IUCN and the Department of Freshwater and Wetlands Conservation (DFWC) of the Ministry of Environment, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust organised a consultation workshop for the development of a climate change adaptation advisory report for Koh Kapik Ramsar site (KKRS), from 12 to 14 August in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia.
More than 32 local stakeholders attended the workshop including representatives from government agencies, NGOs and local communities. This workshop is one of the key activities under the Mekong WET: Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region project, which aims to build climate change resilience by harnessing the benefits of wetlands in the Indo Burma region.
“While wetland resources are free for everyone, these resources should be used in a sustainable way. Furthermore, it is important to understand how climate change might affect wetlands and the services they provide. The impacts of climate change on rice farming and fisheries are already visible, however, we can enhance the resilience of wetlands if we improve our management strategies,” said Mr. Ou Serey, Deputy General Director, General Directorate of Administration for Natural Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment in his opening statement.
The workshop kicked off with a presentation of the results from the recently completed Koh Kapik Ramsar site climate change vulnerability assessment. The reports revealed the perceived climate-related threats to wetland ecosystems and livelihoods.
The presentation was followed by a review to assess the effectiveness of the draft KKRS management plan, which was analysed using the Ramsar Site Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (R-METT). R-METT is officially recognised by the Ramsar Convention as a guiding approach to measure and track the management effectiveness of Ramsar sites and wetlands in general. To strengthen the existing KKRS management plan, the workshop included recommendations from the climate change vulnerability assessment. This included adaptation measures focusing on resilience building.
“Identified weaknesses need to be considered in the adaptation planning because these might create limitations to effective adaptation measures. As an example, while creating protection zones for highly vulnerable wetland resources can be an effective coping strategy, it requires patrolling capacity, which might not be existing in government agencies with jurisdiction over these sites. Adaptation measures need to identify these limitations. “, said Andrew Wyatt, IUCN Deputy Head of Indo-Burma Group.
At the workshop, stakeholders developed a joint vision for the wetland reflecting social, economic and environmental objectives for its sustainable use. They came up with the following vision statement: “In the next 20 to 50 years, KKRS is a wetland where the ecosystem is healthy, rich in biodiversity and provides livelihoods for all generations to adapt to climate change.”
The participants also discussed various ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) options and management recommendations identified during the vulnerability assessment. Based on this, participants suggested viable strategies to strengthen wetland climate change resilience. Twenty-one adaptation measures were identified based on the five coping strategies/management recommendations emerging from the vulnerability assessment: 1) Demarcation and zoning, 2) Awareness raising, 3) Livelihoods improvement, 4) Community involvement in protection and 5) Governance and management structure.
Community representatives ranked the strategies and identified the top three coping strategies: (1) Livelihood improvements, (2) Community involvement in protection and (3) Governance and management structure.
Over the next year, two more consultation workshops with local stakeholders will take place in KKRS, with the aim of, identifying priority measures to be funded by the Mekong WET project.
Funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and to be implemented until 2020, the “Mekong WET: Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region” project aims to build climate resilience by harnessing the benefits of wetlands in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Mekong WET will help these countries to address their commitments to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, and to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The project is also supporting the IBRRI and the implementation of the IBRRI strategic plan 2019-2024.