‘Colombian-Dutch Dialogues’ Kicks Off


The ‘Colombian-Dutch Dialogues’ will start today and last until 4 December 2014 in the coastal city of Santa Marta, Colombia.

Dutch water experts will debate an urgent erosion problem affecting the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The event will be led by international engineering and consultancy firm Witteveen+Bos. Experts of Witteveen+Bos and other Dutch water professionals will enter into dialogue with Colombian stakeholders. The main themes discussed will be coastal protection, infrastructure and the environment.

Coastal erosion is a major issue in Colombia, as the coastal region is densely populated and serves as the country’s main tourist destination. The specific coastal erosion problem to be discussed monitored by Witteveen+Bos’ Roberto Zanetti concerns a site at kilometer marker 19 of the RN90 motorway between Santa Marta and Barranquilla.

The motorway was constructed on a sand tongue between the sea and the old delta of the Magdalena River, and is a major transport artery. The construction of the RN90 has led to a deterioration of water quality in the area, and has caused swamp vegetation, mangrove forests and certain species of fish to disappear.

The motorway is affected by erosion due to local climate conditions and other factors, resulting in considerable economic damage. The Colombian authorities have constructed stone cladding as a temporary measure, but this solution does not resolve the problem in the long run. The coastal erosion at kilometer marker 19 is just one example of a wider problem that is affecting Colombia’s Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

The Colombian authorities decided to ask the Netherlands for assistance, as the two countries have a long history of collaboration in the field of water safety. The Colombian-Dutch Dialogues will be held under the auspices of the ‘Partners for Water’ program, and have been jointly organised by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

A representative delegation of Dutch water experts such as Paul Ravenstijn from Witteveen+Bos together with experts of RoyalHaskoningDHV, Arcadis, Deltares, HKV, Imares, MTI Holland and the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, will hold talks up to the ministerial level.

Once the four-day session has been concluded, the Dutch experts will prepare a problem analysis and propose a number of possible solutions. The recommendations will be presented to a number of Colombian government ministers on the last day of the dialogue session.

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