Exploring Financing Mechanisms for Resilient Green Infrastructure in Cali, Colombia

I2UD’s work over the past several years has increasingly focused on identifying and addressing vulnerabilities to climate change in low-income communities and building local capacity to develop and implement adaptation strategies. Budget limitations and a lack of financing mechanisms are a major constraint to implementing adaption strategies at the municipal level. Over the past year, the Institute has undertaken several projects focused on addressing this financing gap including assessing alternative resilience strategies in the coastal community of Dangriga, Belize and identifying potential public and private financial solutions. In the forthcoming Lincoln Institute of Land Policy publication, Financing Urban Climate Adaptation through Land Value Capture in Latin America and the Caribbean Research Fellow, Jim Kostaras, explores the potential for funding adaptation strategies through land value capture. Building off this work, I2UD is currently undertaking a research project in partnership with the Institute for Housing and Urban Development (IHS) and Universidad del Cali (Univalle), supported by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, to investigate the use of land value capture instruments and the benefits associated with introducing green resilient infrastructure along the Cañaveralejo River in Cali, Colombia.

The dam section of Cañaveralejo River which regularly floods, is used as a recreational space by the residents from the adjacent informal settlements

Santiago de Cali, “Cali”, is the third largest city in Colombia and is located in the Cauca Valley in the south of the country. Cali is crossed by several rivers, including the Cañaveralejo River, which descends from the Farallones Mountains and empties into the Cauca River. The river flows through a range of neighborhoods, from informal settlements at the base of the mountains to middle income residential areas and higher income gated communities, sport facilities and stadiums. During periods of heavy rainfall, the Cañaveralejo River overflows its banks, flooding adjacent housing and disrupting local businesses. The city has attempted to reduce flooding by canalizing several sections of the river. A dam was also previously constructed with a flood gate to control the flow of water, but overtime the flood gate has been taken apart by residents.

Community members map vulnerable areas along the Cañaveralejo River

Senior Fellow Jim Kostaras and Research Associate Barbara Summers traveled to Cali last week to undertake a site assessment, and participate in a community workshop and forum introducing green infrastructure and land value capture mechanisms. The workshop brought together community leaders for an initial discussion and mapping of vulnerable areas along the Cañaveralejo River including areas that regularly flood, illegal solid waste dump sites and areas contaminated by household wastewater, as well as areas of encroachment by informal housing along the river banks. After an introduction to some examples of green infrastructure and their benefits, the workshop participants also mapped potential inventions along the study area. The week concluded with a forum including a panel made up of local experts and the I2UD team to introduce the local context and examples of land value capture instruments to an audience of local officials, representatives from local NGO’s, community members, and students.

In the coming months several additional workshops will be held to identify and design interventions with the community in the Cañaveralejo River corridor to reduce the impacts of flooding as well as create recreational and green spaces for the community. The project team will also assess the multiple benefits of green infrastructure projects including risk reduction and evaluate land value capture as a potential finance source stemming from these benefits.