Circular Cities – Colombia, Bolivia 

The planned city-to-city cooperation aims to improve the integrated and inclusive solid waste management system of the cities of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia and Cali in Colombia. 
Cali, Colombia
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Project duration
2023 - 2023
Financed by
  • City of Zurich, Finance Department

The circular economy model has gained significant attention in recent years due to the environmental, social, and economic benefits it offers. The model aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible by reducing waste and minimising the consumption of finite resources. 

The city of Cali, Colombia, produces around 1,300 tons of waste per day, of which only 10% is recycled. The remaining waste is dumped in landfills, which are quickly filling up and posing significant environmental and health risks to the local communities. The living conditions for people in Cali are affected by the poor waste management practices, including air pollution and water contamination.

Similarly, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, waste management is a significant challenge. The city generates approximately 500 tons of waste per day, and only around 7% of this waste is recycled. Most of the waste is disposed of in landfills, which are reaching their maximum capacity, resulting in environmental degradation and health risks for the local population.

Improving circularity in Cali and Santa Cruz de la Sierra is necessary to address the environmental, social, and economic challenges associated with poor waste management. A circular economy approach would promote sustainable production and consumption practices, reduce waste generation, and increase recycling rates. Additionally, circular economy projects can create new jobs and business models and contribute to resource efficiency.

The project

The city-to-city cooperation will cover four areas that will guarantee the implementation of an integrated and inclusive solid waste management approach in Santa Cruz and Cali:

  1. Collection of waste and recyclables
  2. Recycling and waste treatment
  3. Public engagement
  4. Governance, following a circular economy vision

During the first inception phase in 2023, the project develops concrete themes from these four areas that will be addressed in a subsequent project implementation. In line with the Regulation on International Cooperation of the City of Zurich (RIZA), the feasibility of this initial concept has to be assessed and preparatory activities have to be undertaken in order to elaborate a detailed cooperation concept for the full rollout of the city-to-city cooperation. For this purpose, Swisscontact will conduct an inception phase, of at least 8 months from January 2023 to August 2023. Once the city-to-city cooperation is deemed feasible, a full-fledged cooperation concept will be elaborated in a collaborative manner between Swisscontact and the three partner cities Cali, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Zurich.

Project partners

  • Alcaldía de Cali
  • Alcaldía de Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Expected results

In this inception phase of 2023, the general goal is the construction of the Cooperation Concept (PRODOC).


Green cities
A heartbeat for sustainability: When the circular economy and recyclers' grassroots route planning unite
According to the UN, one of the four main problems standing in the way of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the growing mountains of waste. A World Bank study has shown that waste management currently accounts for about 1.6 billion tons of climate-damaging greenhouse gases - around five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without improvement measures, these emissions could grow to a staggering 2.6 gigatons by 2050.