Story | 08 Jul, 2010


Enhancing capacities and coordination to cope with climate change effects

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Photo: Robert Hofstede

The Challenge

The paramos form a neotropical high altitude ecoregion distributed mainly along the Andean mountain range in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Paramos extend between the upper tree-line and the perennial snow-border (3200 to 5000 metres above sea level) representing a type of island archipelago. They have an estimated area of 35,770 square kilometres.

The paramos play a fundamental role in sustaining the lives of millions of people, providing essential ecosystem services such as water production for urban use, irrigation and hydropower generation. Paramos soils and vegetation provide efficient forms of carbon storage and sequestration.

More than 40% of the paramos are included in protected areas. However, some economic activities – such as afforestation, agricultural expansion, grazing, mining, inadequate water management and urban encroachment – pose severe risks to their longevity. Moreover, climate change is likely to cause further impacts in the paramos functioning, distribution and species composition. These in turn might jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of human populations that depend upon this ecosystem.

The II World Congress of Paramos (Ecuador, 2009) urged the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in the paramos. Until now, the topic has been addressed from scientific, political and economic viewpoints, with limited local involvement.

The challenge is to enhance resilience of natural and human systems to the effects of climate change through an integrated strategy that:

  • Increases protection and sustainable use of paramos ecosystems;
  • Improves coordination of adaptation and mitigation actions at local, national and regional levels; 
  • Facilitates integration of local communities’ experience and knowledge into high level decision making;
  • Integrates inter-sectoral approaches into sustainable management;
  • Enhances capacities of local stake-holders and decision makers. It is hoped that these actions will also contribute to the improvement of human well-being.