Javier Otero Peña

Javier Otero Peña

Student of the PhD program in Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Javier seeks to get involved in the improvement of the quality of life in cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting the importance of public space for the development of citizen behavior and identity, and proposing a creative instrument based on culture and arts to promote citizen participation.

He studied a “Licenciatura” (5-year-degree) in Interpreting and Translation at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In 2003, parallel to his studies, he founded and directed an NGO called PlazaFest, with the purpose of organizing free concerts in plazas to encourage the use and maintenance of public spaces in the city.

His interest in tapping the potential of PlazaFest to tackle the social, economic and cultural problems of the city led him to study a Diploma in Urban Planning and Management, and in 2010 he moved to Paris to study a Master in Environmental Policies and Sustainable Development at the Paris Catholic University. His Master’s dissertation was a study on the relationship between Public Spaces and Quality of Life in Caracas.

During his studies, he was hired as a consultant by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to support the Technology Transfer unit with its projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, and to write the project funding request for the Technology Needs Assessment project. Later, he was appointed to the two-year position as coordinator of activities of the UNEP/GEF en.lighten initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean, a project that promoted the global transition to energy-efficient lighting.

For three years, he taught a class about Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Paris Catholic University. He also did a course on Sustainable Urban Mobility in Developing countries.

In 2014, he took a break and did a bike tour that took him from Paris to Barcelona. He was later re-hired by UNEP to work for a short-term consultancy to support the Climate Finance Readiness Program in Colombia, so he lived in Bogota between November 2014 and February 2015. He led a research project to identify the obstacles and opportunities in the involvement of private sector and territorial entities in climate change mitigation and adaptation project at a national scale.

Research interests: public space, Latin America and the Caribbean, arts, culture, sustainable development, climate change, participatory action, citizen behavior & identity, quality of life, children and youth, reducing inequalities, disadvantaged communities, slums and favelas, sustainable urban mobility.

Tenure: 2016 – Present

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