[Talk on climate] Climate Scenarios and challenges for Adaptation to climate change in Latin America: IPCC 6th Assessment Report

This segment presented the scenarios and challenges posed by climate change for decision-making in the region, with a focus on increasing the resilience of the people living in the Andes.

The Resilient Andes Conference (3-5 October) had a session for discussing the Sixth IPCC Report (special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas emissions in ecosystems). It focused on the region of Latin America, and four of the 330 authors of the report were in charge of it. The following are the highlights of the climate talk.

Rupa Mukerji, co-author of the report and head of the Advisory Services Department of Helvetas Switzerland
©Andes Resilient project

Rupa Mukerji, co-author of the report and head of the Advisory Services Department of Helvetas Switzerland, stated that the risks of climate change will intensify over time and that “We are reaching the limits of adaptation to climate change. We still have a window of eight years to avoid a very critical scenario by 2030. She stressed that to achieve this each sector must find ways to reduce carbon emissions, taking the gender approach into account when analysing climate impacts.

Liliana Raquel Miranda, director of the Sustainable Cities Forum and also co-author of the Sixth IPCC Report
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Liliana Raquel Miranda, director of the Sustainable Cities Forum and also co-author of the Sixth IPCC Report, pointed out that rethinking governance to achieve climate resilience is a priority. To achieve Climate Resilient Development, we must focus on reducing exposure and vulnerability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving biodiversity. This resilience would already be a challenge at a warming level lower than 1.5°C and capped by 2°C. However, in some regions it will be impossible to manage the impacts if the temperature exceeds 2°C, including coastal cities, squatters’ settlements and mountainous areas. “The possible impacts include droughts, sea-level rise, temperature increase, coastal erosion and deglaciation which, with vulnerability, poverty rates and land use changes, lead to a very complex scenario,” she concluded.

Chirstian Huggel (Zurich University) and Débora Ley (ECLAC)
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Christian Huggel is on the IPCC panel of experts and in Working Group II which developed the latest report entitled “Impact, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. He is a glaciologist and a professor at the University of Zurich. He emphasised the troubling panorama that the world and specifically the Latin American region are facing in the climate crisis, and the serious and far-reaching impacts that mountains and the people who live in their surroundings will suffer, highlighting the water crisis that will occur by 2050, due to glacial retreat.   He pointed out that climate change puts mountains at serious risk, by causing landslides and floods leading to loss of life; negative impacts on the living conditions of mountain communities, and on their livelihoods and their access to water. “The wellbeing of people and mountain ecosystems are at serious risk, and action is urgently needed to avoid irreversible damage. The next few years are key to achieving a sustainable and resilient future,” he said.

The session was closed by Débora Ley, the Economic Affairs Officer of the Energy and Natural Resources Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Mexico and co-author of the Sixth Report. She stated that in this decade we must change the way we work on, mitigate and adapt to the climate change produced by global warming, which is what experts call “seeking climate-resilient development paths”. “We must integrate mitigation and adaptation action in support of sustainable development,” she said

The SDC’s action in the Andes

Like other mountain systems, the Andes are facing particularly severe impacts of climate change, which especially affect the vulnerable groups in society and threaten their livelihoods.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is one of the pioneers in development and climate change work. Its early projects in the region, like the PACC Peru, initially focused on local-level adaptation, but subsequently went on to be increasingly involved in the political sphere. To date, the regional Resilient Andes project places much more emphasis on working with central government agencies and policy dialogue in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, promoting systemic change by strengthening the capacities of state and private stakeholders for providing services to vulnerable rural communities in the Andes that enable them to strengthen their resilience and adaptive capacities. The Andean countries have similar biophysical characteristics and face similar climate change threats, and they can therefore learn from each other’s experience and unite in collective adaptation actions, with a comprehensive and regional approach.

In the last 40 years, Peru’s glaciers have lost more than 40 per cent of their surface area, drastically reducing the availability of fresh water, not only in the Andean region, but also on the Pacific coast. Farming families in the Andes are facing lower rainfall, irregular rainy seasons and more frequent and severe extreme weather events, such as droughts and ground frosts, that damage their crops and threaten their food and water security.

“For the vast majority of farming families in the Andes, adapting their agricultural systems to the changing climate is the only option for coping with the challenges posed by climate change. Adaptation is thus the most obvious interface between development and climate change, and extremely important for poverty reduction,” says Kaspar Schmidt, director of Helvetas Peru.

Climate Scenarios and challenges for Adaptation to climate change in Latin America: IPCC 6th Assessment Report
©Andes Resilient project

For further information:
Brochure Andes Resilient to Climate Change Regional Project (esp)
FS Andes Resilient to Climate Change Regional Project (esp)
Facebook Andes Resilient to Climate Change
Infographic Resilient Andes Cooperation Action in Peru (esp)
Infographic Resilient Andes Cooperation Action in Bolivia (esp)
Infographic Resilient Andes Cooperation Action in Ecuador (esp)

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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.