Altos de la Estancia: An Applied Project of Risk Governance in Colombia

  • Duván Hernán López MenesesEmail author
  • Sonia Hita Cañadas
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Bogota is a city with a large number of informal human settlements, particularly along its eastern and southern borders where the mountainous terrains, the precarious settlement origins and historical absence of governance has resulted in the configuration of climate risks. That is the case of “Altos de la Estancia”, the site of one of the largest urban landslides in Latin America where 73 ha were directly affected and more than 3000 families were evicted or resettled due to the occurrence of strong landslides between the years 1998 and 2002. Initially, varied risk management measures, initiatives and investments were implemented in Altos de la Estancia in mean of competing claims, resulting in a fragile process of recovery confounded by a growing amount of reoccupations, illegal activities and degradation of the landscape. A comprehensive recovery project was designed and implemented between the years 2012 and 2016, with an approach that recognized the social construction of risk, to promote as a response an strategy of risk governance, that allowed short term physical transformations and long term schemes of adaptation and resilience conceived to stimulate the appropriation, creativity and empowerment sufficient to project such space from a high-risk zone into a future public park. Institutions, communities and other allies were empowered to configure, protect and expand the project’s impact. A sense of appropriation was fostered resulting in a collective presence that rapidly transformed the space and constituted a social barrier to confront the destructive forces competing against the recovery of the entire area. The Altos de la Estancia recovery project was recognized worldwide as one of the top 20 disaster risk reduction—people centered, sustainable and innovative initiatives, with the granting of the Risk Award 2015 by the Global Risk Forum, the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction and the Munich Re Foundation, during the third United Nations global conference on disaster risk reduction on Sendai.


Risk governance Social adaptation Cultural resilience Social creation of space Appropriation Climate risks 



We want to recognize the collaboration and support provided by the team Unescosost Colombia and Unesco Chair on Sustainability at UPC: Jordi Morató, Jorge Montoya, Yesica Ardila and Brent Villanueva. To the former coordinator of the Agreement 587 of 2013: Ana María Buriticá; to Arabella Fraser, David Reyes, Alirio Duque and Luis Sáez Rueda for the advising and assistance. To Nicola Tollin and Margarita Pacheco from RECNET, to the Community leaders in Ciudad Bolivar, Bogotá, Colombia: Humberto Oviedo, Libardo Rodríguez, Agustín Nieto, Inocencio Cepeda, Bertilda Salas, Ciro Ortega and Heriberto Flor and on behalf of many of them to the Mesa Técnica Altos de la Estancia. To the Network of Communications Altos de la Estancia—REDESTANCIA. To Elkin González, community delegate on the Municipality Council of Planing and on the Local Council of Risk Management of Ciudad Bolivar. To the people of the Institute for Risk Management and Climate Change of Bogota—IDIGER and other public institutions that lead and support the implementation of the action plan for the recovery of altos de la Estancia. To Jorge Aguaza and Kristen Blue who dedicate their time reviewing or supporting the translation into English. To Colfuturo that currently supports by funding part of the research presented.10 To our parents and relatives that stand up for us during the long journeys of the project implementation and the current research and in particular to little Eloi and Xué. To all of them so many thanks.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duván Hernán López Meneses
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sonia Hita Cañadas
    • 2
  1. 1.RECNET—Recycling Cities Network InternationalBogotáColombia
  2. 2.UNESCO Chair on Sustainability - Universitat Politècnica de CatalunyaTerrassa, BarcelonaSpain

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