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Symposium 2011

Proposal - Managing Adaptation to Climate Change in the Developing World

The Challenge

In policy discussions of climate change, mitigation has been the main focus to date but adaptation to climate change is moving up the policy agenda. Simulation models suggest that the negative effects ...

In policy discussions of climate change, mitigation has been the main focus to date but adaptation to climate change is moving up the policy agenda. Simulation models suggest that the negative effects of climate change disproportionately fall on the developing world. Some argue that such effects have already started to become visible in the form of agricultural damage, displacement of people by floods, etc.

Proposed solution:

Natural ecosystems have been proven one of the most cost effective tools for adaptation to climate change. Therefore, we use natural protected areas as an effective tool to tackle climate change.

Summary of proposal

Climate change represents a growing threat to the natural and human capital worldwide. It has been predicted to impact ecosystems in several ways, such as diminishing water supply. However, natural ecosystems have been proven one of the most cost effective tools for adaptation. We therefore, use natural protected areas as an effective tool to tackle climate change.

In this context, Mexico, through the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) has developed its Climate Change Strategy for Protected Areas. This is a document that enlists strategies and actions to mitigate climate change, identify and implement priority measures for adaptation, and establish guidelines for the National Commission management decisions. The Strategy considers two main operative components, mitigation which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation of protected areas and their buffer zones and increase carbon sinks in protected areas; and adaptation, which aims to reduce vulnerability of ecosystems and their human communities and increase ecosystem resilience.

CONANP carried out, among others, the project Development of pilot climate change adaptation programs in natural protected areas in Southeast Mexico in collaboration with civil society organizations, academy and local governments in order to develop a methodology for four protected area clusters, that guides and supports the design and execution of adaptive measures to climate change, aimed at preserving ecosystem functionality, local biodiversity’s genetic capacity, and ecosystem services that benefits communities and natural resource users in these areas.

The purpose of the project is to be develop in four sets of Natural Protected Areas in the Southeast of Mexico. We follow a methodology for developing programs focused on designing and implementing measures of adaptation to impacts of climate change that are expected, this is based on scientific evidence and case studies in several parts of the world, and taking advantage of the experience and knowledge of researchers, personnel of the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP) as well as the local inhabitants of the region. The project is focused not only on the protected areas selected, but also on the landscape where these areas are inserted, as well as on the human communities living in these places.

Because the effects of climate change in several cases are uncertain, mainly over biodiversity, and ecosystems, the methodology we would like to use is based on the precautory principle and pretends to involve many different actors interested in the conservation of the natural capital, as well as the maintenance of natural resources and the ecosystem services they produce, to benefit human populations. The products generated by this project include estimations of the main impacts of climate change for the several types of ecosystems in the region, as well as over the species of key importance. In this project we have identified strategies which contribute to resilience and ecologic connectivity, fundamental for the maintenance of the essential ecological processes. All this will prevent the loss of biodiversity and conservation of natural resources as well as ecosystem services of which human communities depend.

The success of the adaptation of the natural protected areas will depend greatly in the coordination of efforts and synergies between different actors, which in coordination with the people of CONANP are working towards the conservation of the biodiversity as well as the sustainable development of the people living in these areas.

In the framework of these programs of adaptation to climate change, one important strategy is to strengthen the resilience of the communities living in the protected areas. This is achieved through helping people, to improve its productive capacity, allowing them to insert their work and products in markets that are friendly to the environment. This improves economic resilience of these communities in a way which helps them deal better with the impact of the effects of climate change.

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