Back to all articles
Water as Leverage

Inclusive workshops for co-designing water solutions in Colombia

Like many coastal cities, Colombia’s city of Cartagena faces major challenges concerning climate adaptation. For instance, more than a quarter of the city could be affected by flooding by 2040.

As part of the collaboration ‘Water as Leverage Cartagena – Construyendo con el Agua’, two international multidisciplinary teams have started co-designing solutions for water and climate related challenges. Workshops with various stakeholders provided new insights on how to tackle these challenges and improve the city’s water system.

Water as Leverage Cartagena draws on the knowledge of two consortia comprising of a diverse group of experts from the Netherlands, Colombia and other international partners to develop projects that address the city’s water and climate adaptation challenges. In order to increase water security in Cartagena the main goal for these two multidisciplinary teams is to generate innovative and inclusive conceptual designs, as well as to develop project proposals to a pre-feasibility level and transform them into ready-to-tender projects.

Co-creating innovative conceptual designs

Local Design Workshops

On 6 and 7 July 2023, representatives from various sectors, such as academia, private enterprises, NGOs, governments and residents from Cartagena came together to participate in the second Local Design Workshop. Together, they proposed ideas for potential projects to foster sustainable urban planning for climate resilience and integrated water management.

Participants sharing their perspectives during the second Local Design Workshop

Opportunities and challenges

In order to jointly design suitable solutions, the teams highlighted the opportunities and challenges of Cartagena’s water management. One of the opportunities, they noted, is the city’s own ecosystem which includes characteristics similar to other cities such as Venice, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro. The city is surrounded by water, comprising of lakes, wetlands, canals and coastline. Since all of it is interconnected, it makes for a unique aquatic landscape.

The Cartagena ecosystem includes characteristics of cities such as Venice, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro

Given that the impact of climate change is projected to increase the drought and flood vulnerability of the city, the main challenge seems to be to try and coexist with water. In order to do this, it is necessary to reconsider how water functions as the center of urban planning and the engine of economic and social transformation.

Water as Leverage Cartagena

Co-creating water solutions

The central question during the workshops was ‘How can we rethink water as an opportunity, rather than a risk’. The two teams presented a range of innovative designs that included Nature Based Solutions and addressed the city’s challenges related to water and climate management. These designs not only considered flood reduction, but also social, economic and biodiversity issues. The participants shared their perspectives, as well as ideas about the problems in their areas. In the upcoming months, the multidisciplinary teams will continue their work on the conceptual designs and integrate the participants’ feedback. A third workshop is planned in September to present and discuss the revised designs based on the participants suggestions.

Group photo of the two teams and participants of the workshops

Water as Leverage Cartagena

Read more about the start of the Water as Leverage Cartagena project and the two multidisciplinary teams.

More information about Water as Leverage

Sign up for the newsletter