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An emerging post-Washington consensus approach to local economic development in Latin America? Examining the pioneering example of Medellin, Colombia

Time (GMT +01) 16:00 18:00

Jonathan Glennie - Research Fellow, ODI

Milford Bateman - Research Fellow, ODI
Kate Maclean - Lecturer in Geography and Development, Kings College London

HE Mr Mauricio Rodriguez Munera - Colombian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Alan Gilbert - Professor of Geography , UCL, London


From the early 2000s onwards, at various speeds the countries of Latin America began to detach themselves from what were widely seen as failed ‘Washington Consensus’ free market policies. This movement was soon termed a ‘Pink Tide’, given that it was marked out by broadly leftist governments coming to power right across the continent. Each of these new leftist governments essentially promoted the same thing: to finally get to grips with the worst excesses of nearly three decades of under-performing free market policies and – finally – begin to deal with massive concentrations of poverty, stratospheric levels of inequality, persistently high levels of real unemployment, dangerously growing informality, and declining levels of social capital everywhere. Everyone agrees that there was clearly a lot to be done.

One way to address these significant problems, it was widely agreed, was to build up the institutions associated with the ‘developmental state’. This movement very much included building up the institutions associated with the local/regional state. In this context, perhaps one city more than any other in Latin America has been central to the debate about local state activism - the city of Medellin in Colombia. Over the last fifteen years or so, Medellin has established many pro-active institutions associated with what has been called the ‘local developmental state’ model. Also known as ‘social urbanism’, the city of Medellin has pioneered important new city-driven policies and programmes that, among other things, have helped to promote local economic development through an expanded and upgraded enterprise sector. This ODI event will analyse this emerging local policy framework and explore where it has worked and where it remains a ‘work in progress’. With contributions from an ongoing research project undertaken under the auspices of the ODI and the International Bureau for Social and Economic Research (IBSER), the ODI’s Dr Milford Bateman, Research Fellow, and Dr Kate Maclean, Lecturer in Human Geography at Kings College London, will discuss their latest research findings following a trip to Medellin in February. Two high-profile discussants will then add to the debate with their own views on the subject: first Professor Alan Gilbert, one of the world’s leading authorities on social urbanism and local development in Latin America and Colombia; and, second, H.E. The Colombian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mauricio Rodriguez Munera, a former economic journalist and academic. Chairing the event will be the ODI’s Jonathan Glennie, a noted researcher on economic policies with much direct experience in Colombia.