2013 National Planning Excellence Awards: The Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Award

The Valsequillo Initiative

Puebla, Mexico

The Valsequillo Initiative is a planning effort not only to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the Valsequillo Reservoir and increase opportunities for area residents and remediate decades of environmental degradation, but it also aimed to unify urban and environmental planning for the first time. Four years ago, the 58,000-acre Valsequillo region was set to become a new mega-development, a companion city to Puebla, Mexico's fourth largest urban area. Development proposals would have reduced the value of the area's ecological resources and displaced indigenous communities, small farmers, and communal landholders.

The initiative's goals were to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the reservoir, increase employment opportunities, remediate decades of environmental degradation while avoiding conventional approach of increasing residential and industrial areas through infrastructure expansion and rapid urban development. The planning process halted unplanned and rapid urban development; helped protect Valsequillo's communities and environmental assets; and demonstrated a model of inter-agency collaboration; and giving local residents for the first time, a means to express their concerns and impact their own futures. As a result, numerous volunteers, communities, and groups have worked to restore the environment and create educational projects throughout the region.

Solid waste and water pollution, two of Valsequillo's most pressing environmental issues.