May 12, 2017     cib    

In the context of an increasingly globalizing and urbanizing world, different cities feel the need to review their policies and focus more on international relations. Mexico City (Mexico) and Medellín (Colombia) are examples of cities focusing on enhancing their international profile – either by including international relations in their overall long-term planning (Mexico City) or by applying for international awards. Please find their cases below. 

Mexico City: adding international relations to long-term action plan

Following an extensive evaluation process on the meaning of international relations for Mexico’s capital, the city has made international relations an integral part of its public policies (as can be read in the article on inclusion of international relations in Mexico City’s constitution, from 2016). Through multi-stakeholder dialogues, to which more than 100 representatives from civil and cultural organizations, opinion leaders, academics, entrepreneurs and government representatives participated, the city concluded that the increasing globalization and urbanization make participation in international networks more and more important.

To participate and advocate in the main international networks on climate change, urban mobility, risk and disaster management and health, Mexico City has strengthened its General Coordination of International Affairs (CGAI) within its municipal organization. CGAI, among others, leads the AL-LAs alliance, which brings together Latin American and European cities that aim to professionalize their international relations and influence the big global agendas. Furthermore, CGAI attends international delegations and manages cooperation projects with allied cities.

The main challenge for Mexico city is now to prove to its citizens that this internationalization brings real benefits to them as well. For that reason, the city government plans to establish an inclusive coordinating body and to develop a legitimate, coherent long-term vision, making sure that public and private actors, civil society organizations and citizens feel represented in the international work as well.

International recognition for urban and social transformation of Medellín

The city of Medellín has managed to get international attention in a different way: it presented its social and urban transformation at the Place Marketing Forum, which was held in Lyon (France) in March. This annual international conference aims to present, share and reward best practices in the field of place marketing. Medellín received the award in the category of "Social Innovation and Territorial Resilience."

In the last 30 years, Medellín has gone through a remarkable renovation thanks to its promotion of cooperation and positioning of good governmental practices. Innovative urban and social transformation policies such as the establishment of committees,  diagnostic practices, identification of priorities and effective co-construction with its residents, have generated good results.  The award received by the city constitutes as a strategic instrument that contributes to the positioning of Medellín and the region in the international context by promoting and disseminating the lessons learned in different themes. "This recognition is the result of the constant and transformative process that Medellín has experienced, and it highlights the ability of a city and its people to respond to the challenges imposed by our reality. One of the aspects highlighted by the organizers of the event is resilience as a transforming and effective force to regain confidence and alter our environment," said Carlos Álvarez, Deputy Director of Local and International Relations of ACI Medellín.

For more information about the case of Medellín, please contact Alejanra Gutierrez Zapata  (

For more information about the case of Mexico City, please contact Braulio Díaz (