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Safeguarding livelihoods and promoting resilience through National Adaptation Plans in Uruguay

This country case study on Uruguay is one in a series that describes the steps taken to formulate and implement National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
uruguay agriculture


This country case study* on Uruguay is one in a series that describes the steps taken to formulate and implement National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). The case studies focus on adaptation in agriculture, which includes forestry, livestock and fisheries. The series aims to provide national policy makers with valuable information from counterparts in Asia, Africa and Latin America who are on the same NAP journey to tackle the multiple challenges posed by climate change.

The case study series also shows the links between the country-led NAP processes and the NAP–Ag programme activities and resulting impacts. Given that the NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay has only been running since mid-2016, it is too early to assess the results, however lessons can be drawn from the suite of activities that are being developed at the national level. The preparation of this case study is based on interviews with the UNDP–FAO NAP–Ag country coordinator, UNDP and FAO staff, representatives from national Ministries (e.g. Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and the Environment; Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries), as well as extensive review of country reports and publications.

*Download the full case study from the right-hand column.

Key findings

The agricultural sector is a mainstay of the Uruguayan economy, contributing 70 percent of exports and seven percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

  • The sector has experienced a period of rapid growth, intensification and modernization over the last decade.

Agricultural production remains vulnerable to climate change and climate variability, with extreme events such as floods and droughts becoming more intense.

  • Projections indicate that there will be an increase in the duration of heat waves and a significant increase in the intensity of the precipitation this century.

Uruguay has developed an advanced suite of climate change policies, strategies and plans. The country has committed to ambitious and quantified sectoral mitigation targets to be achieved by 2030.

  • In 2016 the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP) began the process of developing a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) specifically for the agricultural sector (Agriculture NAP). The formulation ofthe NAP will be finalised in 2018.
  • This planning process builds on over a decade of national studies, awareness and consensus on the importance of climate change adaptation and the 2009 National System for Response to Climate Change and Variability (SNRCC).
  • The Agriculture NAP will seek to clarify questions around which livestock, agriculture, forestry and fishery activities need to adapt, in which parts of the country, and how producers can effectively reduce their vulnerability and build their resilience to future climate uncertainties.
Status of the Agriculture NAP Formulation and Implementation in Relation to the UNFCCC NAP Technical Guidelines (table 4, page 11 of the report).

This push to adapt the agriculture sector will contribute to Uruguay’s economic and sustainability goals, as well as the National Policy on Climate Change (2017) and the countries National Determined Contribution (NDC) commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The UNDP–FAO NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay is working with the Sustainability and Climate Change Unit of the MGAP, and in close coordination with other ministries and government bodies, to support the formulation of the Agriculture NAP.

Since mid-2016, the NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay has supported three assessments to review climate change impacts and adaptation options; map stakeholders to be involved in the Agriculture NAP process; and identify capacity needs within the government and amongst agricultural producers.

The NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay is now working with the MGAP on:

  • cost benefit analysis of adaptation alternatives;
  • impact assessment of adaptation policies;
  • consultations with dairy, family farming, forestry, irrigated rice, fisheries, fruit and vegetable, agriculture and livestock producers;
  • development of indicators to track and monitor adaptation;
  • and strengthening inclusion of gender dimensions within the Agriculture NAP.

Lessons Learnt

Agriculture Sector Consultation:Working with each agricultural sector (e.g. dairy, family farming, forestry, rice, fisheries, agriculture, livestock) through the Adaptation Dialogues, recognizes the diversity of agricultural systems and ensures that issues, priorities, concerns and adaptation technologies are relevant and specific for producers.

  • Working closely with producer associations is important to ensure member participation and to build long-term support and validation of the Agricultural NAP process.
  • The Agriculture NAP will therefore have the necessary buy-in that will be essential for implementation and to focus extension, technical assistance and technology transfer appropriately.

Embedded Within Government:The NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay team is based in the Unit for Sustainability and Climate Change of the Office of Agricultural Programing and Policy of the MGAP, which makes it easier to develop close relationships with the government economists, policy analysts and technical staff.

  • Information generated by the NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay is easily and directly shared and discussed with MGAP.

Evidence-Based Policies:The NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay emphasises the importance of evaluating and comparing alternative adaptation measures and the effectiveness of policies based on solid evidence.

  • Developing and providing training in impact evaluation and cost-benefit analysis to generate this evidence-base will ensure that the Agricultural NAP is well founded, receives greater support and is more likely to be integrated into national planning and budgeting.

Collaborating With Specialists:The MGAP, with the support of the NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay, is establishing agreements and partnerships to draw on the expertise of specialist organisation.

  • Agreements have been signed with the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability (SARAS2) to develop adaptation indicators and cost benefit analysis, and an agreement is being discussed with the University of the Republic to support capacity-building work.

Implementation and Adaptation Finance:Even with best ideas, knowledge and plans in place, there is a need for both national and international finance to turn paper into practice.

  • The Uruguay NDC states that external funds will be essential to meet mitigation and adaptation goals and the majority of MGAP climate change programmes to date have been financed through external loans, funds and projects.
  • The NAP–Ag programme in Uruguay and the Agriculture NAP process will identify medium- to long-term adaptation needs and strategies and programmes to address them, whilst providing the platform from which to budget for and attract sustainable sources of national and international finance for adaptation.
© Communications, MGAP.

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