Sep 20, 2016
Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of age, gender and social, economic, or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, using public transit, and new use of cars.
Gil is the founder and chair of the board of the internationally recognized non-profit organization 8 80 Cities, based in Canada. The organization was created centred on a simple but powerful philosophy; if you create a great city for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for all people. Gil also runs his own international consulting firm - Gil Penalosa & Associates and is an accomplished keynote speaker, facilitator of strategic workshops and delivers interactive presentations. Because of Gil’s unique blend of pragmatism and passion, his leadership and advice is sought out by many cities and organizations; he has worked in over 200 different cities across six continents.
Gil has been a strong supporter and advocate for improving city parks, first making his mark in the late 1990s, when he led the transformation of Bogota’s park system as Commissioner. During his tenure Gil successfully led the design and development of over 200 parks including Simon Bolivar, a 113 hectare park in the heart of the city. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”/ Open Streets - a program that sees over 1.3 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.
Gil is chair of the board of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for the city parks, open space and recreation sector. Gil also serves as senior advisor to Children & Nature Network, Kaboom and America Walks.
Gil holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. In 2013 he received the Queen Elizabeth II - Diamond Jubilee Medal, given by the Governor General of Canada, and later was named one of the “Top 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians”. Last year Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the prominent Swedish University SLU.
Recently Gil has also contributed chapters to three books: Enabling Cycling Cities: Ingredients for Success – CIVITAS, Europe; Facilities for Cyclists – Copenhagen, Denmark; Resilient Sustainable Cities, Melbourne, Australia.