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Carlos Cadena-Gaitán Ph.D.

Professor, researcher, art+ivist

"An astonishing inspiration for leaders around the world on how to mobilize people, create change in your local community and see the international effects".

—Sustainia/DNV-GL 2015 Future Sustainability Leader Award


Carlos Cadena-Gaitán Ph.D.

A multi-award winning sustainability expert, former Transport Commissioner of Medellín, Colombia; full-member of the State of Antioquia Scientific Committee for the Climate Crisis; former consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank and UN-Habitat; PhD alumnus of UNU-MERIT and program alumnus of Reinhardt College, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, and the Harvard Kennedy School; regular media contributor in national press and TV on urban sustainability, transport and innovation.


Carlos is an assistant professor (EAFIT University - Colombia), multiple NGO founder and proven fundraiser with partners at Oxford University among others; passionate about cycling, the arts and achieving real-world impact through world-class research.


Captura de pantalla 2019-03-05 a las 8.4


Dr. Cadena-Gaitán's research interests include the Medellín urban transformation, urban transport, resilience, education for sustainable development, measurement of SDG's, and the role of governance in interaction with these areas. 

He has participated within the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)-supported global programme "PEAK Urban", and co-led a Urban Studies Foundation (USF) International Seminar Series.

Recent publications:


Cadena-Gaitán, C, Álvarez-Vanegas, A, Flórez-Muñoz, M (2021). Rapid Deployment of Transport Infrastructure and Urban Social Injustice: The Case of Medellín, Colombia. En: Global Reflections on COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities. Volume 4: Policy and Planning Edited by Pierre Filion, Brian Doucet and Rianne van Melik. Bristol University Press. ISBN: 978-1529219043.


Cadena-Gaitán, C  & Ospina-Sierra, E (2019). Perspectivas de la movilidad urbana en Colombia, 2018-2050. En: Gehring & Pérez (Eds.) Colombia en su ruta, recorriendo el camino hacia 2050, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung 2019. pp. 181-202.


Echeverri, A & Cadena-Gaitán, C (2019). Strategies for Sustainable Communities: Landscape-Based Landslide Risk Alleviation in Medellín, Technology|Architecture + Design, 3:1, 42-44, DOI: 10.1080/24751448.2019.1571798 2


Mejía-Dugand, S., Cadena-Gaitán, C., Hjelm, O. (2019). Segregated lanes in a segregated society - A case study of Medellín, Colombia. In: Ferbrache, F. (ed.). Developing Bus Rapid Transit - The value of BRT in urban spaces. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 234-248.

Awards and performances

Public speaking

Carlos is a frequent guest and contributor to public debates around the case of Medellín, transport, air quality, grassroots movements, artivism and urban challenges in the context of the climate crisis.

Science Communication

Carlos believes in leveraging research to generate local transformation. His work has been featured locally and internationally. He also contributes frequently with academic op-eds aimed at a non-expert public.

Dr. Cadena-Gaitán participates regularly as one of the lecturers for the Science Reporting Workshops (Reach & Turn ‘R&T”) offered globally by UNU-MERIT.