Circular Cities in Latin America: study highlights new sustainable urban development projects

Circular Cities in Latin America: study highlights new sustainable urban development projects

Given the need to promote good socio-environmental practices, the Center for Innovation in Cities of the Faculty of Architecture of the Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) of Chile and Enel joined forces to design a reference framework in this area for cities in Latin America and Caribbean.

The proposal suggests 16 steps for local governments to move from linear models to circularity, improving the quality of life of its inhabitants and facing the current climate challenge. How to start? The key is to focus on developing a vision, characterizing the city’s circular economy and establishing governance.

Since last year, Enel Distribución has been implementing the first project to manufacture concrete poles with recycled aggregates. The initiative contemplates the production of 500 poles in different points of its concession area, with the same capacity and durability as the traditional ones, and it is estimated that it will avoid the final disposal of 5 thousand tons of concrete per year, reducing the consumption of materials virgins from quarries and rivers.

Along these lines, there are already many projects in different cities and capitals of the region that contribute to the implementation of circular initiatives, favoring a more sustainable production and consumption model. The signing of the Declaration of Circular Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021 precisely reflected this phenomenon, bringing together different actors from urban centers that recognize the urgency of the environmental crisis and commit to a set of measures to move towards a transition urban with a view to sustainability.

How to move faster towards this new sustainable paradigm? Enel and the Center for Cities Innovation of the Faculty of Architecture of the Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) came together to propose a reference framework for the signatory cities of the Declaration of Circular Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean, oriented so that each one can carry out a diagnosis of its progress and review cases of good practices.

It is a document that proposes 16 concrete steps and different lines of work to advance towards urban circularity divided into three stages: defining an approach, designing a strategy and executing actions. In addition, it highlights success stories implemented in Quillota, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Lima and Mexico City, among other urban centers.

“We are proud to be able to present the results of this new study on circularity. We know that working together is key to achieving a balance between progress and the health of the planet. In the search for solutions and calls to action, we all play a role: companies, to integrate sustainability at a strategic level, authorities, to promote public policies that encourage this new form of development, academia to achieve a shared vision that allow us to get closer to concrete results”,aimFabrizio Barderi, general manager of Enel Chile.

The initial stage to approach urban circularity, according to the study, is a focus phase, which translates into the formulation of initial agreements to ensure an inclusive process, the construction of teams and governance, the survey of existing initiatives, the contracting of possible studies that allow analyzing the context and the elaboration of a shared vision identifying objectives and goals in the medium and long term.

“We know that cities are the physical systems that we have developed as a society to inhabit the planet. But we have spent centuries, since the Industrial Revolution, generating a large number of innovations, with results that have had a direct impact on nature. Circularity is a characteristic of all natural systems. We have the task of moving forward creating technologies in line with that original principle, which allow us to redefine our way of working”,comment Francisca Astaburuaga, director of the Center for Innovation in Cities of the UDD Faculty of Architecture and Art.

The document and the 16 steps proposed to advance in terms of sustainable urban development are now available for consultation and download at Its objective is to promote a circular economy scheme, based on renewable materials and energy inputs, extending the life of goods, sharing and closing cycles, always with a view to creating a shared vision of the city that places quality of life at the center. people’s lives and caring for the planet for sustainable development.