The Ciénagas of the bajo-Magdalena form a dynamic swamp ecosystem with a mix of water from the Cauca and Magdalena rivers. The area is considered an important ecosystem and water buffer during extreme hydrological events. Moreover, the area is seen as vulnerable to climatic variability in the context of climate change and La Niña/El Niño episodes. Throughout the region, several adaptation projects have been implemented and shared as success stories of nature-based adaptation. These projects vary from social-cohesion projects to infrastructural projects. The development of hydrological models, together with participatory activities have informed the implementation of adaptation measures, both through grassroots initiatives and governmental support. Current debates on the future of the river and marshlands include ideas around the navigability of the river, ecosystem services of the river, fish-friendly rivers, and reforestation initiatives.

PhD researcher: Lotte de Jong

Climate change adaptation has influenced river management through an anticipatory governance paradigm. As such, futures and the power of knowing the future have become increasingly influential in water management. Yet, multiple future imaginaries co-exist, where some are more dominant than others. In this PhD research, the focus is on deconstructing the future-making process in climate change adaptation by asking “what future-making tools and practices in the context of climate change adaptation influence river infrastructure for the Meuse and Magdalena rivers?”. Firstly, this investigation explores existing river imaginaries of diverse epistemic communities in both case studies. Secondly, it explores how imaginaries are materialized in tools and practices for climate change adaptation. It herein focuses on numerical models and participatory practices. Thirdly, this research explores how dominant imaginaries are contested and mobilized in climate change adaptation. The power of future-making is approached through a combination of Foucault and Butler’s conceptualization of power. Imaginaries are approached through a science and technology lens in combination with hydrosocial territories, and the imaginary holders are approached through the concept of epistemic communities. A focus on empirical research methods will guide theoretical findings. Finally, a reflection on researcher’s own positionality in action-research will be presented – which will be an iterative process of learning and unlearning while navigating between the natural and social sciences.