Bogota’s Waste Pickers and World Cities Day

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October 31, 2014 marked the first World Cities Day celebration. World Cities Day was established by a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2013. According to UN-HABITAT:

“World Cities Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and challenges in urbanization and contribute to sustainable urban development in cities and towns around the world.”

The theme for the first every World Cities Day was “Leading Urban Transformation”. To mark this day, Guardian Cities in partnership with UN-HABITAT held the World Cities Day Challenge. The Cities Day Challenge asked for representatives or organizations to submit a written description of their city’s best idea in hopes that great ideas could be shared among cities around the world. The only caveat for the idea was that it had to be already or about to be implemented. From these submissions, 36 finalists were selected to present their city’s idea in three-minute presentations which were followed by a question and answer session with a panel of judges and the public via a live blog and Twitter. Based on the questions and public response, a challenge winner was selected.

Federico Parra, WIEGO’s Regional Coordinator for Waste Pickers in Latin America submitted an idea to the Cities Day Challenge for Bogota, Colombia related to efforts made to recognize and remunerate informal waste pickers. The submission, titled, “Let’s recognize, promote and compensate the work of waste pickers” was selected as one of the 36 finalists. On October 31st (the first ever World Cities Day), Federico presented Bogota’s great idea – the recognition, promotion and remuneration of waste pickers via a video presentation and highlighted reasons why other cities should adopt Bogota’s idea:

“Because recognizing waste pickers as an integral part of the solution to urban waste management, promoting their organizations, and remunerating their work, are crucial ways to make a more humane, more sustainable and more inclusive city.”

Thanks to support for the project via social media and votes from the panel of judges, Federico’s submission for Bogota was awarded third place in the Cities Day Challenge. First place was awarded to Porto Alegre’s Gabriel Medeiros Gomes for Which Bus Stops Here – a project to create blank bus stickers on which city residents can write down bus route info while second place was awarded to Izmir’s Can Sucuoglu for the floating docks project.

Federico’s video presentation for the Cities Day Challenge which discussed Bogota’s waste pickers can be found here.

Federico’s submission and the judges’ questions for the Cities Day Challenge can be read here.

Full coverage of the Cities Day Challenge via the Guardian Cities live blog can be found here.