Green Climate Fund approves project for adaptation to climate change in Guatemala Highlands

Guatemala highland communities will directly benefit through actions to reduce the impacts of climate change in strategic basins for water recharge and through better land use practices, accompanied by technical and culturally-relevant climate information for improved decision making.

Las acciones contribuirán a mejorar la recarga y producción de agua con la participación de mujeres y hombres de las comunidades

Manama, Bahrain, 19 October 2018 (IUCN)The Green Climate Fund (GCF) approves US$22 million for the project, “Building livelihood resilience to climate change in the upper basins of Guatemala’s highlands.” The effort is led by Guatemala’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with the National Forest Institute and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and implemented by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, as GCF-accredited entity.

At the 21st meeting of the GCF Board, organised by the Kingdom of Bahrain in Manama, 17 to 20 October, the Board approved new funding proposals presented by accredited entities, aimed at lowering emissions and developing resilience to climate change.

The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Alfonso Alonzo Vargas, underscored that “From the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, we applaud the decision by the Board of the Green Climate Fund to approve this project, which will make it possible to improve the adaptation capacities of communities in one of the areas most vulnerable to climate change in the country. Working together with highland municipalities and communities, we will provide comprehensive solutions for recharge in key watersheds, for both the communities upstream and the cities downstream. This project also constitutes the firm commitment of the Government of Guatemala to achieve the commitments of the Paris Agreement for a sustainable and resilient future, and to move forward in implementing the National Plan on Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change.”  

According to Dr Grethel Aguilar, Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, the project was approved thanks to a joint effort driven by Guatemala’s environmental ministry and National Forest Institute, which provides US$ 5 million in match funds, and the support of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).  Said Dr Aguilar, “IUCN, as executing agency accredited by the Green Climate Fund, is grateful to Guatemala for its trust in this initiative, which today, after much collaborative effort, is now bearing fruit. This new project will directly benefit a vast population that will be able to face the challenges of climate change in a better way with healthy ecosystems. We’re ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the government and communities, pursuing goals of wellbeing for the most vulnerable populations.”

The GCF is a global platform created to support developing countries’ efforts to address the challenges, helping them limit or reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

New project benefits the highland population

The project’s primary objective is to reduce the impacts of climate change on the hydrologic cycle in selected watersheds by scaling up actions of ecosystem-based adaptation. This will help improve water recharge and production, as well as contribute to the resilience of populations and ecosystems to climate change.

The project will cover 146,500 ha in total, with 22,500 ha targeted for direct restoration. Actions include agroforestry with annual cropping, silvopastoral and agroforestry systems with permanent crops or forest plantations and protection areas. The areas selected are suited to groundwater recharge and located in a region rich in indigenous peoples.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources will be the project’s executing entity, partnering with Fundación para la Conservación de los Recursos Naturales y Ambiente en Guatemala (FCG) and the Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (IARNA). Beneficiary institutions and sectors include the National Forest Institute (INAB), National Meteorological Authority (INSIVUMEH), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), local municipalities and community organisations and cooperatives.

For IUCN’s Guatemala coordinator, Úrsula Parrilla, “the project will scale up interinstitutional efforts that Guatemalan communities and institutions have been carrying out in a zone with unique natural and cultural wealth, promoting community-led climate action with a transformational approach by adding climate information to near- and medium-term decision making at both local and national level in the country.”

The project will focus on three areas: 1) integrated and climate-smart basin management adapted to the local context of the highlands; 2) funding for community climate action in basins by channelling resources to priority areas; and 3) information about climate provided to farmers and other stakeholders. Project implementation will take place over seven years.

Funding from the GCF will be complemented with a match from KOICA, along with a contribution pledged by the Guatemalan government from its PROBOSQUE Forest Incentive Programme.

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