Adaptation to Climate Change through Effective Water Governance in Ecuador


Ecuador is well known for its beautiful and rugged topography and has an extreme diversity of climates that range from high altitude glaciers to tropical rain forests in the Amazon and dry tropical forest on the Pacific Coast. Some of these areas show a greater sensitivity to climate change, or will undergo rapid changes as a result of climate change. Water is a defining factor in this process. In Ecuador melting glaciers and irregular rainfall have already begun affecting available power, agricultural production and drinking-water supplies.

Addressing these problems, the "Adapting to Climate Change through Effective Water Governance in Ecuador" project aims to increase the adaptive capacities of water resource management in the agriculture and the energy sector through sound water governance arrangements, information management and flexible financial mechanisms to promote local innovation towards sustainable water management. The project’s overall goal is to reduce Ecuador’s vulnerability to climate change and increase resilience through improved access to timely and accurate climate data. The project will mainstream climate change adaptation into water management practices in Ecuador through the integration of climate change risk of the water sector into key national and local development plans, the implementation of adaptation measures, and information management and knowledge brokering.

Project details

Given its geographical location and rugged topography, Ecuador is a highly vulnerable country to impacts of climate change (UNFCCC First National Communication, Quito, 2000). Periodic El Niño events, particularly those of 1982-83 and 1997-98, have demonstrated the catastrophic effects of climate variability in the country. This high degree of exposure, combined with the vulnerability of key economic sectors such as agriculture, health, energy, water resources, coastal resources, fisheries, infrastructure and tourism, reinforces the notion that Ecuador is a country particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Characterized by extreme diversity of climate zones, Ecuador boasts an extraordinary array of geographical systems that range from high altitude glaciers to tropical rain forests in the Amazon upper tributaries to dry tropical forest on the Pacific Coast, as well as an insular outpost in the Pacific with the Galapagos Islands, a World Heritage Site. Some of these systems show a greater sensitivity to climate change, or at least are considered most likely to undergo rapid changes as a result of climate change, including variability. As highlighted in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Summary Report, such ecosystems provide a range of environmental services that are critical to rural livelihoods and urban welfare. As these systems deteriorate due to various direct and indirect factors, including climate change, the quality of environmental goods and services also decreases.

The UNDP country programme (CPO/CPD) in Ecuador (2004-2008) supports the new government’s efforts to reinforce citizen participation and democratic dialogue, combat corruption, reduce poverty and exclusion, and reactivate the economy to create jobs and wealth, as well as improve the environmental security. The natural endowment of Ecuador is summarized in an important natural resource base, an extremely diverse environment, rich and diversified culture and traditions, favourable climatic conditions and a potential access to world markets. This contrasts with the cycle of exclusion and inequality, forcing a majority of Ecuadorians into poverty. UNDP is assisting Ecuador combat poverty by strengthening social protection networks and technical and other resource support for expanding livelihood opportunities

Given high vulnerability to natural disasters, Ecuador needs to implement anticipatory measures  in order to avoid recurrent costly climate induced hazards. Populations with limited resources are the most vulnerable to natural phenomena in terms of exposure to the risk of losing assets. The impact on infrastructure is another serious concern. By working with government institutions at the local and central levels, it is possible to contribute to the implementation of a range of risk reduction measures. UNDP will work closely with international financial institutions as well as with other United Nations Agencies and national authorities to support both the prevention and responses to natural disasters. The United Nations system contingency plan and the United Nations Emergency Team for Ecuador represent an invaluable asset to be utilized in this regard.

