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EcoAdapt project – Working paper on social dynamics during adaptation planning

This report is based on studies of the EcoAdapt project on ecosystem-based strategies and innovations in water governance networks for adaptation to climate change in Latin American Landscapes
Multiple Authors


This deliverable reports on the social dynamics we observed during the adaptation planning activities in each Model Forest (MF) which started in the second semester of 2013. From this analysis we hope to contribute to identify interesting lessons for adaptation planning at the landscape scale. This can be especially valuable for landscape initiatives where multi- stakeholders platforms can play a key role to design alternative actions to conserve water resources in the face of a changing climate, reinforce their implementation and monitor their performance and adjust them to changing conditions.

It is worth mentioning that during this phase the project is transitioning from a research phase, where the efforts were devoted to research design and implementation together with knowledge validation and fertilization engaging stakeholders (with an empahsis on co- production and social learning, to a more action-oriented phase aimed at co-building with a group of local stakeholders (i.e. the scenario panel) narratives of alternative development option that can be valued and assessed for adaptation planning. In other words we are moving from action-research to action-research where local participation, engagement in design and implementation of action becomes more prevalent (Figure 1).

Figure 1 from report (p.5). Action-research to action-research

Social dynamics in the Adaptation planning process – Chile

A first important change in social dynamics in the EcoAdapt Chilean site concerns the introduction of the water adaptation as a key priority in the multi-stakeholder platform of the Model Forest. Initially, the MF was focusing mainly on forest, tourism and agriculture and only after their involvement in EcoAdapt they started to realize the threat posed by climate change on water resources and their function in local economic development. As a result their 2013-2016 Strategic Plan of Forest Model Araucarias Alto Malleco, explicitly introduced water adaptation for local economic development.

In Chile, the presence of the multi-stakeholder platform is acknowledged by local actors and, at least according to previous experience in fostering a Forest Sector Discussion Group, possibly the MF represents a appropriate place for discussion as experienced in former multi- stakeholder’ initiatives. In this respect, participating actors have also mentioned the importance of considering the formation of a Water Discussion Group at the landscape level. In Chile, the MF has informal authority to facilitate and call for debate but no formal authority to legally reinforce regulations and implementation of actions identified in adaptation plans in the landscape and in scope of climate change, water, and local development.

Given that there is not yet predefined joint agreement to develop and implement an adaptation plan the objective of the workshops was to strengthen the bonds of trust and collaboration between the individuals representing the multitude of organizations. This was done by allowing a number of thematic axes to coexist with each other in such a way that everyone felt included in the process. The drawback of this approach was that the scale and scope of the plan remained very broad. Similarly to the workshop in Argentina, a number of quick-starts were identified in the workshop with the purpose of: (1) strengthening the informal authority of the MF; (2) fostering working relationships between the formal authority organizations that participated in the workshop; and (3) ripening the challenges of climate change and water in the territory.

Stakeholders in the Model Forest identified objectives and actions that aim at water resources planning and ecosystem-based adaptation in their thriennial Strategic Plan to build on the work of EcoAdapt. Introducing these themes in the Model Forest Strategic Plan resulted from the first years of EcoAdapt involvement and have helped increasing the legitimacy and visibility of the Model Forest Platform in the debate on water resources in the region. Most of the participating actors have been engaged in previous knowledge-sharing workshops where results from the diagnostic phase have been presented and discussed (cf deliverable 1.2). All these stakeholders have maintained their interest and engagement in the planning meetings (have interest but also some knowledge of the problem and its relevance for adaptation planning).

