Photo: AVINAPhoto: AVINAPhoto: AVINA


According to UN data, between 2007 and 2050 the urban population of our planet will swell by an additional 3.1 billion. This growth will result in an increased burden on existing infrastructure, government services, natural resources, emissions and many other critical aspects of quality of life in urban areas. Latin America is a leader in this global phenomenon. It is the world’s most urbanized developing region.

Seventy-five percent of the population in Latin America lives in urban areas, which in absolute terms translates into 375 million of the region’s 500 million residents; 120 million of these live below the poverty line. Many of the challenges facing Latin America today are likely to be repeated on an even larger scale in Africa and Asia in coming years. If Latin America is successful in meeting this challenge, its solutions may well be highly replicable.

Avina identifies opportunity

To demonstrate that the mobilization and coordination among different sectors of society can transform the management of Latin American cities.

To encourage a public administration that is guided by indicators and specific goals to improve the quality of life for all citizens.


Avina and its allies’ strategy for action

Avina has supported the growing sustainable cities movement in Latin America since 2007. The movement is currently made up of 50 cities in ten Latin American countries. The Latin American Network for Just, Democratic and Sustainable Cities (“La Red Latinoamericana por Ciudades Justas, Democráticas y Sustentables”), is a collaboration of allies in the region where today there are more than 50 cities implementing exercises on mobilization, advocacy and citizen monitoring of public administration towards better quality of urban life. At present, there are similar initiatives implemented by allies of Avina in various cities in 10 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay).

Members of the sustainable cities movement seek not only to stimulate citizen participation in municipal decision-making but also to prioritize actions that will alleviate urban poverty across the region. Supporting the sustainable cities network represents a unique opportunity both to contribute to change on a continental level and to

strengthen local processes and initiatives.

Critical action areas linked to this continental strategy include:

 Increase political, social and economic inclusion through new models of public participation and the integration of new voices.

 Strengthen public oversight and social accountability through the implementation of common indicators to monitor progress and facilitate learning and information exchange among cities and countries.

 Promote innovative urban practices by supporting effective pilot projects.

 Invest in training for urban leaders in order to promote citizen awareness and knowledge of urban issues.


Avina Americas established a strategic partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help strengthen the sustainable cities movement throughout Latin America. The strategy focuses on increasing citizen participation as well as social, political and economic inclusion of groups currently excluded from political decision-making circles in the cities. Fundación Avina supports the movement in Latin America and Avina Americas.

ciudad sustentable


Distill methodology and develop indicators for urban quality of life that can be shared and compared across countries.

Connect with and incorporate best practices from other regions.

Expand to Central America, Venezuela and the Caribbean.

Increase awareness and best practices when managing risks of climate change on cities in Latin America.

Some achievements with our allies


Completion of public opinion and perception surveys in 20 cities, as noted above.

Strategic plan developed in 3 cities in Argentina: Mendoza, Córdoba and Maipú.

Forest Reserve “Thomas Van der Hammen” announced in Bogotá, Colombia.

Strategic plan developed in 2 cities in Brazil: Campinas and Rio de Janeiro.

Second Meeting of Fair and Sustainable Cities Network in Salvador; from there, a learning space of 50 initiatives.

New national networks: Chile, Argentina, México, Uruguay.

Sao Paulo and Valdivia carried out their second citizen and public accountability event.

Datos Claves

  1. Nearly 75% of citizens have little or no trust in political parties, despite charted progress in the UN’s Electoral Democracy Index in the last four years. Half of citizens interviewed in regional surveys indicated that democracy could be pursued without political parties, indicating a persistent weakness in the current democratic model.

  2. According to a recent diagnostic in the Human Development Report, Latin America continues to be the most unequal region on the planet. Due to weak social accords and institutions, inequality plagues the region and threatens democracy in several Latin American countries.

  3. The surveys also demonstrate that challenges such as the prevalence of informality, socio-spatial segregation, social exclusion, poverty, pollution, transportation systems, housing and citizen control, are compounded by the phenomenon of increasing urbanity across the region.

  4. Inequality manifests itself in incomes, civil participation, gender, access to land and political representation.