Quality of Life Competition

by Matt Ball on December 30, 2007

Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, is widely lauded as the architect of livability and sustainability in that city. A feature in the International Herald Tribune outlines some of his accomplishments, and his vision for future large cities.

His urban planning efforts included the addition of large parks, great lengths of bikeways and a bus rapid transit system. These and other changes dramatically increased the quality of life in Bogota, and the ex-mayor is now an adviser to other cities wishing to make a dramatic improvement on their livability.

“Future competition between societies will be for quality of life,” states Peñalosa. “Talented people will go to cities that are socially inclusive, pleasant and move.”

I love this line of thinking, and the drive for quality of life regardless of social class that fuels Peñalosa’s passion. The idea of a global competition for quality of life is a compelling thought, where society as a whole benefits from competitive innovation.

Peñalosa likely didn’t make changes in his city to win awards, yet he won the Stockholm Challenge prize and a $1 million award from the Gates Foundation. Why not more world prizes for livability, particularly in areas where the division between social classes is severe?

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