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Alliances for Ecosystem-based Climate Adaptation in Guatemala

This article describes how an ecosystem-based adaptation platform in Guatemala is creating enabling governance conditions for effective climate adaptation, and supporting alliances to help upscale ecosystem-based adaptation.
First National EbA Forum in Guatemala. Panelists discussing options to upscale Ecosystem-based Adaptation in the country.
Building alliances for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in Guatemala


Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is globally recognised as an effective response to climate change. Studies further underline that, as a nature-based solution, EbA can provide almost 40% of the climate mitigation needed until 2030, with a multitude of other co-benefits. Harnessing the full potential of nature to address the climate crisis is not only feasible, but vital.

The continuous degradation of ecosystems undermines the achievement of global targets related to sustainability, biodiversity and climate. Despite the multiple co-benefits that EbA can generate, the persistent gap in funding poses a major challenge to effective implementation at large scale. Delving into the underlying reasons for this continuing lack of traction reveals a fundamental “divide” that inhibits greater acceptance of the EbA concept. While environmentalists increasingly push for EbA, including as part of the Covid-19 recovery packages, actors outside of the broader “nature” community are yet to embrace ecosystem-approaches into their day-to-day business.

A first step towards seizing the full potential of EbA, therefore, is to build broader alliances among actors involved in fostering sustainable development. The open conversation about how to achieve inclusive and sustainable development is a prerequisite for initiating ways to implement EbA more broadly.

The following article presents how alliances among actors are built in Guatemala for EbA.This short film above shows the importance of building alliances for EbA in order to upscale nature based solutions more broadly.

*Download the full publication from the right-hand column.The key messages from the publication are provided below. See the full text for much more detail.

Breaking the silos: How Guatemala is building alliances for EbA

Guatemala is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Through a newly formed multi-stakeholder group — gathering diverse segments of the population — the country is creating the required enabling environment for a systemic response to climate adaptation and mitigation. An important aspect in this is demonstrating practical entry points for different sectors of society, which jointly can help tackle the underlying structural barriers that have limited the impact of climate actions adopted so far. Commonly observed structural barriers include socio-economic inequalities, rural poverty, and excessive natural resource extraction.

Established in 2019, the EbA technical group (GTAbE) is a multi-stakeholder national platform implemented under the auspices of the Climate-SDG Integration Project (implemented by TMG Research, WWF Mesoamérica, and ADIMI). With more than 30 members, the EbA technical group transcends institutional silos. With the joint objective of scaling up EbA approaches, the lead ministries responsible for coordinating implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meet regularly with representatives from civil society, the private sector, NGOs, academia, and international development cooperation. In May 2019, the GTAbE began to develop a roadmap – a plan to establish priority actions – in order to create an enabling environment for scaling EbA across sectors and institutions (see below).

The EbA technical group is embedded within the overarching National System for Climate Change Sciences (SGCCC), which enables the platform to advise core ministries about EbA, and to foster inter-institutional learning and collaboration. The EbA technical group is not only unique in its energetic, collaborative, and transparent way of working, but also in its capacity to catalyse multi-sectoral expertise. Many institutions have recognised the EbA technical group as a “go-to” platform for matters of adaptation. While EbA has not featured prominently in Guatemala´s policy agenda, key government bodies are now including ecosystem-based approaches in their planning. As noted by Keila Gramajo, Director of Public Management and Development at the National Planning Secretariat, during the First National EbA Forum (2019): “….Giving value to ecosystems is one of the ten national development priorities.” (Building Alliances for EbA).

The way forward

The EbA technical grouphas shown that strategic alliances and inter-institutional learning can leverage governance conditions to mainstream inclusive approaches such as EbA. The development of a roadmap for upscaling EbA, under the leadership of the EbA technical group, has paved the way for scaling EbA in Guatemala. The roadmap is the result of more than a year of interaction, joint reflection, and multi-sector commitments to harness the power of nature for the country’s development and resilience. It will be important to ensure continuous social and political support in order to make EbA work for the country and translate the roadmap into effective action.

The work of the EbA technical group, including the development of a roadmap, marks the beginning of a long-term process to build an enabling environment for upscaling EbA in Guatemala. Through this process, Guatemala can play a leading role in the global Nature-based Solutions and EbA movements.

Suggested citation

El Fassi M. et al (2020) People-Nature Alliances: Enabling Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Guatemala. Info Brief. International Climate Initiative.

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