These efforts at the landscape level are happening while important social changes are occurring in Chile due to the on-going establishment of the new Government including an analysis of the social, environmental and economic impacts of the current water regulation policy as a first step for a reform towards decentralization and engagement of local economic and social sectors. This on-going social change is of special relevance to our adaptation planning phase. For example, EcoAdapt partners in Chile were invited to a meeting in the Office of the Regional Head of Social Development Ministry in Temuco to share EcoAdapt experience for mobilizing collective action on adaptation planning regarding water resources. In this meeting (where other participants included the National Representative of Indigenous Issues of the CONAF, the CONAF Technical Department of Landscape Planning, the NGO DAS and other social actors) we came to know that the National Government has started a debate on water resources establishing a National Delegate on Water with dependencies branched till the local level where, at least in Alto Malleco, these could be engaged with our process as its mandate is to identify critical problems and innovative solutions regarding access, availability and sustainability of water resources in the Country. In this respect, as confirmed during this meeting, the experience of EcoAdapt is highly valued for its innovative focus based on fostering and enhancing multi-stakeholders’ participation in water adaptation planning. These important contingencies open opportunities for our group of stakeholders to enagage organizations with formal authority in the adaptation planning process. For example, BMAAM takes part to a Regional forum on water resources and will engage with this local representative of water resources to promote the project approach and increase local capacities for an effective and efficient water adaptation planning.

Social dynamics in the adaptation planning process – Bolivia

In Bolivia the MF is much larger than in the other EcoAdapt MFs. EcoAdapt focused on the Zapoco watershed wich is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Concepcion. During the first two years of EcoAdapt FCBC (Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest) was able to conform a group of stakeholders (“grupo impulsor”) that desired to be part of a formally- established possibly as a watershed committee (this is also line with the mandate of a recent Law in Bolivia auspiciating the creation of watershed committee). In Argentina, the Model Forest institutional context is characterized by the politization of institutions and some level of distrust in bottom-up built collective action. More specific assessment of the social dynamics became clearer during the meetings held between May and June 2014 by Raffaele Vignola from CATIE and Julian Gonzalez (consultant with CATIE specialized in participatory planning) with each of the three sites of the Model Forests involved in EcoAdapt. The objective of this trip was to collaborate with the three local Model Forest partners in the design and implementation of the second round of meetings with local stakeholders. During the last planning meetings, we focused our work to concretize the SDM methodology with our partner using the results of the socio-ecological and socio-institutional analysis and from the previous SDM1 workshop held in November 2013. Using this information, and along with the work in Chile, we identified thematic axes based on fundamental objectives and concrete actions and responsibilities. We also identified sets of criteria to evaluate alternative actions to achieve fundamental objectives. The workshop with stakeholders held by FCBC with the panel members suggests that different social actors are summing to the process. The latest adaptation planning workshop in Concepcion (in July 2014) confirmed the interested participation of the core group of stakeholders (representing rural and urban areas) and the engagement of communities. During these meetings, the informed participation of core group members facilitated discussion on the strategic objectives and thematic actions foreseen in the adaptation plan. This also helped identify and discuss on potential winners and losers regarding actions such as increasing the protected areas of the watershed using hydrological priority classes. The informal authority of FCBC, the engagement of a local community leaders and the formal authority of the Municipality of Concepcion (as the other members of the Grupo Impulsor the Municipality has always been engaged in the Ecoadapt process) open the possibility to increase momentum and foster concrete adaptation action. In this respect, actors are mobilizing themselves to identify additional resources to implement th action identified.

As in Chile, important on-going social dynamics occurring at higher scales represent window of opportunity for EcoAdapt. More specifically, during a meeting with the Head of Climate Change for the Department of Santa Cruz we confirmed that the on-going experience of EcoAdapt in Zapoco constitutes a pilot and learning case for the larger Chiquitania Model Forest since the Gobernacion has established a strategic objective to conform multi-stakeholder platforms in all its municipalities and watersheds as a way to easy bottom-up planning and the design of solutions tailored to local landscape characteristics.