The country programme of UN agencies in Ecuador is articulated around three UNDAF objectives: (i) poverty reduction through improved access to basic social services and employment; (ii) democratic governance and transparency through strengthening of government institutions and decentralization process; and (iii) sustainable environment through equitable access to natural resources. The proposed project, which aims to address climate change risks confronting the water sector, will contribute directly to outcomes under two of these objectives: UNDAF objective 1: poverty reduction through access to quality basic social services and productive activities:

  • Public awareness and policy dialogue on sustainable human development. This project willcontribute through promoting awareness on climate change risks on water resources and therefore on livelihood opportunities. It will contribute to the policy dialogue on sustainable human development by focusing on climate change issues relevant to human development.
  • Capacity of and partnership between local authorities and civil society organizations. This project will contribute by focusing on developing partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society to manage climate change risks.
  • Access to basic social services and systems for risk management. The project will contribute through establishing information systems that can support climate change risk management strategies.
  • Capacity development to manage and reduce risk of natural disasters. This project will contribute by focusing on capacity development of key stakeholders to manage climate change risks. UNDAF objective 2: environmentally sustainable development to reduce poverty
  • National policy, legal and regulatory framework for environmentally sustainable development. The project’s focus on policy instruments to manage climate change risks will promote environmentally sustainable development.
  • Institutional framework for sustainable environmental management and energy development. The development of institutional structures to better manage climate change risks will be animportant contribution to sustainable environmental management.

This project aims to address climate change risks in the water sector. The project will mainstream climate change adaptation into water management practices in Ecuador through the integration of climate change risk of the water sector into key national and local development plans, the implementation of adaptation measures, and information management and knowledge sharing.

The project is designed to address a range of considerations that are a priority for improved management of climate risks. For one, the project will integrate climate change concerns into planning and policy formulation processes for water resources, including day-to-day practices of planners and other stakeholders (i.e. a “top-down” approach). The project will also train local and regional water resources managers in government agencies, grassroots organizations and NGOs on innovative approaches to mainstream climate change adaptation to water management practices (i.e. a “bottom-up” approach).

The project focuses on interventions at the national and local levels. At the national level, the project will improve water governance by incorporating climate risks consideration into water management and decision making processes. At the local level, interventions will be in specific provinces that have been identified based on climate change vulnerability assessments and stakeholder consultations. These provinces which host key watersheds have shown a political willingness to implement adaptation measures to climate change to improve the governance and management of water resources in the face of climate change with the participation of provincial authorities and local communities. The provinces where pilot measures will be implemented include Los Rios, Manabi, Loja and Azuay

Source: UNDP SCCF Ecuador Project Document 

Thematic areas: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Rural Ecuadorians facing potential water shortages resulting from climate change and from diminishing supplies due to weak infrastructure.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Government of Ecuador
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
3,000,000 (as of June 30, 2009)
Co-financing total: 
16,080,000 (as of June 30, 2009)

Key results and outputs

  • Outcome 1: Climate change risk on the water sector integrated into key relevant plans and programs
    • Output 1.1: Practical guidance on the integration of climate risks into relevant water management plans and programmes developed
    • Output 1.2: Relevant plans and programmes incorporate climate risks in the water sector
  • Outcome 2: Strategies and measures that will facilitate adaptation to climate change impacts on water resources implemented at the local level
    • Output 2.1: Measures, technologies and practices to improve the adaptive capacity of water resources management introduced and implemented in pilot systems.
    • Output 2.2: Information management systems reflecting climate change impacts on the water sector developed
  • Outcome 3: Institutional and human capacity strengthened, and information/lessons learned disseminated
  • Output 3.1: Improved institutional and technical capacities to support the mainstreaming of climate risks and implementation of adaptation measures in the water sector
  • Output 3.2: Knowledge and lessons learned to support implementation of adaptation measures compiled and disseminated
  • Output 3.3: Guidance documents for GEF and MoE on climate change adaptation programming in the water resource sector provided

Source: UNDP SCCF Ecuador Project Document 


Monitoring and evaluation

Project Start:

Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits: UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project's term.  

End of Project:  

Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.

Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project's results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 

The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.

Establish a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 

Source: UNDP SCCF Ecuador Project Document 


Reis Lopez Rello
Regional Technical Advisor
Gabriel Jaramillo
Country Officer
Ernesto Martínez
Project Coordinator