Water as leverage Cartagena

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The city of Cartagena, located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, faces major challenges due to water-related issues such as floods and a declining water quality. In Water as Leverage Cartagena, Dutch and Colombian partners are working together towards a sustainable and climate-robust Cartagena. After the first phase 'Setting the Scene' in 2022, the second phase of the Water as Leverage Cartagena programme started at the beginning of 2023, its first local workshop took place last week.

Two consortia were selected for the second phase of this programme, with Witteveen+Bos leading the 'Roots of Cartagena' consortium. Water as Leverage Cartagena provides for the preparation of conceptual designs and concrete project proposals to be developed into preliminary design and tender-ready projects, to improve Cartagena's water system. In this programme aspects concerning design, nature, social, environment, economic and financial aspects are all taken into account, and the close involvement of local actors is a must. Nature-based, innovative and sustainable solutions are part of the design process.

Roots of Cartagena

The programme stems from the bilateral cooperation between Colombia and the Netherlands on water, climate and resilience. The client is Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), the beneficiary the city of Cartagena. The 'Roots of Cartagena' consortium consists of both Dutch and Colombian partners: Felixx Landscape Architects & Planning, Aqua & Terra, FEM Colombia, University of Cartagena, CSC Strategy & Finance and Witteveen+Bos. The other selected consortium is led by Arcadis.

Paul Ravenstijn, project manager and managing director of the Witteveen+Bos office in Panama: 'What is special about this project is the inclusive, holistic and diverse approach, which we want to achieve by working very integrally with the client, the beneficiary, other local actors and the other consortium. This is going to produce concrete feasible and financially viable plans that can count on the support of local actors. After delivery of the plans, the city of Cartagena can immediately start tendering for the continuation of the project: all aspects have been considered and are part of the process. For us as a multidisciplinary engineering firm, all the pieces of the puzzle naturally fall into place in a complex challenge like this.'

Global programme

Climate change and urbanisation are causing problems for cities worldwide. Among other things, they are facing floods, or rather water shortages, population growth, biodiversity issues, waste problems and growing energy demand. Water is a building block and catalyst for sustainable development and from that perspective, the Dutch government set up the Water as Leverage programme. From this programme, challenges related to climate change and urban water management are tackled worldwide, aimed at leveraging investments in physical infrastructure. For the projects to succeed, the support and cooperation of local partners and actors is essential.