Defending its citizens against the effects of extreme weather and joining national emission reduction ambitions
Monteria, Colombia lies on the banks of the River Sinú and around 50 Km from The Caribbean Sea. The city is blessed with fertile soil and is nestled amongst rural villages and farmland. The city is home to near on 360,000 citizens. Over 10,000 are vulnerable to extreme flooding, and over 7,000 are exposed to a potential 100-year flood.
Safeguarding these thousands of people in the face to climate change is paramount. This is why, in 2014, the city worked in partnership with a consulting company to conduct an analysis of approximately 57,600 buildings to identify areas of future growth and the most vulnerable areas of the city’s infrastructure in need of reinforcement. Findings from the assessment painted a clearer picture; of this threat; about 50% of public spaces, over 23% of water and sanitation services and almost 32% of Montería’s schools are exposed to flooding.
By mapping flood risk to the city’s infrastructure and citizens in this way, Montería laid the foundations on which to build resilience. To protect vital infrastructure and the people living and working in it, Montería has started reinforcing its storm sewer network, strengthening the city’s resilience to flooding from its foundations and up. At 45 km long, the storm sewer network has been extended and re-engineered to store water for drainage and irrigation purposes, diverting flood water away from urban areas, thereby minimising risk to vital infrastructure and the city’s 36,000 people. To date, the city has reinforced the sewer network to providing coverage to 95% of urban areas.
The city is working is to increase the green areas, thus reduce soil sealing, one of the aggravating floods. In order to extend its urban green space, the city launched in 2016 “One Hundred Thousand Trees” program sets the target of planting this precise number throughout Montería. Supported by multiple businesses including Veolia, 80,500 have been planted along the banks of the River Sinú and other areas at high risk of flooding. In addition, the city park´s master plan has set out how to construct and recover urban parks, turning them into areas for recreational and sports activities. It went from having 0.9 m2 in 2010 to 2.7 m2 in 2015 of effective public space per inhabitant.
Montería is also making headway towards joining national efforts to cut emissions, through the Climate Change Master Plan “Montería Ciudad Verde 2019” which puts forward a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. As a starting point, the city worked with multiple stakeholders, including its principal university to calculate its carbon footprint.
In order to achieve the target, Montería Monteria has launched its Energy Cities Program as energy accounts for 18.9% of the city’s total emissions. In partnership with the Swiss Cooperation Agency and the Energy Mining Unit, they are transforming five schools, fitting them with solar panels and other energy saving infrastructure – an endeavour set to reduce annual electricity consumption by 240,000 KWh and reduce associated emissions by 25,680 tonnes.
Hugo Kerguelen García, Municipal Planning Secretary said, “All these actions are aimed at improving quality of life for our people.Our 100,000 trees are improving air quality, capturing approximately 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, and adapting the urban heat island effect. Recovered green urban space has given citizens greater opportunity to walk and cycle,
Meeting the goals of the climate change master plan and using it as a road map has allowed the city to be recognized for its drive to become a sustainable city for citizens now and in the future.”
Montería sees first-hand what climate change means for the people and infrastructure within its boundaries. By working with multiple stakeholders to understand the future this could spell out and develop strategies to tackle this head on, Montería is making strides in its climate action. But the city is also aware of the urgent need to cut emissions and is playing a part in the low carbon transition. This level of climate action and ambition has earned Montería a spot on the 2019 A List.
See Montería’s full disclosure response (PDF) to learn more about their climate action.