United Nations studying the impact of expats on Cuenca and how the city is responding

Feb 17, 2017 | 11 comments

How is the influx of North American and European residents changing Cuenca? And, what are the steps the city is taking to create a healthy coexistence between the foreigners and local residents? These are questions that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is asking in a study it is conducting with Cuenca’s Office of Foreign Affairs.

Cuenca expats at a local bar.

“The arrival of thousands of foreigners, most of them English-speaking, in a relatively short period of time, is a unique phenomenon in Latin America,” says Sergio Navas of UNDP’s Latin America and Caribbean division. “We are studying the interaction between the native residents of Cuenca with the foreigners as well as the efforts of the municipal government to accommodate it. We want to know, what are the positive effects of the migration but also, what are the negative effects?”

One goal of the study, says Navas, is the compilation of reliable statistics about the number of foreigners living in Cuenca on a full- and part-time basis. “This will provide a basis on which to develop public policy and programs to accommodate the foreign residents,” he says.

According to a recent study by the University of Cuenca, the number of North Americans and Europeans in living in Cuenca is between 5,000 and 8,000. It reported that since 2015, more Europeans and young families are relocating to the city, whereas the majority of foreign newcomers between 2008 and 2014 were North American retirees.

Results of the UNDP study will be available soon, Navas said.

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