Human wellbeing and livelihoods cannot be sustained without healthy ecosystems. Mountain ecosystems are particularly important, in that they maintain rich ecological processes and provide essential goods and services, especially water, not only to mountain people, but also to downstream lowlands where demand from population centers, agriculture and industry is high. These ecosystems, however, face severe threats from unsustainable land use practices (overgrazing and non-conservation agriculture), illegal wood extraction, development of large-scale infrastructure (dams, roads) and unsustainable natural resource projects (hydrocarbons, mining).
Climate change further compounds these threats by increasing levels of exposure to droughts, floods (which in turn results in an increase in landslides) and changes in seasonality. These impacts both undermine the resilience of the mountain ecosystems and increase the vulnerability of the local mountain communities, whose livelihoods and wellbeing depend on their services. Mountain people tend to be among the world’s poorest and most marginalized populations. Not only do many share the disadvantages of rural poverty and ethnic or religious discrimination. They also face additional challenges to subsistence brought about by elevation, rough topography and severe climate.
Through the global Ecosystems-based Adaptation (EBA) in Mountains Programme, UNDP, UNEP and IUCN, with funding from the German Government, used sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy, to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of select fragile mountain ecosystems and their local communities to climate change impacts.
Photos provided by: UNDP Peru, Carlos Diaz Huertas and Adriana Kato, UNDP Nepal, Tine Rossing, Andrea Egan, UNDP Uganda, Ed Barrows and James Leslie.
The Ecosystems-based Adaptation (EbA) in Mountains Programme is a global partnership jointly implemented by UNDP, UNEP and IUCN from 2011-2015, with funding from the Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). While global in scope, Uganda, Nepal and Peru were selected as pilot countries, due to their significant vulnerability to climate change, coupled with their endowment of fragile mountain ecosystems upon which a multitude of communities and economic activities depend.
The overarching Programme goal is to strengthen capacities of the involved governments and local communities to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to the effects of climate change using EbA measures in targeted mountain ecosystems.
Expected programme results include:
- New and field tested methodologies and decision-making tools for EbA, including Vulnerability & Impact Assessments;
- Monitoring and Evaluation centered on ecosystem resilience; and
- Capacities and knowledge of all involved stakeholders (national, district and local level government, local communities and civil society organizations) will be enhanced for planning and implementing both early action “No Regrets” and longer-term EbA measures through pilot activities in target mountain ecosystems.
Based on evidence emerging from these processes, lessons will also be generated on how to use cost-benefit analyses to make an economic case for specific EbA measures. In close collaboration with key governments agencies, evidence and lessons will be generated on how to mainstream EbA into broader district and national policy and financing frameworks. These lessons can be scaled-up and shared as policy examples at regional and global levels beyond the three pilot countries. Overall, the resilience to climate change of targeted mountain ecosystems and their local custodians will be enhanced.
Key results and outputs
Outcome 1: Methodologies and tools for EbA decision making developed. The application of appropriate scientific methodologies and tools to assist decision makers on the effectiveness of the interventions is a critical ingredient of successful EbA approaches. In each pilot country, this outcome will finance a process that will assess, evaluate and develop appropriate methodologies for use in informing project adaptation actions. Additional results that will be generated include development of project baselines as well as comprehensive monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to monitor programme impacts. Indicators will be developed to specifically measure impacts related to ecosystem functioning and adaptive capacity.
Outcome 2: EbA methodologies and tools applied at ecosystem level. This outcome will finance the development of a capacity building approach that, in turn, will be used to apply the methodologies and tools developed under Outcome 1. In order to ensure sustainability in the use of the tools as well as ensuring that results from the programme are integrated in national processes, relevant stakeholders who were to be involved in the programme will be trained in the use and application of the tools.
Outcome 3: EbA pilot projects implemented in each pilot country and contributing towards ecosystem resilience and reduction of livelihood vulnerability in the face of climate change impacts. A number of EbA activities will be identified and selected for implementation based on the outputs of outcomes 1 and 2. In addition, 1) institutional roles and responsibilities for EbA will be agreed to by different stakeholders at all levels; 2) Institutional capacity of local governments and other key national institutions to plan, monitor and enforce EbA will be enhanced; 3) pilot projects focusing on water resources management and enhancement of soil conservation measures will be implemented; 4) market opportunities and access will be enhanced; and 5) lessons learned from pilot projects will be captured and disseminated.
Outcome 4: Business case for EbA at the local and national levels developed. To make an economic case for EbA, the project will identify and apply the best methods and practice for socio-economic evaluation of adaptation options. This will provide an economic justification for support from relevant government institutions for the use of EbA as a climate risk management strategy. To this end, i) an enabling environment for scaling-up EbA at national level will be created; and ii) information and capacities of key government stakeholders will be enhanced so as to integrate EBA into national development planning processes and climate change policies and strategies.
Outcome 5:New learning and knowledge on EbA generated. In early 2014, the scope of the Programme was expanded to include a new Learning and Knowledge Component. These new activities will strengthen learning about EbA at various levels namely 1) site level – i.e. the three pilot sites in Nor Yauyos-Cochas, Mount Elgon and Panchase – 2) country level (Peru, Uganda and Nepal), and 3) beyond (inter-country, regional and global levels). Systematization of generated information and learning wil be used by partners to generate new science, insights and messages that can influence policy and practice on EBA in mountain ecosystems and beyond. The application of methodologies and tools, combined with implementation of pilot activities, will enable the Programme to shorten the learning curve for local and national institutions, and fast-track the transfer of knowledge and experience in building ecosystem and social resilience to climate change.