Andean countries strike regional approach to climate adaptation

Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 13:22

Government experts from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela created a plan to work together in ten areas related to climate adaptation.

At the Andes Mountain Week, the countries finalized a Strategic Agenda for Climate Change Adaptation which will involve the support of UN Environment and the Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN).

The Agenda is based around ten policy areas where the states will share data and develop joint regional programmes: vulnerable groups, agriculture, ecosystems and biodiversity, water, health, energy and industry, disasters, research and planning, awareness and capacity building, as well as regional cooperation.

The plan includes a range of concrete adaptation measures, including that the area covered by meteorological and hydrological monitoring stations is to be increased to improve data quality. To ensure better protection of citizens, early warning systems for climate-related natural disasters will also be created or expanded, while key infrastructure and homes in mountain areas susceptible to climate risks will be modernised to be more resilient.

Countries will meanwhile coordinate research and monitor the effects of climate change at regional level while ensuring findings can be easily compared, thereby ensuring value for money. States also agree that information on climate adaptation will be included in the training of the local government officials.

Andean mountains are extremely vulnerable to climate change - by the end of the century, the coldest years in the Tropical Andes will be warmer than the warmest years to which animals and humans have adapted to so far. Substantial and wide-ranging effects on many sectors of society and the environment include the melting of glaciers and challenges for small-scale highland farmers.

Climate change also threatens society by degrading ecosystems and biodiversity - resulting in loss of ecosystem services, such as landslide protection and clean drinking water. Yet Andean countries take long-term temperature increase and changes in rain patterns seriously.

The purpose of this new Strategic Agenda is therefore to provide guidance for regional efforts in adapting to climate change in the Andean mountains. Regional cooperation will improve countries’ ability to react while boosting concrete solutions to address climate change.

“For the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development it is exceedingly important to work with our neighbouring countries to confront and solve climate change. The conclusions and decisions made in this meeting will ensure the wellbeing of our Andean communities, which directly or indirectly, have repercussions for the world population. We all depend on saving the planet,” said Carlos Alberto Botero López, Colombian Vice-Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

“We now have a common direction for adaptation measures for the Andes Mountains, which are highly vulnerable to climate change. The next step must be concrete adaptation action to improve the lives of people both in the mountains and downstream” said Mr. Matthias Jurek of UN Environment

Efforts to support Andean countries in enhancing adaptation action are part of a global UN Environment project to support developing mountain areas, which are disproportionally affected by climate change.

The project is funded by the Austrian government and includes the Mountain Adaptation Outlooks Series which assesses the latest evidence on climate change impact and existing adaptation action in the targeted mountain regions. The second step of the project was to promote regional cooperation to adapt to climate change issues in the mountains. The Strategic Agenda on Climate Change in the Andes is an important success of the participating countries and will hopefully inspire other ecoregions to improve cooperation for effective adaptation.

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