17, July, 2012

Strengthening Capacities for Climate Change Adaptation in Mountain Ecosystems: The Latin American Response

Over 50% of the world’s population depends directly or indirectly on mountain ecosystems, which are already being impacted by climate change. So how are Latin Americans that live in mountain areas strengthening their resilience to climate change?

Mountains provide a broad range of environmental services including water, energy, soils and biodiversity, and are of vital importance for local populations as well as ecosystems and human populations at lower altitudes. Climate change impacts in mountain ecosystems are therefore affecting large geographic areas and millions of people worldwide. In Latin America’s mountain ranges in Central America and the Andes, strategies to build capacities for climate change adaptation have generally been participative in nature and have aimed at improving natural resource conservation, providing access to new technologies and capturing traditional knowledge and practices. A strong focus has also been on maintaining water resources and agrobiodiversity. This Guide presents a range of experiences, publications and organisations from the region, concluding with lessons that could prove useful to other mountain regions of the world.

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Key Lessons:

  • Water resource management is a key issue for mountain regions of Latin America. Existing problems in water management, such as increasing demand, unequal distribution and poor environmental practices, must be tackled with approaches that build adaptive capacity to increasing climate variability.
  • Strategies aimed at preserving and promoting agro-biodiversity facilitate adaptation to climate change by improving food security amongst rural mountain communities.
  • Traditional cultures provide a rich source of knowledge and technologies that can facilitate adaptation to climate change and should be incorporated adequately into decision-making processes.

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