Pilots for the restoration of mangrove ecosystems in Ciénaga de la Virgen (Cartagena, Colombia)

Felipe Gómez Villota
Published: 25 November 2016
Last edited: 02 October 2020
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The EbA program in Colombia is working together with the Mayor's office, the Botanical Gardens, local NGO's and communities in the implementation of pilot proyects for the restoration of mangroves in particularly vulnerable areas of the coastal lake of Ciénaga de la Virgen. These activities are part of a broader initiative that aims at supporting the city´s climate change plan (Plan 4C) and the national framework for (ecosystem-based) adaptation of Colombia´s Climate Change Policy.


South America
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Forest ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Tropical deciduous forest
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Cities and infrastructure
Disaster risk reduction
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Extreme heat
Loss of Biodiversity
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Ecosystem loss
Infrastructure development
Changes in socio-cultural context
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
Target 4: Reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020


Cartagena of Indias, Bolívar Department, Colombia | Ciénaga de la Virgen, Cartagena


Environmental: *the coastal area of Cartagena is heavily exposed to strong rain events, causing floods as well as drought periods and storm surges. *Inland wetlands and forests as well as mangroves have been degraded due to unsustainable land use and land conversion practices. *Consequently coastal communities, urban and rural infrastructure, but also private sector activities (especially tourism) are highly vulnerable. Socioeconomic: *Tourism as an important income source for private and public sector is affected by degraded ecosystems and climate risks. *Cartagena as a financial and economic center of Colombia is exposed to climate risks. *There is a lack of private and public financial instruments that can guarantee the economic sustainability of EbA measures in the long run. *Monitoring and evaluating EbA measures is still difficult given the complexity of risk models and the lack of unified impact indicators at the global or national level.


Authorities of Cartagena, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (INVEMAR), communities and enviromental organizations , business and hotel sector, academic community

How do the building blocks interact?

The continuous alignment of activities with the existing national and subnational framework for adaptation to climate change (BB1), especially the Plan 4C, is the guiding and linking element. The planning process (Combining empirical data with participatory planning approaches -BB2) helps to translate the strategic orientation into an implementation plan with concrete measures. BB3 (Forming and strengthening alliances for communication, capacity development and implementation, including financing) improves the conditions for successful implementation and long-term commitment.


*EbA – as a rather specific topic – has arrived on the political and institutional agenda in Cartagena. *The Plan 4 C has been filled with life and developed into a functioning multi-stakeholder platform. *Cartagena´s strategic framework for adaptation to climate change has been translated into concrete (ecosystem-based) adaptation measures and (new) alliances among stakeholders. *Regular dialogue and joint capacity development activities continuously contribute to a shared understanding of challenges and opportunities for (ecosystem-based) adaptation to climate change in Cartagena. *Both local communities and the private sector are becoming increasingly interested in implementing adaptation measures within Plan 4C´s framework. *Local authorities have incorporated the EbA approach in their plans, policies, programmes for reducing vulnerability to climate change.


Cartagena de Indias is considered one of Colombia’s most vulnerable cities in the Caribbean. By the end of the century, the country expects a more than 2-degree Celsius increase in average temperatures. Sea levels will rise as a result, coastal strips will disappear, and rainfall will increase. Until now, mangrove forests generally act as natural barriers against flooding and storms and protect people and infrastructure in Cartagena. Nevertheless, urban mangroves have been particularly exposed to high levels of pollution, deforestation and degradation, affecting their resilience and ability to provide quality ecosystem services to local communities. GIZ's EbA program is supporting the implementation of the “Plan 4C” - the general framework for adaptation and mitigation to climate change in Cartagena de Indias. As a first step, pilot projects for the restoration of mangroves in particularly vulnerable areas of the coastal lake of of ​​the Virgen Coastal Lake are being implemented together with the Mayor's office, the Botanical Gardens, NGO's and local communities. Strong alliances among key stakeholders build the foundation for further advocating EbA, for the acquisition of additional funds, for capacity development as well as for the consolidation of EbA as an important cornerstone of adaptation to climate change in Cartagena and throughout the territory of Colombia.

Contributed by

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Felipe Gomez Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Other contributors

GIZ Colombia