AECID and the European Union promote the urban transformation of Barranquilla to mitigate the impact of climate change

Barranquilla, Colombia
February 07, 2024

The Colombian city is committed to blue and green infrastructure in order to combat climate change and better cope with its effects through the LAIF City Life project, which receives funding from LACIF.

In the fight to mitigate the effects of climate change, Barranquilla, the fourth most populated city in Colombia, has chosen to promote its blue and green infrastructure; an urban planning concept aimed at reducing pollution, mitigating flooding and heat, increasing biodiversity and promoting social cohesion. The LAIF City Life Program, promoted by AECID and the EU, contributes to making this transformation a reality through the comprehensive recovery of the Caño Mercado and Caño Ahuyama and Mallorquín swamp areas.



Colombia is the South American country with the highest recurrence of extreme phenomena and 84% of its population is exposed to two or more threats, according to the World Bank. Barranquilla, being a coastal city, is particularly fragile to certain events such as floods, hurricanes and heat waves, with an intensity expected to raise along with the progressive increase in temperature, estimated by 1.4 ºC by 2040 and up to 3.2 ºC by 2070 in Colombia, according to the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies. All this, coupled with rapid and poorly planned urbanization, the proliferation of informal settlements and the increase in population density in coastal areas, contributes to making the consequences of climate change more serious.



Blue and green infrastructure is an urban planning strategy focused on the sustainable use of water resources and the integration of natural areas into the urban environment. This involves the design of green areas and bodies of water, as well as proper management of stormwater. The combination of these elements helps reduce pollution, mitigate flooding and heat, increase biodiversity, promote social cohesion and, ultimately, improve the quality of life of citizens.



To face these challenges, the fourth most populated city in Colombia is promoting two blue and green infrastructure projects to recover two of its most important ecological assets: the caños, a pipe system, and the Mallorquín swamp.

To achieve this, it counts with the support of LAIF City Life, an initiative promoted by AECID and the European Commission that subsidizes the preparation of the technical studies necessary to undertake the material execution of the projects.

The project "Public space for the comprehensive recovery of the Caños Mercado and Ahuyama" includes cleaning, hydraulic restoration, landscape improvement and ecological restoration of the pipe system. The objective is to transform the environment of the pipes into a linear park that revitalizes the center of Barranquilla, improves air and water quality and provides a public recreation space.

The pipes of the city of Barranquilla constitute an intricate system of navigable canals of the Magdalena River and have played a crucial role in the evolution and growth of the city and are used as a transportation route, and as a commercial and meeting space.

These pipes, which run through the eastern area of the city before their mouth into the Caribbean Sea, have been affected in recent years by pollution and the gathering of garbage, and floods have threatened the environment, the quality of life of inhabitants and economic opportunities.



To address these challenges, the LAIF City Life initiative has awarded a subsidy of EUR 310,716 to carry out preliminary technical studies to design the necessary improvements in the Caños Mercado and Ahuyama. The action is integrated into the 'Soy Barranquilla' Development Plan, which has the support of the national government and will positively impact some 150,000 inhabitants.

The recovery of the pipes will help protect the Mallorquín swamp, a coastal lagoon of high ecological value that also receives support from the initiative. The project “Ecoparque Distrito Aventura” contributes to the transformation of the swamp into a public space for recreation and ecotourism, benefitting people and contributing to the conservation of the mangrove ecosystem, crucial for the stability of the coast and local biodiversity.

Published originally on LAIF City Life's website