After decades marked by violence and drug trafficking, this Colombian city managed in recent years to become a model of transformation and resilience for the world; In 2019, the World Economic Forum recognized Medellín for its high investment in science, technology and innovation activities. Unesco declared it a Learning City and it is the only one in Latin America with headquarters for the 4th Industrial Revolution – affiliated to the World Economic Forum. Today, its resilience and transformation capacity are focussed towards an effective control strategy for the COVID-19 contagion curve, which has given Medellin national and international recognition placing the city once again in the eye of the world.
Today, Medellín has managed to flatten the COVID-19 contagion curve more than it has been done in Latin America. It is the only city in the region that is part of the Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, the international group that works for economic recovery from the current crisis. The team is also made up of the mayors of other capitals such as Freetown (Sierra Leone), Hong Kong (China), Lisbon (Portugal), Rotterdam, (Netherlands), Melbourne (Australia), Montreal (Canada), New Orleans and Seattle (United States), Milan (Italy) and Seoul (South Korea).
Currently, Medellín is part of the Global Network of Resilient Cities, under the initiative Global Coalition: “Cities for a resilient recovery”. This project, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, and other strategic partners, seeks to partner cities to work together on strong recovery and repair the impacts of the virus on vulnerable communities. Medellín has been a member of the Network since 2013, when it was chosen as one of the 100 most resilient cities in the world.
Innovation is one of the pillars that has marked the resurgence of Medellín. Social innovation in particular is the strategy led for years in this city, which obtained international recognitions such as that granted by the Australian agency 2ThinkNow by cataloging Medellín as a world center of innovation. Also, the Lee Kuan Yew Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize” for urban planning and the election as the most innovative city in the world according to the Wall Street Journal and the Urban Land Institute.
Today, in the fight against COVID-19, Medellín maintains its leadership by advancing in tests for the creation of a robot with capacities to attend infected patients. Recently, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the production of mechanical fans – equipment developed at a cost of approximately US$1,300, well below the estimated US$45,000 that other more complex but very similar machines could cost.
Medellín has already gone through previous crisis recovery processes and has come out stronger. Currently, it is a city recognized for hosting important international events such as: the WISE @ Summit (World Summit on Innovation for Education), the World Conference of Scientific Journalists, the OAS General Assembly and the International Conference on Cities of Unesco apprenticeships, carried out in recent years. Proof of its capacity and strength to host events is its rise of 26 positions in the classification of the International Association of Congresses and Conventions (ICCA), which brings together the most representative people of the meeting industry in the world. In the most recent ranking published by this association, Medellín ranks 84th among more than 470 cities on five continents and ranks among the top ten in Latin America for attracting events.
During the current economic period, this Colombian city prepares to go out even more strongly to recover its tourism. In 2019, while the growth rate of international visitors in the world was 4%, for Medellín it was 19%. Recovering this positive behavior is the purpose for which public entities like The Medellín City Council and The Medellín Tourism Bureau work on a daily basis.