[16] Cartagena – Pioneer at the Coast

The old city centre of Cartagena is recognised by UNESCO as world heritage; it is astonishing! But what is astonishing as well, is the role it claims to have in the future.

Between the old city walls Cartagena houses its world heritage; it was the most important city of the Spanish colonists when striking down in Colombia. Out of here they exported all the wealth of the nation to Spain, to Europe.


Nowadays Cartagena is still an important economic hub, even though with changed power and economic relationships between export and import; besides being a Touristic hub. Eventually, Cartagena is both, gaining wealth by its industry, especially the port and cement factories, and its tourism.


Nevertheless, life outside of the city walls is different, way different than life is inside of it. IT reminds me of the old Medieval division as known in Europe, where the important and wealthy people, could shelter between the city walls, while the farmers where working and living on their fields, with only the shade of the walls as protection.


Another strength of the city, besides its wall, is its strategic position at the coast; moreover, for those who’ve been there or looked up Cartagena on a map, you’ll notice the genius natural protection of the bay around the city, making it a strategical chosen, invincible city throughout history.

Nowadays on the other hand, its strength, might become its weakness, and walking aside the coast shows why. Waves are taking over some of the lower roads, and the long running beach around the city is shrinking. The sea is taking over the city.

Coastal Pioneer

This is not a coincidence and various factors together cause this phenomenon, which is unfortunately not unique to Cartagena, as I’ll explain later on. Moreover, it will not solve itself and get worse over time, due to climate change, which not only causes rising sea levels, but changing tides, and extreme weather events as well; all of them are threatening the coastal cities.


Cartagena decided to fight back and is even willing to become a coastal pioneer, showing other coastal pioneers the way how to become resilient and even turn climate change into an opportunity. Their strategy contains some useful ideas, such as restoring the mangroves and nature as natural protection against coastal erosion and relocating the people who are living in the most vulnerable zones and are mostly the less wealthy ones.

Despite its urgency and necessity, the implementation of the plan goes slow, and a lot of progress needs to be made fast. At least the first step is taken, the awareness is risen, the ideas are brought together, and, maybe with the right people, and funding, they can execute it, showing itself and others the way before the ocean makes its way into the city.

Luckily, in the meantime, individuals and companies are already doing their part, as I’ll tell you in next post.

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