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Agent of change: Viviana Cordero

Schoolchildren in Ecuador

In our November issue, we've profiled young planners who are delivering sustainable development goals around the world. Read about the Agents of change and discover more young planners whose work is having an impact in communities worldwide

Viviano Cordero hails from Ecuador and is a lawyer and urban strategist, current PhD candidate in spatial science at the University of Groningen, and co-founder and partner at Huasipichanga

Sustainable development not only matters but is our only option as a human race. As climate change consequences become more tangible, we can only conceive the future as possible if we start adopting drastic measures towards sustainability. Whatever can’t be sustainable simply cannot have a future.

Planners and policymakers should take action, with great urgent, to transition our cities and countries to planning that takes into account a balanced relationship with the environment and among ourselves. Sustainable development will help us thrive as a society economically, socially and environmentally. 

”Whatever can’t be sustainable simply cannot have a future”

Professional planners can take decisions about the space in which human activities are performed, having the possibility to facilitate and incentivise sustainable actions – for instance, by creating more walkable, bikeable cities. Additionally, planners are decision-makers in public policy which can encourage sustainable transitions in aspects such as mobility, energy, housing and labour markets. 

My own focus is on the development of inclusive and child-friendly cities, sharing and developing tools to include kids in decision-making processes and highlighting the role of education in urban planning. By 2050, 70 per cent of children will be living in cities; hence we need to ensure that cities are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The first five causes of death in children are related to the environment. Children are 37 per cent more exposed to air pollution and they are the population at highest risk in traffic accidents. Planners can and must take action to change this. Children need green spaces, independent mobility and play opportunities in the public space so they can grow up healthy and strong. Children’s cognitive and physical development highly depends on the build environment.

Project focus

1. The Real Play City Challenge: Together with PlacemakingX and the Real Play Coalition, Huasipichanga has launched an international open call for placemakers and cities that have worked on child-friendly, safe and playful initiatives. 

Our aim is to celebrate, encourage and scale up initiatives that bring play in the cities and provide children the opportunity to grow up in safer and healthier environments. We want to inspire more cities and urban planners to work towards city-wide strategies and bottom up initiatives for play. 

2. “Tu tambien Construyes Cuenca”: This is a local project in Ecuador that aims at changing the mobility patterns and public spaces around schools. Usually, children get to school by car or school bus. This is affecting their health as idling vehicles pollute twice as much as moving cars, hence those waiting outside the school are creating an unhealthy environment. Additionally, children don’t know the neighbourhood around their schools. We have started a co-creation process with children to develop safe routes, green and play spaces around the school and hop-on, hop-off stations that would allow them to have a safer environment around the place where they spend most of the day.