Cartagena’s Plan 4C : Building a competitive and climate compatible future

Cartagena’s Plan 4C : Building a competitive and climate compatible future

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Date: 5th August 2014
Type: Feature
Tags: adaptation, industry, sea level rise, sustainable tourism

Claudia Martínez Zuleta, CDKN Representative in Colombia, and Mathieu Lacoste, Communications Coordinator, CDKN Colombia, introduce a major development in the outlook for Cartagena, Colombia.

Plan 4C: A Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena was launched on the city’s ramparts in the heart of Cartagena this month. The location represented not only a beautiful and iconic place to make this innovative plan official, but also marked the links between the past, present and future of the city, showing to the world how a World Heritage City can start facing the new challenges posed by climate change.

Cartagena used to face piracy. But today, the threat does not come from galleons and scores of pirates. The new threat is called climate change, a phenomenon that makes this Colombian coastal city pretty vulnerable in the future. The consequences of climate change on the people, on economic sectors and the city’s physical assets are likely disrupt the development pathway.

Projections of climate impacts to the year 2040 show how the coastline of Cartagena will be moving several hundred metres inland, affecting most of the coastal areas where human settlements and the main economic activities are situated (hotels, industries, ports, airport, tourism in the Old Town Centre and islands). This will impact not only the poorest people but also wealthy people, and will jeopardise investment in the long run.

Therefore, Cartagena’s authorities, together with its main economic sectors, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Chamber of Commerce of Cartagena, the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (INVEMAR) and CDKN have engaged to start preparing the “Cartagena of the future.”

As the Mayor of Cartagena, Dioniso Velez Trujillo, stated in his opening speech, the walls were built to protect Cartagena from pirates from different nations, but currently the walls are a symbol of protection for climate change and sea level rise. Mr. Velez’ administration and five others before have played a crucial role in developing Plan 4C to ensure that a local government decision turns out to be a city policy that transcends political leaders and their administrations. In that sense, the planning process and the measures that are stated in Plan 4C aim to position climate compatible development as a strategic pillar of the long term development process of Cartagena.

The current administration has given its strong support to the plan, first including it as a goal of the municipality Development Plan (December, 2013); second, benefiting from the leadership of the Planning Secretary of the City, Ms Dolly González, who has seen it as a way to create a vision and a platform for collective action towards a more resilient and progressive city.

Ms. Gonzalez presented the five core strategies of the plan: (i) a climate compatible port – as the port accounts for 60% of the maritime trade of Colombia; and adaptation measures for the industrial sector as Cartagena’s industries contribute 6% of the GDP of Colombia, (ii) innovation in the tourism sector that helps drive the city’s economy and currently occupies the most vulnerable coastal areas; (iii) re-thinking of the city’s ecological structure including the blue and green areas, channels and marshes as well as the mangroves and parks; (iv) protecting the old city which is a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site; and v) adapting its neighborhoods to climate change, starting with the most vulnerable ones.

The planning process that resulted in the Plan and the definition of specific measures and projects has been conceived to create a broad consensus among all the actors that are going to be involved in its implementation and pave the way to lead it with key sectors of the City. As Ms Gonzalez stated: “We need to undertake this plan together and ensure assure that Cartagena moves forward to a climate compatible future”.

The Plan also includes a specific strategy for the islands of Cartagena, including the protected area of the “Archipelago of San Bernardo and Rosario,” where several cross-cutting guidelines on land use planning, information, education and communication, and financial options have been agreed with the people of the island to adapt to the climate of the future.

A panel of high-level sectoral and political representatives chaired by Claudia Martinez, CDKN Country Engagement Leader for Colombia, took place in the event. All the panelists shared very concrete ideas on how to implement the plan, showing not only the level of awareness of the main investors and economic leaders, their commitment towards the targets and measures of the Plan, but also the interest of converting climate change as an opportunity for growth, development and competitiveness in the future.

The Panel included Rafael del Castillo, President of the Board of the main Business Association of Industries of Colombia (ANDI Chapter Bolivar); Sergio Araujo, influential representative of the Hotel sector; Silvana Giaimo, Executive Directors of the Cartagena Port Society; Alan Duque, Executive Director of Port COMPAS. Sandra Howard, Deputy Minister of Tourism; Pablo Vieira, Deputy Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development and Rodrigo Suárez, Climate change Director for Colombia, also participated in the panel.

The launch of Plan 4C is one of CDKN’s highlights in 2014, showing the tangible impact of CDKN’s work in helping developing countries and strategic cities to develop robust planning processes, design well-prioritised actions built on consensus, and create the conditions for their implementation. Plan 4C is also an example of a multi-stakeholder planning process that started with a diagnosis on vulnerability (Vulnerability Assessment, 2011 - 2012) and resulted in the formulation of this plan (2013-2014). It also provides lessons on how climate compatible development can be situated in land use planning, urban management and sectoral agendas. The planning process favoured stakeholders’ involvement, especially via the creation of the Climate Change Committee of Cartagena that convenes 20 public and private institutions from the national and local levels.

Moreover, Plan 4C reflects the understanding that climate change is more than a sectoral issue since it impacts the territory, but that the responses to the challenge can be driven by the local authorities and its sectors that are already organised and able to implement joint actions. Finally, Plan 4C shows that there is an understanding by the main stakeholders of the importance to mainstream climate change into the strategy, that there is a direct link between climate change and future competitiveness and development, and that strategically planning and preparing the city and sectors will be more cost- effective than waiting to act later. Therefore, Cartagena has engaged on the path of climate compatible development, envisioning a more sustainable and resilient future for across its sectors, and for its people.


Image credit: Alexander Schimmeck

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