Building Capacity in two vulnerable areas of the Colombian coastal area
The first phase of the Netherlands Climate Change Studies Assistant Programme (NCCSAP) that assessed the vulnerability of the Colombian coastal areas to potential SLR identified serious constraints for developing adaptation strategies in this country. The following summarizes these key constraints. Firstly, legislative, institutional and organizational structures are highly vulnerable due to the lack of a normative framework that includes coastal zone management. Secondly, the economic feasibility of developing adaptation strategies is critically low, because the country is not prepared to assume the financial costs of implementing adaptation measures to SLR. Thirdly, the technical feasibility is also low due to the lack of technical capacity among institutions and scientific uncertainties on the subject. Fourthly, cultural and social vulnerability is high, because of the low quality of life conditions along Colombian coastal zones. Lastly, violent conflict that currently affects a large portion of the country negatively influences most of the development activities in the country (INVEMAR, 2003).
The second phase of the Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP) was developed to identify adaptation strategies that could be successfully implemented in Colombia and build adaptation capacity considering the conditions and constraints described above. The approach of the second phase, however, varies in that it analyzes the situation from a local-level perspective. The second phase focuses on assessing the vulnerability and identifying adaptation measures to contribute towards the local adaptive capacity of two vulnerable areas of the Colombian coast: Cartagena de Indias (Caribbean coast) and San Andres de Tumaco (Pacific coast).
The text below briefly presents the factors that need to be considered in order to build local adaptive capacity.
Contributing towards creating adaptive capacity at the local level
To identify adaptation strategies and contribute towards creating adaptive capacity at the local level, it is necessary to understand the local context including the state of the natural systems, the population needs and living conditions, the productive systems, the socio-cultural organizations, the institutional capacity and the local management and development strategies. Although climate change effects such as SLR, can have large impacts at the local level, there is a general lack of awareness among local decision-makers and community members about these potential impacts and consequently about how to prevent them. Therefore, creating adaptive capacity at the local level requires the participation and involvement of local stakeholders including decision-makers, companies and community members. It is also important to increase the level of knowledge concerning the vulnerability of the local territory and the potential impacts of climate change effects so that stakeholders can use this information to take the necessary decisions and actions to prevent impacts and reduce risks.
Objectives of the project
The second phase of the NCAP follows the guidelines of the National Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Policy which uses an integrated approach to generate effective adaptation strategies to implement at the local and national level (Alonso-Carvajal et al., 2003). The objective of this study is to evaluate the vulnerability of key economic sectors to climate change effects in the Colombian coastal area and to identify strategies to build capacity to cope with potential SLR-related impacts. To do so, the study adopts a local-level approach and focuses on two vulnerable areas of the Colombian coast identified in the first phase of the NCAP project as critical areas with the highest capital value at risk due to potential SLR. The study first conducts a sectoral vulnerability assessment in each area (considering tourism, agriculture and fisheries), with special focus on the population living in poverty conditions. It then identifies suitable adaptation measures and strategies within the framework of the National ICZM Policy. The project also generates public awareness and builds adaptive capacity through meetings and workshops with the different stakeholders. The results of the study are expected to set demonstrative pilot actions to prepare the country for the development of a National Policy on Climate Change Adaptation.
- To evaluate the vulnerability of key economic sectors to climate change effects in the Colombian coastal area and to identify strategies to build capacity to cope with potential SLR-related impacts.
- To assess the sectoral vulnerability of two selected coastal areas, with special focus on the population living in poverty conditions.
- To identify and analyze possible adaptation measures and strategies within the ICZM Policy framework.
- To generate public awareness and build adaptive capacity through meetings and workshops with the different stakeholders.
This project was carried out under the Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP)] which was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ETC International managed the overall NCAP project. Francisco Arias managed the Colombia project of the NCAP.