Social dynamics in the adaptation planning process – Argentina

The socio-institutional context in Argentina in which EcoAdapt is running this adaptation planning phase is characterized, as in the other MFs, by the history and relations among multiple stakeholders inside the platform of the Model Forest and with other organizations. In this case, The MF Jujuy has been able to maintain continuously this institutional space favoring the interchange of information and knowledge and in some cases promoting concrete initiatives to promote ecosystem-based and socially relevant development projects. It has so gained visibility and legitimacy in the landscape and promoted the adoption of the Ley de Diques and the creation of the Intendencia de Diques. However, the centralized and politicisized characteristics of key institutions for water planning at the landscape level limits participation of formal authority in the institutional space of the Model Forest posing some challenges to EcoAdapt goal of designing an adaptation plan at the landscape level. Concrete hints in this direction come from the discontinuous permanence of an individual in key positions that could enforce with authority the participation of his/her institution in such a process. In such a context, the social dynamics associated to the adaptation planning phase suggests that this process requires working on increasing legitimacy and informal authority of ABMJ at least in structuring and providing technical inputs to several parties engaged in the landscape debate on water planning. Indeed, former experiences of the ABMJ in promoting the Area de Perilagos with a protection status suggests that it has capacities to advocate and promote ecosystem-based strategies relevant for protection of water resources. EcoAdapt recent experience in adaptation planning activities in El Carmen of Jujuy illustrate the challenge faced due to this social dynamics and some hints on the way forward.

ABMJ ran two workshops at the beginning of May 2014 focused on water for the landscape economic activities of tourism (only 3 representants tourism operators around the lakes) and agriculture sector (more than forty participants from the Tobacco Chamber, smallholder agriculturalists, etc.). Several actions were identified along with their objectives in these key land use-based economic sectors in the landscape.

The joint sectoral workshop implemented in end of May attracted 7 participants. Acknowledging the social dynamics we faced, we adapted the methodology for this workshop focusing on the need of validating and detailing quick start actions that could be implemented immediately also to motivate engagement of other actors and substantiate informal authority and that have been identified in the previous sectoral workshops with the agriculture and tourism groups. In this workshop the participants committed to a follow-up meeting where the MFs with this group of motivated stakeholders would further detail the quick starts and begin implementation in the following months.

One of the quick start action was a awareness-raising campaign. We also foresee that the results of the economic, bio-physical and institutional evaluation of the adaptation actions identified during the two initial sectoral workshops can provide inputs into the landscape debate on water planning. Along with awareness-raising, social communication and sharing the results of the adaptation action evaluations we can contribute to raise awareness ripening the urgency to take collective actions and strengthen the capacity of MF to contribute to water adaptation planning in the territory. In the tourism sector the social dynamics suggest that although this sector in the landscape is highly dependent on the lake health and existence knowledge-sharing and awareness-raising are key to promote their engagement. In the agriculture sector, summing inputs to the debate on water adaptation planning in institutional spaces with formal authority as the Intendencia de Diques (manager of the Perilago Area) and the Irrigation District Coordinator will be key.

Lessons Learnt

One major challenge faced in EcoAdapt planning process is related to the question of authority of the MF (or more precisely of the scenario panel) to decide over a plan for water security and implement correspondent actions. In each MF the Scenario Panel has some level of representativeness of organization with authority however there are strong differences among them.

The MFs are multi-sectorial platforms with some representatives, among its members, of organizations and institutions that have formal authority to decide on design and implementation of many of these actions. However, these platforms function mainly as an information-exchange clearing-house mechanism of actions occuring in the territory and, at times, also serves to mediate conflicts or concert common actions. Given this reality, the project, methods and process adapt to the MFs’ contexts as NGOs working with multiple stakeholders, but with no formal authority and in some sites with limited informal authority.

The project adaptation planning phase will then contribute to strengthen the the MF platforms as an important space for discussion on actions and responbilities and for mobilizing resources for design and implementation of adaptation measures. In other words, the project focuses on the opportunity provided by these platforms to generate, share and disseminate knowledge on solutions for water adaptation planning and contribute to debates with organizations that have formal authority to reinforce action and planning compromises.

Suggested citation

Vignola, R., Gonzalez, J. and Morales, M. 2014. Deliverable N° 3.5 EcoAdapt project: Working paper on social dynamics during adaptation planning

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