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Published on 21-02-2023



The city of Cartagena, located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, faces major challenges due to water-related issues such as floods and declining water quality. In order to improve the city’s water system, Colombia and the Netherlands have joined forces as part of the Water as Leverage Cartagena project. Water as Leverage is a Dutch-founded public-private partnership (PPP) programme launched in 2018. It addresses climate issues raised by the Paris Agreement and a number of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Water for Leverage - Cartagena project is to generate innovative conceptual designs to address climate change adaptation and urban water management challenges in the city. Within the International Call for Action, Felixx was selected – as part of a multidisciplinary team - to address the issue.

The project strives for an inclusive approach, considering multiple perspectives: nature, water & resilience, addressing the segregation of vulnerable communities, urban planning, transport & mobility, governance, and finance. By including all stakeholders in the process and involving vulnerable groups directly affected by the plans, Water as Leverage provides a roadmap for concrete integral multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary solutions.

Roots of Cartagena

In our proposal “Las Raíces de Cartagena” (Roots of Cartagena) we considered seven different research tracks and perspectives on how to achieve an integral and holistic design result to mitigate water challenges based on Nature Based Actions. Not only focussing on flood reduction, but also on employment, economy, biodiversity and health. To achieve a holistic design, we consider seven perspectives or roots: nature - what are the natural conditions and assets, water & resilience - the threats of water, like flooding, water quality issues, urban challenges - the segregation of vulnerable communities, including the different ethnic groups enriching Cartagena, urban planning and transport and mobility, governance - overlapping responsibilities and O&M, economy - formal and informal and finance - tax income of the city and funding options of the concepts.

Multidisciplinary teams

Through Water as Leverage Cartagena, two multidisciplinary teams will generate conceptual designs, develop project proposals to a pre-feasibility level, and transform them into ready-to-tender projects to improve Cartagena’s water system.

Team 1 consists of the consortium ‘Roots of Cartagena’: Witteveen+Bos (lead organisation, the Netherlands), Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners (the Netherlands), Aqua & Terra Consultores Asociados S.A.S. (Colombia), FEM Colombia (Colombia), Universidad de Cartagena - Colombia (Colombia), CSC Strategy & Finance (the Netherlands).

Arcadis (lead organisation, the Netherlands), Deltares (the Netherlands), JESyCA (Colombia), Fundacion Herencia Ambiental Caribe (Colombia), TALLER Architects (Colombia), Selfinver Banca de Inversión (Colombia), One Architecture & Urbanism (ONE) (USA), P3 Nomads (the Netherlands) together form the second team, the consortium ‘Cartagena Con Agua’.

The selection of the teams was done by RVO, in consultation with the Water as Leverage Cartagena Advisory Board which consists of the Mayor’s Office of Cartagena, Invest International, the Netherlands’ Embassy and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Water as Leverage Cartagena is facilitated by the Government of the Netherlands, in partnership with the Alcaldía de Cartagena de Indias, Colombian national authorities and national and international strategic partners. Water as Leverage Cartagena is financed through the ‘Partners for Water 2022 – 2027’ and ‘PSD Toolkit’ programmes.

The two multidisciplinary teams will soon start with the development of innovative, integral and implementable co-designed solutions to address Cartagena’s water-related challenges and leverage opportunities.

Learn more about this collaboration through the Partners for Water website and the Water as Leverage Cartagena website.

We wish the two consortia a prosperous start!




Cartagena, Colombia


Research, Masterplan


Partners for Water


Water as Leverage Cartagena
Partners for Water

Team & partners

Michiel van Driessche
Deborah Lambert
Marnix Vink
Eduardo Marin Salinas
Monica Velasco B. 
Witteveen + Bos
Aqua & Terra Consultores Asociados S.A.S.
FEM Colombia
Universidad de Cartagena 
CSC Strategy & Finance

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