Plan 4C: A Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena

Submitted by CDKN Communications Team | published 6th May 2016 | last updated 7th Aug 2017
This video illustrates how the people of Cartagena envision and plan for the future in a changing climate.
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This report*, Plan 4C: A Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena, outlines the strategies in place for the World Heritage City of Cartagena, Colombia, to become an icon of climate compatible development, where the risk of climate change is converted into an opportunity for development.

The future of Cartagena is uncertain and vulnerable to climate change therefore proactive and preventative action is needed. A 2 degC increase in temperatures will likely be associated with sea levels rising an estimated 60cm by 2040. Further risks of drought, as well as increased rainfall, have motivated action to prevent impacts from unfolding and hampering the future of its citizens.

The vision of Plan 4C is that by 2040, Cartagena de Indias will be recognised as a city that is a model of urban and coastal planning based on climate compatible development: where adaptation and mitigation measures will reduce indices of vulnerability to climate change, improve efficiency of public investment, the quality of life of its inhabitants and the competitiveness of its sectors.

This plan presents a bold and ambitious vision, with strong commitment amongst many in the business sector, community and local government of Cartagena to achieving adaptation and mitigation measures that reduce indices of vulnerability to climate change, improve efficiency of public investment, the quality of life of its inhabitants and the competitiveness of its sectors. A city that relies on its port and tourism for economic growth and stability is, via Plan 4C, holding climate change at the heart of its planning and decision-making while creating opportunities for its citizens, many of whom still fall below the poverty line and are most vulnerable to the risks of a warmer climate.

This report is an output from a project commissioned through the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). The project was implemented by INVEMAR, a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific and technological research, attached to the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Political ownership of the plan resides in the Office of the Mayor of Cartagena de Indias.

Five strategies are outlined in this new report which detail how Cartagena – the first coastal city to have created a long-term vision in which the future climate will be an opportunity for economic development – are achieving climate compatible development:

  1. Climate compatible ports and industries;
  2. Tourism sector committed to climate change;
  3. Protection of historic heritage;
  4. Neighbourhoods adapted to climate change;
  5. Ecosystem-based adaptation.

The report* provides definitive responses with which to deal with the challenge of climate change through these concrete strategies and actions to promote sectoral competitiveness in the long term, reduce poverty in the city and the islands and create opportunities for its citizens.

The adaptation and mitigation measures proposed in Plan 4C offer the city and its islands an interesting range of possibilities and opportunities for the social and economic development of its population. In this regard, the Plan projects a Cartagena in which adaptation and mitigation measures are implemented to reduce vulnerability to climate change, improve public investment efficiency, the quality of life of its inhabitants and the competitiveness of its productive sectors.

*download from right-hand column or via links under further resources

In the report

This report contains the following:

  • Introduction
  • The historic legacy of Cartagena de Indias
  • Cartagena de Indias today
  • The environmental conditions: the foundation of the city
  • The climate today and future scenarios
  • Strategies and measures for climate compatible development
    • Axis of integrated adaptation to the economic development of the city
      • Strategy 1. Climate Compatible Ports and Industries
      • Strategy 2. Tourism sector committed to climate change
      • Strategy 3. Protection of historic heritage
    • Axis of citizens and adaptation to climate change
      • Strategy 4. Neighborhoods adapted to climate change
    • Axis of Ecological Restoration: Water and
      • Strategy 5. Ecosystem-based adaptation
  • Cross-cutting axes
    • Information and monitoring
    • Education and communication
    • Planning and land use
  • Financing Plan 4C
    • Financial options
  • Implementation of Plan 4C
  • Conclusions

Figure 5, from page 13 of the report:  Axes and strategies identified for future development of a Climate Compatible Cartagena and their interlinkages are described in the report.


The formulation of Plan 4C: A Competitive and Climate Compatible Cartagena, has been a great opportunity for the City, its administration and entities, both public and private, as well as civil society. They have begun to think and act in advance of the challenges of climate change, transforming it into opportunities for development, innovation and competitiveness.

The strategies of Plan 4C have become the road map for the promotion of actions that, taken as a whole, motivate long term policies, in which the different administrations of the city will add results favoring climate compatible development. It has also united efforts between the public and private sectors to boost the city’s productive projects (industry, ports and tourism).

The challenge is to achieve a greener Cartagena, more efficient in the use of its resources, with beaches, mangrove swamps and marshes in symbiosis with the landscape, with industries and ports that become more resilient and innovative day by day, with clean waters flowing through climate-smart drains and channels, with the La Virgen Marsh and the coastal wetlands recovering their fish population, the Historic Center adapted to the climate of the future, more tourists who appreciate their beauty and the quality of life, thus promoting job creation and sustained, more equitable growth for everyone.

Plan 4C has now become the first Climate Change Plan for a Coastal City in Colombia and is therefore an example to be followed by other cities and regions. The Plan contains a long term projection which will be followed by future administrations and become the road map to promote climate compatible development.

Further resources