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Adaptation measures in South America—but more are needed

In the face of high-impact threats from Climate Change, many South American countries are implementing concrete anticipatory measures; however, a richer understanding of impacts are needed.

Mario Bazan of FORO writes,

Some concrete actions designed to pre-empt catastrophic situations have been implemented. Governments and local organizations, supported by international cooperation organizations, have designed strategies, developed technologies and conducted research to collect case studies and evidence of the impacts of climate change. Some of these initiatives include country reports on climate change in almost all South American countries; Brazil's implementation of its national climate change strategy; changes to improve irrigation systems in the Andes in Peru and recuperation of traditional technologies; covering glaciers with sawdust to prevent melting; and international cooperation support programs to improve climate change adaptation plans.

This is particularly important given some of the particular vulnerabilities.

“Moreover, the UNFCCC scenarios consider that a growing number of people may have difficulties accessing clean water, particularly in the areas affected by the loss of glaciers. Regarding threats to food security, the scenarios indicate that agricultural production will be impossible in some areas, although other areas will be able to adapt new agricultural products to changes in soils and climatic conditions. However, some agricultural areas will suffer from desertification, salinization and erosion. The scenarios also describe habitat loss and species extinction, as well as lower levels of groundwater sources.”

Implications

Forecasted risks for South America are high and varied. FORO acknowledges that predicting climate change impacts are inherently fraught and, in South America’s case, under-investigated. Countries should collaborate and mobilize resources to assess the threats, particularly to native and rural communities, highlighting the need to assess potential impacts.

FORO writes,

“There is uncertainty about the future, particularly regarding the impacts of climate change. In order to reduce this uncertainty, it will be important to exponentially increase the stock of knowledge and information about climate change available to policymakers. A significant part of this research should be directed to assess the risks to the population, in particular to native and rural communities that are among the most vulnerable. Recognition of these scenarios will help to design adequate strategies to mitigate negative impacts and identify opportunities generated by climate change…countries should undertake join actions, mobilizing external and domestic financing and investing in research —at least these actions will increase awareness and possibly a sense of urgency.”

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Sources:

FORO June 2011 pages 2 – 3:
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/FORO_June2011.pdf#page=2

Wheeler, David (2011), “Quantifying vulnerability to climate change: implications for adaptation assistance”, CGD Working Paper 240. Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development. http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1424759

Véase: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-1-1.html
Garibaldi y Rey (2006), El Cambio Climático en América Latina y el Caribe, La Habana: PNUMA-SERMARNAT.

United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change-UNFCCC (2007), Climate Change: Impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in developing countries, Bonn: UNFCCC; http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/publications/impacts.pdf