to those in need.
On the other hand, second-hand stores in Medellín have also started to pop up. You can choose to shop there rather than at the malls to help support their positive impact on the environment and paisa entrepreneurship.
The city’s garbage system has several different waste management strategies. Separating your waste is one of them.
The most common colors for waste separation that you can find in Medellín are:
Medellin is the second city in Colombia that has received many awards for technology, innovation, and sustainability.
There are more and more movements in this city to promote ecological living. Visit this city and let yourself be surprised by all the advances of this city with a vision of the future!
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