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The Bogota – sabana region : the political economy behind the struggle to implement a sustainable urban development model




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Universidad del Rosario


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Bogota has become internationally renowned for its advancements in urban management, transport and institutional innovation, in its attempts to cope with the challenges of informal growth, economic struggle, and permanent inflow of new population. However, the surrounding region is showing signs of the severe environmental, social and economic repercussions of these inflows on neighbor municipalities. Concerns about the way Bogota and the agglomerations in its surrounding region are spontaneously sprawling over the Sabana’s territory, have been on the institutional and academic agenda for several decades; nonetheless, because key decisions to structure the economic development of the nation’s primary region, such as transport, are pending; those issues are now also reaching the political agenda. Colombia’s decentralized system emphasizes municipal autonomy, making it very difficult to integrate efforts to deal with these regional dynamics in an integrated fashion. Yet, the small municipalities suffer the consequences of their comparatively weaker institutions and lack of financial muscle to be able to handle both, the pressures of the market and the social challenges that come with the evolving demographic trends. Recent studies show that disconnected land use decisions, public investments, tax policies and local development strategies of the region’s municipal governments, have negative impacts on the development potential of the Sabana as a whole, and promote unsustainable urbanization patterns. The paper discusses these impacts; the proposals that have been put on the table to structure the development of a regional urban network that balances current urbanization trends; and the tensions that define the political economy of a complex arena where basic agreements about the broader concerns of the Sabana, need to be made.
Palabras clave
Bogotá , Política económica , Modelo de desarrollo urbano , Cundinamarca