In Costa Rica, Curridabat, “the city that was thought through the eyes of a bee”

Former journalist, mayor of Curridabat between 2007 and 2018, Edgar Mora is the driving force of a project launched in 2015 which places bees at the heart of urban planning. Five years later, ecological and social successes are there.

Why is your city nicknamed “Ciudad Dulce” (“sweet city” or “sweet”)?

In reference to the bees which forage for the nectar of plants. In Curridabat, bees, but also hummingbirds, butterflies and bats, are city dwellers like any other. “Ciudad Dulce” is the name of this urban project which focuses on the respect and well-being of pollinators. Five years later, the double meaning of the term “dulce” – sweet or sweet in Spanish – fits like a glove in Curridabat, whose urban planning was imagined in the eyes of a bee.

Event: The “Wellbeing Cities Forum 2020”: three days, from September 15 to 17, to think about the city according to

How does a bee see your city?

It can cross it or stop there to feed. Green corridors have been set up so that bees no longer know borders, moving from one green space to another in a benevolent environment for them. The city has 180 parks. Half has been created in recent years on municipal land that was fallow. The others have been renovated. We have removed the eucalyptus there for the benefit of species originating in the region attractive to pollinators.

Straight streets and buildings not too high also free the aerial routes of birds. Bringing parks to the doors of houses has created a social dynamic that encourages residents to create private gardens at home. Seeds were distributed to them by the town hall. Thus, the urban space no longer stops the landscape, reducing the obstacles to the pollination of plants.

Where did you get this idea from?

Of the colonization of Latin America. At the time of the Christianization of the subcontinent by the Spaniards, nature was excluded from the new colonial cities to break with the culture of the indigenous peoples, which places respect for the land at the heart of their society. The objective of our project is to break, in our turn, with the traditional urban development model, based on the antagonism between the city and the countryside.

It is a holistic approach to urban management …

Yes. For the sake of a balanced relationship with nature that includes all members of the community, human and non-human. Our project takes into account, at the same time, biodiversity, infrastructure, habitat, living together and the productivity of the city. Placing pollinators at the center of urban planning reminds us that we are all stakeholders in local ecosystems. We are even dependent on it.

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