Gil (Guillermo) Penalosa
Founder & Chair, 8 80 Cities
Immediate past Chair now first Ambassador,
World Urban Parks
President, Gil Penalosa & Associates
MBA, PhDhc, CSP
Parks: Creating Vibrant & Healthy Cities for All
Half of the homes that we’ll have in cities within the lifetime of today’s children have not been built yet. We must improve the cities that we have today and create great cities for billions more. What is the role of parks? Parks people must prioritize our most vulnerable citizens: children, older adults and the poor. We must be at the table of city planning, climate change, public health, education, economic development, mobility, and equity
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, or social status. 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 the 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 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 hundreds of parks including Simon Bolivar, a 113 hectare park in the heart of the city. Gil's team also led the "new Ciclovia"/ Open Streets - a program that sees over 1.5 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers / 76 miles of Bogotá's city streets every Sunday, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.
Until August 2018, for the first three years of its existence Gil was chair of the board of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for the city parks, open space, and recreation sector. He has now become its first Ambassador.
Gil also works advising decision makers and organizations like Children & Nature Network, StreetFilms, America Walks, Kaboom, and others.
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. 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.