Green Politics in Latin American Cities: Sustainable Transport Agendas

Carlos Cadena Gaitán, UNU-MERIT

This dissertation studies the relationship between political and institutional factors in Latin American cities, and the sustainability level of their urban transport systems. This research contributes with a unique in-depth analysis of the transport sustainability context for Curitiba (Brazil), Guadalajara (Mexico), and Medellín (Colombia).

The urban population in our world is growing rapidly. The rate of urban demographic growth in some developing world regions also takes place in an often chaotic and disorderly way. The exponential growth of urban populations is being accompanied by unprecedented destruction of urban ecosystems and an indiscriminate use of finite natural resources, resulting in manifest environmental catastrophes in urban areas. One specific area to tackle when studying urban sustainability concerns transport systems. These, not only are inherently tied to the urban levels of environmental pollution and congestion, but also deal with the vital structure that allows citizens to mobilize, and thus, fulfil their social and economic needs.

Car dependency is one of the key phenomena to consider. It implies that cities where cars are the predominant transport mode, deny their citizens freedom of choice about the way they live and move around the city. Unfortunately, this car-dependency generates serious social, environmental and economic damages. This dissertation tackles this problem, and attempts to measure attempts at promoting more sustainable transport systems in Latin American cities.

About the speaker
Mr. Cadena Gaitán is a PhD Research Fellow at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, within UNU-MERIT. Previous to his current post, Mr. Cadena Gaitán accumulated a breadth of experiences in different industries. He worked for a government relations agency in Washington D.C, and collaborated with the International Cooperation Agency of Medellín, The Carter Center in Atlanta and the New York City Department of Health. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (Georgia State University), and a B.A in Business Management from the McCamish School of Business (Reinhardt University). An avid biker and tennis player, Mr. Cadena Gaitán is also a columnist for several media outlets in Colombia, and co-founder of La Ciudad Verde (, a not-for-profit organization advocating for urban sustainability in Colombia.

Venue: Aula, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht

Date: 16 October 2014

Time: 16:00  CET