On Monday, October 9th, the city of Guadalajara, Mexico officially announced a new initiative as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Partnership for Healthy Cities. It was quite clear to visitors why a city so full of beautiful landscapes and stunning plazas had selected an initiative to make Guadalajara a more walkable, bikeable city.
The city hopes that by getting people used to driving less, the citizenry will become more physically active and breathe cleaner air too.
The idea behind The Partnership for Healthy Cities, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and implementing partner Vital Strategies, is to engage city leaders around the world to commit to policies that have been proven to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries.
The launch took place at Guadalajara’s Palacio Municipal, the seat of local government. José Luis Castro, the president of Vital strategies, along with Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President for Public Health programs and other members of our team, were greeted by Monica Sanchez, the City’s Director of International Relations.
There was a brief tour of the historic building before the Vital Strategies group met Chief of Staff Hugo Luna and Guadalajara Director of Health Systems Fernando Peterson. Mayor Enrique Alfaro had been called away at the last minute and was unable to attend.
Mr. Luna and Mr. Peterson affirmed their commitment to making Guadalajara a city that helps its people to be healthier and happier. Outside the building, the sounds of jackhammers and heavy equipment testified to the City’s commitment to automobile alternatives: The subway is currently being extended.
The press conference took place in the building’s Salon of Ex-Presidents, where paintings of all of the city’s former mayors adorned the walls. In his remarks, Jose Luis Castro said that Guadalajara “is a city that knows about working hard to achieve significant public health goals.”
He said, “Guadalajara’s participation puts Mayor Alfaro in the company of a global coalition of forward-thinking mayors.”
The details of the city’s Partnership initiative were presented next, with great excitement about the push to encourage cycling and walking in the city, not just for recreation but in daily activities such as shopping and commuting. The city’s Partnership initiative includes outreach to city residents about using existing facilities in the extensive downtown Via RecreActiva as well as plans for new bike lanes and parking.
Guadalajara will be demonstrating, along with the Partnership’s more than 50 other cities around the world, that local action is the key to securing the health and wellbeing of the world’s urban centers.
Vital Strategies will be there to support Guadalajara’s initiative by providing technical assistance; we will report back later from the city on how the plan unfolds.