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Accepted Paper:

"That’s where it’s all headed”: Prognostic politics, green gentrification and an urban wetland in Cartagena, Colombia  
Silke Oldenburg (Geneva Graduate Institute)

Paper Short Abstract:

The urban wetland Ciénaga de la Virgen is ground for extensive speculation in the port- and tourist city of Cartagena, Colombia. In particular, its mangroves are considered as ‘green gold’ providing insights into the contested futures of urban planning and belonging in this urban intertidal zone.

Paper Abstract:

Cartagena, a coastal city in Colombia, historically served as one of the major ports for the Spanish conquest of the Latin American continent, shipping enslaved Africans in and gold out. Today, the significantly diminished mangrove forest along the Ciénaga de la Virgen is Cartagena’s most treasured yet contested resource for combating rising sea levels, preventing erosion, and mitigating the consequences of urban climate change.

As a result, mangroves have transformed into “green gold” (oro verde), a neoliberal commodity associated with progress and economic development, in addition to their value in addressing the effects of climate change in this coastal city. Mangroves promise to become a new extractive industry, with a potential future trade of carbon capture and storage (CCS), while also contributing to Cartagena’s tourism portfolio through ecotourism. Consequently, the urban wetland and its mangroves become grounds for extensive speculation in Cartagena.

A local community leader reflects: “When the elites fill up the wetland, then it’s called ‘urban development’; when the poor fill up the wetland, it’s called ‘invasion’” (field notes, January 2023). Drawing on approaches from political ecology and critical urban theory, this case study addresses mangroves as part of widespread waterfront speculation, examining perspectives from both urban elites and local communities. It illuminates the tensions and manifold layers involved in the making and unmaking of urban space between land and water, exploring the nexus of prognostic urban politics, the interests involved in ‘green gentrification,’ and urban belonging in Cartagena’s intertidal zones.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 2 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -