Jaime Pumarejo

Colombia |  Non-Resident Senior Fellow,

Former Mayor of Barranquilla


Jaime Pumarejo Heins, recipient of the 2023 Inter-American Dialogue Leadership for the Americas Award is a distinguished leader celebrated for his transformative impact on Barranquilla, Colombia. Pumarejo served as minister of Housing, Territories, and Urban Development for Colombia during the Juan Manuel Santos administration. Mayor of Barranquilla from 2020 to 2023, he earned national recognition for steering the city through the COVID crisis and establishing it as a model for sustainable and inclusive urban development. This led him to be chosen as one of the OECD´s Champions Mayor’s for Inclusive Growth, while also receiving WRI´s Ross Center Prize for Cities and the OAS Award on Innovation in Effective Public Management. Part of his legacy is to turn Barranquilla into the first city in the region with 100% bilingual public education in partnership with the British Council, a model now being replicated across Colombia.

Some of Pumarejo’s achievements include reclaiming a degraded and forgotten mangrove forest, re-greening the city, implementing solar and wind powered infrastructure and fostering international collaborations for ambitious projects. He was honored as the Best Mayor in Colombia for the 2020-2023 period by the NGO Colombia Líder. As a co-founder of the BiodiverCities network of Latin America and the Caribbean, Pumarejo has demonstrated his commitment to regional environmental conservation and sustainable urban planning, earning him the 2024 Award for Urban Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research.

His commitment to democracy was honored by the Colombian government, awarding him the Simon Bolivar Order of Democracy’s Great Cross. He serves on the Advisory Board of United Nation Environmental Programme’s Decade on Restoration, the World Economic Forum’s Global Commission on Nature Positive Cities, and the Global Commission on Urban SDG finance of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

He has an international executive MBA from IE Business School in Madrid, and a bachelor’s of science in management & management of information systems from Purdue University.