Knowledge sharing to uncover recipes from the vulnerability assessment melting pot
Researchers, funders, and policy makers from 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries, including four researchers from CIAT and CCAFS, participated in a regional workshop on climate change vulnerability organized by the UNEP REGATTA project and IICA (the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture). The objective of the workshop was to share knowledge on the development of climate change vulnerability assessments and tools to assist selection of resilience building adaptation actions. These assessments provide information on the cause of current and future vulnerability and potential impacts of climate change on different sectors, activities, ecosystems, and region.
An important lesson from the workshop was that due to the different political and geographic contexts and interdisciplinary nature of analysis processes, multiple ‘recipes’ for vulnerability assessments are required. Strengthening relationships with government entities was therefore emphasized to ensure that these assessments provide practical information matching the specific realities and needs of decision-makers across the region. Furthermore, there is a need for research on the models that could help predict future economic and social conditions.
Vulnerability of the Andes
The REGATTA project is initiating four climate change vulnerability and impact assessments in different regions in Latin America and the Caribbean. The first assessment is being led by CIAT, which covers the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. CIAT shared the experiences and advances of the analyses and demonstrated the process used to define the ‘vulnerability index,’ integrating exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity in the assessment. This was done using case study examples related to crops from each country to show how crop representation in study countries and socioeconomic factors that influence these processes were included.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of having a clear use for these types of studies from the beginning and creating them for practical application to government decision-making. To do this, CIAT has engaged actors in relevant ongoing initiatives in each study country in the process of reviewing analyses.
The CIAT led Andean Community of Practice (CoP-Andes), was presented along with the comprehensive communications strategy for the project. National authorities are being involved in virtual events and discussion forums, and an online library of documents and videos is being constructed to provide public access to all information derived from the study.
Tools for adaptation planning
Technical tools developed externally from the project were also shared through interactive seminars. CIAT shared lessons learned from applying a new CCAFS community-based adaptation planning framework in East and West Africa and Southeast Asia. The Participatory Social Return on Investment (PSROI) framework is a model for integrating community perceptions on climate change adaptation priorities and costs and benefits into planning adaptation projects. These lessons could serve as an example for establishing community input into planning processes in Latin American and the Caribbean, where CCAFS has recently opened a new regional office.
Presentation of PSROI stimulated discussion on how to include social, environmental, and economic costs and benefits in assessments of adaptation projects and what problems to be aware of. A general agreement was that simple versions of assessment processes are needed to allow governments and project developers to efficiently capture funds to support locally appropriate adaptation activities. Further discussion followed on how all of the externally developed tools presented can complement the vulnerability study results and help in assessing, planning, and implementing climate change adaptation actions.
The main challenge concerning vulnerability assessment methodologies is that each regional study found it necessary to develop its own, based on the system, the information available, and what was needed by decision makers. More information is needed by decision-makers, practitioners, and researchers on how, when, and in what combination to apply these methods in different situations.
For this reason the UNEP regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean is developing a best practices manual for assessing vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation to climate change as an outcome of the workshop, which CIAT and CCAFS will contribute to.
This manual will be useful to for government officials or practitioners that need to use results from vulnerability assessments or conduct their own to guide climate change planning. It will also be useful to researchers aiming to further develop methodologies.
Authors: Caitlin Corner-Dolloff, Flávia Cunha, Antonio Pantoja, Jeimar Tapasco, Manon Koningstein and Jhon Brayan Valencia.
The “Regional workshop for the exchange of experiences related to climate change vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean,” which took place from April 23-25 in Panama City, was organized by the UNEP REGATTA project (Plataforma Regional para la Innovación y la Transferencia de Tecnología para Cambio Climático/Regional Platform for Innovation and Technology Transfer for Climate Change) and IICA. Additional workshop materials and presentations are available online.
For further information on the “Center of Knowledge for Vulnerability and Impact Assessment of Climate Change on the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru” component of the REGATTA project:
- Jeimar Tapasco (firstname.lastname@example.org), Project Leader
- Flávia Cunha (email@example.com), Facilitator of the Andean Community of Practice and a representative of CIAT’s Capacity Strengthening and Knowledge Management Initiative
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For further information on the Participatory Social Return on Investment framework:
Contact Caitlin Corner-Dolloff (firstname.lastname@example.org), PSROI Project Leader for CIAT.
Additional tools presented by other organizations at the workshop include:
- Quick Scan by Manuel Winograd, Community Participatory Scenario Planning and additional community assessment tools by CARE, ArcSWAT by CATHALAC, CRiSTAL by IUCN, and methods for measuring adaptive capacity developed by CATIE.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) engages in science to cultivate change and is a member of the CGIAR consortium. The CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) addresses the increasing challenge of global warming and declining food security on agricultural practices, policies and measures.