Montería sustainable growth

Posted on September, 18 2014

Low-carbon growth in emerging city 

Low-carbon growth in emerging city

Montería is the 2014 National Earth Hour Capital of Colombia, and it is the first city in the country to make a GHG emissions inventory and present a comprehensive climate change action plan. The Montería Green City 2019 plan aims to reduce emissions by 20% from a 2009 baseline, adapt the city to climate change, and improve urban growth. Action plans include the initiative to plant one million trees, install solar energy in education institutions as a part of the international Solar Schools Network, and raise awareness about its mobility plans with two car-free days a year.

Montería was awarded the title Global Earth Hour Capital in Earth Hour City Challenge 2014

Keywords: emerging city, climate change plan, low income city, democratization, development

With 422,000 inhabitants, Montería is capital of the Department of Córdoba, in northern Colombia, and as the center of the country’s livestock business, called the “Cattle Capital of Colombia.” The city has a unique heritage and culture as result of a population blend of Zenu Indians, Spanish settlers, African plantation workers, and Arab immigrants. Although there is a small middle class living off the relatively prosperous cotton farming and cattle ranching, Montería is a low income city with more than a third of the population below povery levels. The city refers to itself as an “emerging city” and according to UN Habitat, it tops the urban inequality rates in Latin America together with some other Colombian cities.

Climate plan engaging citizen
This background makes the Montería Green City 2019 plan all the more impressive with its 26 actions to address 15 challenges, including: urban mobility, energy efficiency and renewable energy, waste management, basic sanitation and drinking water, sustainable construction, environmental responsibility, agricultural and livestock development, climate change vulnerability, adaptation and resilience, citizen culture, conservation of ecosystems, and reforestation and green zones.

The process started with Montería’s signing the Mexico City Pact in 2010, pledging to fight climate change. With the help of different stakeholders, including the local university, the city made a carbon footprint calculation, which formed the basis of the Climate Plan that was launched in 2011. The plan calls for equitable urban policies, investments in infrastructure, enhancement of public spaces and promotion of a civic culture, and has already started to change the community (see also Muangklang). According to Carlos Eduardo Correa, Montería’s mayor since 2012, while the plan first was deemed a utopian fantasy, it allowed city planners to bring about a real change in the mindsets of the city administration, and then the wider community, and different stakeholders are actively taking ownership of the plan, even spontaneously offering to work as volunteers.

An array of sustainability actions
In just a few years, Monteria has launched an array of programs:
  • To deal with the problems of tens of thousands of migrants, settling in high-risk areas without access to services, the city has built 5,000 homes with decent housing and access to public services, parks and security, and is planning several thousand more.
  • Montería has become a pilot city in the Sustainable and Competitive Cities program of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Financial Institution for Development (Findeter), receiving funding for projects.
  • The city has extended the reach of the sewage system from 53% to 86% with the goal of connecting all households by 2015. It has provided access to drinking water to 100% of the residents (see also Nairobi).
  • It has strengthened public security, tripling the police force.
  • The city has launched a number of education programs, including sending teachers to English-speaking countries with the goal of making educational institutions bilingual, educating teachers in new technologies and environmental issues, and distributing free tablet computers to provide students with access to the Internet to improve study skills.
  • Montería’s pioneering “Citizen Social Service” program in which initially 1,800 young students taught civic culture and environment, has grown to 16,000 young people all over Colombia educating citizens in open spaces.
  • The city has installed solar PV panels in five schools as part of the international Solar Schools Network – which aims to spread the knowledge and skills needed in the solar industry. The program simultaneously supplies renewable energy to street lighting, government buildings, and the private sector.
  • Montería has started a reforestation initiative with the aim of planting one million trees by 2019, engaging 1,000 people in the process and raising awareness of the benefits of green spaces in the city while improving soil quality in the city’s green zones.

In addition, the city has: introduced sustainable practices in the agricultural and livestock sectors (see also Lubumbashi); started development of the Sinú River, which runs through the city, as a tourist attraction; launched the Green Days Car Free Day Initiative, arranging car free days twice a year; and begun improving the public transport system and building 30 km of dedicated bike lanes.

Vision of a sustainable Montería
By 2015, Montería aims to make the city’s largest investment in education infrastructure in history, create a functioning transportation system, strengthen the health system, double public space, develop the city facing the river, and deliver Montería’s plan of action for the next 30 years. Mayor Correa’s vision of the future of Montería is as a city with greater social equality, more open public spaces, recognized as the world’s capital of linear parks, and as an environmentally sustainable city, driven by sustainable and equitable growth.

Wikipedia, Monteria,

Montería City: “Sustainable Urban Development and Social Inclusion”,

City Mayors, “Mayor of the Month for May 2014: Carlos Eduardo Correa, Mayor of Montería, Colombia”

FMDV, Veolia, Cities & Environment, creating sustainable wealth — Environmental Sustainability: Mainspring of Economic Resilience and Social Benefit, “Monteria (Colombia): A common dynamic to reduce carbon in the territory”,

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative, Working together for greater urban sustainability in Colombia,,9683.html

carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: Montería,

Financial Institution for Development (Findeter), “Montería seleccionada para convertirse en ciudad sostenible y competitive”,

Solar Academy International,

Text by: Martin Jacobson

Monteria and Sinu River
© City of Monteria
Wooden boat, Sinu River, Monteria
© City of Monteria
EHCC National Capital 2014 – Montería