Accessibility links

FEATURE: Geraldine paints her vision of Cartagena in 2040 – in a changing climate

Claudia Martinez, CDKN’s Country Engagement Leader for Colombia, speaks with 15-year-old Cartagena resident Geraldine Padilla about her vision of the city in 25 years’ time.

Geraldine Padilla arrived early this morning. She had been thinking of the colours and materials to draw her vision of Cartagena in 2040, when she will be 40 years old. Her teacher from the public school Bertha Gedeon de Baladi in Cartagena had told her in November 2014 that the first contest on painting and climate change was going to take place in February 2015.  She and her classmates attended the first conference on climate change designed for children, at the end of November 2014, where they heard Dolly Gonzales, the Director of Planning of Cartagena presenting the Plan 4C: Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena. She remembers other speakers like Juan Pablo Aljure, a headmaster of the Rochester school from Bogota who is leading education activities on climate change, and other interesting speakers.

For her, imagining Cartagena in 2040 affected by climate change means seeing much more water. She understands that in 2040, sea level rise in the city would mean that her neighbourhood near the Cienaga de la Virgen would be flooded.  By then, she has also felt temperatures that are much warmer than she previously remembered, as the months go by. She used to play under the sun at midday in her school and lately she has been staying in the shae.  If the temperature rises more, she can imagine that the school children in 2040 will have to stay indoors. Her sister recently suffered chinkunkuya, a disease like the dengue that is transmitted by a mosquito that arrived recently in Cartagena. TV news reports say that water attracts mosquitos and so she imagines that with more water and an increase of temperature in 2040, there will be many mosquitos transmitting chincuncuya.

This morning in 2015, she woke up and saw the great sun of the Caribbean, and had no worries, though – just the prospect of a wonderful time painting.  She was going to paint Cartagena flooded with water and mosquitoes flying around, but she changed her mind. She knows that she and her classmates can make a difference.

She arrived at her school where her teacher and classmates where waiting for her to go to the Centenario Park to meet with other students from 11 different public schools of Cartagena.  They were all wearing nice t-shirts and hats with the logo of the Plan 4C, with the walls of the old city of Cartagena that used to protect them from the pirates, but now the same walls have to be protected from sea level rise. She thinks that it is easier to deal with sea level rise than with lots of pirates with hats and beards.

Dolly Gonzales, the Planning Director of Cartagena gave them a speech, inspiring them to paint their vision of Cartagena in 2040. There were nice colours and a big canvas standing on paint easels, arranged around the plaza for each one of the 50 children that were pre-selected for the contest, waiting to be filled with imaginative drawings.

Finally, they said it was time to start painting. Her paint easel was standing under the shadow of a tree, and she immediately thought there should be many more trees around Cartagena for children to paint in the shade….how refreshing. She thinks that one of the things she can easily help with is by recycling and teaching others to manage the garbage. She remembers that the channels around her neighborhood are full of garbage, and when it rains, water and garbage flow in every street around her house. Her science teacher once explained her that landfills emit CO2 and that we need to start recycling to have less waste and be more efficient in using resources.

She knows that she and her classmates will join efforts with different children around the world to lower the emissions that are making climate change to happen. She no longer pictures the pirates around the walls of the old city of Cartagena, but rather, a nice and clean beach with palm trees standing nicely to protect the dunes.  The road that was once standing in between the beach and the old walls will disappear, because she will be the director of planning of Cartagena in 2035, continuing what Dolly is promoting today, and will ensure more beaches and less flooded roads. By then, all the children will be wiser, knowing that they cannot fight against nature but rather, will adapt and understand why nature is claiming the land.

Her drawing was not selected for the first nine prizes, because there were many other wonderful ideas and drawings around. Deep in her heart, she wanted to win the bicycle or the roller blades or the skate board, because she wants to start going to school in a bike and show that she is one of the children in the world helping lowering CO2 emissions. She congratulates the winners and goes happily back to her house with her friends, who have similar positive visions of Cartagena in 2040 in a changing climate.

For further information of Plan 4C: Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena funded by CDKN, please visit

la foto (6) cropped


Image: (right) children’s painting competition; (above) Geraldine’s eco-friendly vision of Cartagena 2040, taken by Claudia Martinez.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.