M.Sc. Alejandro Jiménez Hernández
International Consultant on Adaptation to Climate Change
A number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have succeeded in formulating their Policies, Strategies and (National) Adaptation Plans. This places adaptation at the level of a State Policy that, supported by a normative body, should have a political force capable of guiding the planning for a resilient development in all economic sectors transversally in each country.
Thus, the need to make progress in adaptation to climate change opens up the opportunity to rethink development from a new perspective (i) intersectoral -the actions of one sector affect other sectors-; (ii) territorial -landscape-; and (iii) systemic -ecosystemic-.
However, this "cross-cutting" approach requires that the "adjustments" -which will be necessary to move forward in adaptation and reduce climate risk in each sector- must be carried out (i) being aware of how they will affect the other sectors and (ii) foreseeing the series of adjustments that will be necessary to carry out in all the linked and interdependent sectors. It will be necessary, therefore, to recognize that, when working on adaptation, we enter the hall of mirrors which reflect each other, where each of the movements and actions multiply and become systemic.
Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is a good example of the strategic need to develop this systemic, "trans-institutional", "multi-actor" and "multi-scale" vision that increases the resilience and sustainability of countries' economic agendas in the face of future climate scenarios. EbA would therefore cease to be part of the agenda of only the Ministries of the Environment and would be positioned in a set of institutions that watch over different sectors.
Let us take the example of moving forward with adaptive management of protected areas (PAs). When we speak of "adaptive management", we are referring to a type of management that allows us to face the changes in socio-economic, governance and environmental conditions that will come in the medium and long terms. Adaptive management -of PAs, sustainable agriculture areas, etc.- is a tool for EbA since it can contribute to ensuring continuity in the supply of environmental services as part of the set of adaptation measures developed by / for the population of a specific zone to adapt to conditions of global change and especially climate change.
This adaptive management of critical areas of the territory requires central government institutions to work together with municipal governments, local civil organizations and the private sector. It also requires that, among other things, the set of actors consider:
The landscape units where the PA is located and those it affects from its location: e.g. in the upper, middle or lower part of a basin; in the coastal zone; etc.
The spatial-territorial matrix, including land tenure factors and its uses and practices -agricultural, forestry, urban or tourist- that: (i) may modify land use and (ii) benefits from environmental services provided by that PA. This involves the ministries of agriculture and livestock, urbanism and public works, energy, mining and tourism.
The policies and institutions related to each environmental service provided by the PA: those institutions working on water resources, energy, genetic resources and biodiversity, food security, health and disaster risk management, public works.
The institutions deciding on incentive schemes for certain land uses or prevention of land use change in favor of environmental services. These are institutions such as the Ministries of Economy and Finance; of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock; of Planning and Land Management, etc.;
These schemes should also allow for a balance between conservation, development and provision of environmental services (Porras, I. et al., 2013) and seek an equitable sharing of benefits through e.g.: payment for environmental services that favors the reduction of vulnerability of producers and peasant and indigenous communities, incentives for sustainable agriculture initiatives, forest incentives and national and municipal regulations on land use/change such as the establishment of biological corridors and ecological restoration initiatives, among others.
The political relevance, which adaptation is gaining since the Paris Agreement, will require special efforts to organize knowledge and work in unison with institutions, municipal governments, local organizations and private actors.
Only concerted development planning will make it possible to: (i) align the country's sectoral agendas and development policies in the medium and long term taking into account future socio-economic scenarios, and climate and risk projections; (ii) bring this guideline to local level and consider the effects of these scenarios on the vulnerability of the various economic and social actors. Davis and Díaz (2014) further propose the need to (iii) increase articulation and coherence between development policies (investment promotion, job creation, etc.) and policies on food security, risk reduction and territorial development.
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) therefore opens the door to maximum coherence in the definition of sectoral development agendas which, being aware of the needs of other sectors, become trans-sectoral, systemic and with a clear vision of territory and time scale. This means a paradigm shift in development planning, driven by current and future times.
1.Davis, A.; Díaz, O., 2014. Adaptation and Accumulation: Challenges, contradictions and implications for Territorial Governance in the Dry Central American Corridor (in Spanish). Programa Salvadoreño de Investigación sobre Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente. PRISMA, San Salvador, El Salvador. Available at: https://prisma.org.sv/adaptacion-y-acumulacion-desafios-contradicciones-e-implicaciones-para-la-gobernanza-territorial-en-el-corredor-seco-centroamericano
2.Porras, I.; Barton, D.N.; Miranda, M. and Chacón-Cascante, A., (2013). Learning from 20 years of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Costa Rica. International Institute for Environment and Development, London. Available at: https://www.iied.org/payments-for-ecosystem-services-costa-rica-s-recipe