“The Inclusive Growth Initiative will be fundamental for the future of our society, even more so considering the serious crises our planet is facing today. I think the well-being and happiness of people will only be achieved by growing with everyone, including everyone without distinction, and creating collaborative communities. Governments have to provide timely and efficient responses to people’s needs; in particular, local governments, which are the closest to them”.
– Mayor Luis Alberto Mella Gajardo
Doctor Luis Alberto Mella Gajardo has been the Mayor of Quillota, Chile, since 1992, having won seven consecutive elections. From his youth he was a promoter and member of several social and volunteer initiatives, as well as a conscientious doctor. After being elected Mayor, he started various projects such as the solidarity bank BanAmor, the Beatita Benavides treatment centre for cancer patients, programs for the elderly, and other initiatives related to physical and mental health. Together with the Instituto del Bienestar (Well-being Institute) of Chile, he has been a pioneer in promoting, nationally and internationally, the idea of the pursuit of happiness and well-being via public policies. He created the Meetings of Cities for Happiness, which, after four events in Quillota, have now started to take place in Brazil and Colombia. He has been elected the first president of the nascent Latin American Network of Municipalities for Happiness, and has received recognition for his work, including four of the five awards for the best politician in the Valparaíso Region, given by the “Piensa” Foundation.
In order to mitigate the effects of climate change, the Municipality of Quillota launched the ‘Quillota Respira’ (Quillota Breathes) initiative, with the support of universities and national companies. The objective of the project is to plant a native tree for each of the 100,000 inhabitants of the city, within a period of four years. It also includes environmental education, irrigation and training plans for residents. ‘Quillota Respira’ is a result of the commitment made by Mayor Luis Mella in the meeting of Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth held in Seoul in 2017. By 2020, 10,000 trees had been planted and environmental education programs had begun.
Created in 2012, the Opportunities for Life program aims to reintegrate into society, those that have spent time in prison. Through a multidisciplinary team, the Municipality, the Gendarmería (Prison System) and the BanAmor Municipal Foundation work with well-behaved inmates and their families for one year before their release, preparing them socially and psychologically, and training them for work. As a result, upon their release, the person has a family network, a guaranteed job and the support of various social programs. Since commencing this program, 9 out of 10 inmates did not re-offend and were successfully reintegrated into society. This project was recognised in 2019 by the UNESCO Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights, CIPDH.
Therapeutic Community ‘Ayutün’, founded by the Municipality of Quillota, is a pioneering project in Chile, where drug addiction rehabilitation is an issue managed by the Ministry of Health or private institutions. The rehabilitation centre, located in a rural area of the city, provides voluntary treatment for 21 days or hospitalisation, for people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Medical support is provided by the Mayor and a professional team that includes psychologists, social workers, nurses and occupational therapists. In addition, patients can access other benefits, such as ophthalmology and dental care. ‘Ayutün’ means ‘Return to Love’, in the language of the ancient Mapuche people.