Cartagena de Indias is located in Colombia at the North of South America. It is a city of strong economic and social contrasts, with an area of 620 km2 and a population in continuous growth, close to two million inhabitants. To the world it is a beautiful and popular tourist destination, site of historic heritage, important port in the Caribbean and center of the oil industry, contributing almost 5% of GDP of the nation.

However, the poverty rates are close to 30%, with a cost of living which is among the highest in the country, in addition to serious environmental problems, a deficit of public services and where urban and environmental planning seems to be absent.

We face:

  • An ethnically diverse, segregated, demographically young and vulnerable population.
  • Environmental pollution.
  • Deficient and insufficient basic sanitation public services.
  • Decent housing deficit
  • Inclement weather
  • Area of mangroves and marshes (easy for epidemics spread)

We have:

  • High luminosity and solar radiation.
  • Strong breezes at different times of the year
  • Large bodies of salt water, seacoast and swamps
  • Diversity in Fauna and flora.

The proposal to make my city more sustainable and inclusive:

Knowing the incidence of political and financial factors, although the primary objective in our cities is the development and implementation of infrastructure services, hopefully by taking advantage of natural resources and implementing alternative energy and production systems that help improve and develop neighborhood living conditions (parallel to the projects that can and should be developed) the proposal is to start with programs of citizen culture and education.

Programs of citizen culture and education help to create a new consciousness to achieve the following: to decentralize, involve the community, create a sense of appropriation and turn each neighborhood into a micro urban, eco and sustainable unit that in addition to providing benefits for the community itself articulates in a harmonious way with the city network. It should create a scope of change and awareness for the benefit of all, at different levels where all sectors of the population are involved and can be applied immediately, for example:

  • Educating drivers and pedestrians and applying regulations will reduce the noise pollution, the accident rate and opens the possibility of using safer means of transport such as bicycles that contributes to improve air quality, promote physical exercise and more.
  • Request the industry to meet the requirements to minimize the environmental impact and involve them as part of the sponsors of ecological projects that benefit and involve the areas where they shock.
  • Regulate the informal economy by organizing distribution centers where sanitary and health measures can be demanded and controlled because as cities grow chaotically, garbage, water pollution, social problems of indigence, insecurity, and much more are faced.
  • Enforce the recycling culture.

The cities already have problems and needs. Planning is required in each of their sectors. With the collapse of excessive growth services, the service providers do not have enough coverage and sites like the periphery, where new settlements appear and/or where the poorest population is moving, suffer from the lack of services and negatively impact the environment.

To obtain their construction license, new projects must implement solutions for the site where they are going to be developed. Through universities, the education sector together with the support of public and/or private actors, can help to formulate and direct programs, apply technologies, and benefit from the knowledge in which urban nuclei become involved through citizen culture, pose and appropriate solutions to improve its areas without absolute dependence from the municipality.


About the Author

Deyanira Uruburu Gilède is a member of the Rainbow Project and currently resides in the city of Cartagena in Colombia. She is an alumnus of the 58th IHS International Course on Housing Planning and Building (ICHB).

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