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FEATURE: Planning ahead is a complex science

by Steven Price, Country Program Manager for CDKN Colombia

With its newly minted guidelines for adaptation planning, Cartagena is eager to begin developing its municipal adaptation plan. CDKN is providing support as part of the second phase of the project “Integrating adaptation to climate change into local planning and sectoral management in Cartagena”. However, this plan is just one of five interrelated plans addressing land use, climate change and disaster risk management being developed for Cartagena. This makes things a little complicated.

CDKN attended a meeting at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) to discuss a roadmap to prioritize and coordinate these plans.

The principle participants included representatives of the Secretariat of District Planning of the Mayor’s Office of Cartagena, the National Department of Planning, the Directorate of Land Use Planning and the Directorate of the Seas (both of MADS), the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, and the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research (INVEMAR). Together they took a first step towards forging a practical schedule to develop the:

  • Watershed Land Use and Management Plan (POMCA);
  • Management Plan for (Coastal) Environmental Units;
  • Municipal Land Use Plan (POT);
  • Municipal Plan for Risk Management; and
  • Municipal Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

The first two plans are the responsibility of the regional autonomous corporation (CARDIQUE), while the last three are principally in the hands of the City of Cartagena. Given that some of the plans feed into or provide information that is a prerequisite for others, there is an ideal sequence for developing them. In this sense, some consider the POMCA to be the cornerstone, and thus the first priority. However, institutional priorities and legal mandates dictate otherwise, making this a difficult if not impossible proposition.

If coordinating the inputs of the different institutions into these plans was already a major challenge, accommodating legally imposed deadlines creates an extra dimension of complexity. For example, a law passed earlier this year requires that the Municipal Plan for Risk Management be presented within only 90 days. The deadline for this plan was September 7th of this year. Therefore, the plan that would ideally have been third in the sequence was required by law to be the first.

The meeting provided a glimpse of the complexities facing climate-change and risk-management planners in local and national governments, and highlighted the need to continuously stimulate the kind of inter-institutional coordination and communication that CDKN supports around the globe. It also drew attention to CDKN’s role as a partner in the process of coordinating policy in Colombia, and to the importance of CDKN’s efforts in Cartagena as a pilot experience and touchstone for adaptation planning in the eyes of key government authorities.

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