Adaptation to Climate Change through effective Water Governance
Ecuador faces a variety of climate change risks associated with changes in temperature and precipitation, as well as possible alterations to ocean currents. Climate change impacts are difficult to predict and model for the country due to its complex geographical and climatic situation associated with the existence of coastal, highland, and forest regions. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify a range of plausible climate change
scenarios at the national and regional levels, which can be used to help Ecuador prepare climate change
outcomes, increase the resilience of the water sector, and avoid maladaptation.
This project will promote climate-resilient development of the water sector. A single project cannot hope to address the entire spectrum of climate change risks for Ecuador’s water sector, so the project’s scope has been circumscribed to address priority capacity development and institutional changes. It will also implement specific responses at the local level in two important economic activities—agriculture and hydropower. Adaptation measures will include disaster risk reduction in vulnerable zones in all the provinces of intervention, as the vulnerability assessments showed that water-related extreme events are the most disruptive to livelihoods. This was highlighted during the last rainy season when very intense and prolonged rains caused disasters in 13 of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, including the provinces of intervention. Disasters included floods, flash floods, and landslides. It has been predicted that an El Niño event could take place during 2009, the Full Size Project’s first year.
Results and Learning:
Project Objective: To reduce vulnerability to climate change through effective water resource management. The project objective is to increase adaptive capacities to address climate change risks in water resource management. This will contribute to the broader goal of mainstreaming climate change risks into water management practices in Ecuador.
Key lessons learned:
- Involve key stakeholders early in the process to ensure that outcomes and outputs are appropriately aligned: Key stakeholders, both at the central level (MoE, Ministry of Agriculture, CNRH and SENPLADES) and at the provincial and local levels (Provincial Councils, Water Agencies, Municipal governments, NGOs), will be involved in the formulation of practical measures, taking into account the evolving needs of the institutions and the policy context for the water sector. More importantly, the guidelines will target the needs of the on-going planning efforts mentioned earlier to ensure that this integration will be established as a learning exercise. Thus, the ultimate goal of the guidelines is to effectively assist policy makers in setting up a framework for the integration of climate risk in the water sector. Outcomes 2 and 3 were also adjusted.
- Allow for modifications to the proposal: The original project proposal was modified in order to define more precisely the boundaries of the project and its proposed activities, and to allow for a clear distinction between baseline and project activities. Outcome 1 was originally: to strengthen policy environment and governance structure for effective water management through the integrating of adaptation to climate change in water governance structures. Following input from stakeholders, Outcome 1 was modified: Climate change risk on the water sector integrated into key relevant plans and programmes. This formulation allows for a continued mainstreaming effort in the water governance institutionality that will undoubtedly change during the anticipated political changes that the country will sustain during the formulation of a new constitution. Three instead of four outcomes have been identified in the revised proposal. Capacity building activities have been limited to one outcome while the other two outcomes focus on demonstration activities and improving water governance frameworks (i.e. legislation, national plans, etc) to integrate climate change risks. The outcomes now provide a description of their respective scope as well as more detailed description of the activities to be implemented.
- Merge disaster risk management and adaptation plans (when possible): At the local level, provinces and municipalities have development plans, and some of them also include risk management plans. However, these plans do not take into account risks from climate change. Currently, these plans are implemented based on public priorities and potential investment opportunities by public and private stakeholders. In some selected provinces, actions taken to improve water management and conservation are driven by negative water balance effects, which are partly the result of climate-induced factors. Although there is insufficient public awareness, some actions are undertaken already in important watersheds such as Paute, Jubones, Catamayo and others which are within the boundaries of the project. To guarantee the inclusion of climate change risks criteria into provincial and local development plans, the project will develop, with appropriate stakeholder input, an implementation strategy to apply the guidelines. The execution of this strategy will result in the integration of climate change concerns into key provincial and local development plans. This will help to facilitate a systematic adoption of climate change adaptation actions related to water management which, together with baseline development programmes, will contribute towards more efficient water use and reduced water supply vulnerability.
- Create a Management Support Group that strategically forms vital partnerships: The project will take advantage of the fact that key national institutions are part of the Management Support Group of this project. These institutions are key participants in the current elaboration of the National Development Plan, including the National Secretariat of Planning (SENPLADES), the MoE, CNRH, and CONCOPE. These partners will promote the consideration of climate change issues into the National Development Plan. This will ensure that climate risks in the water sector do not become an obstacle to the achievement of related development objectives. Concretely, the project will ensure that the National Development Plan incorporates climate change concerns regarding water resources by acknowledging (a) the threat posed by climate change and (b) creating an enabling environment (e.g. through legislative changes) that will promote adaptation.
- Identify complementarities and establish linkages with other programmes and action plans at regional and sub-regional levels: The Second National Communication (SCN), whose objective is to report to the UNFCCC on national efforts to address climate change, to formulate a national strategy, and to identify priorities for mitigation and adaptation, including potential projects for funding in these areas. The SNC will carry out vulnerability and adaptation assessments, and will identify priority measures and polices to build resilience in different sectors. Given the high complementarity between the SNC and this project, especially as both will be housed at MoE, close coordination among the project managers and the technical teams will be established from the beginning. The SNC is expected to generate impact studies that could feed into the design of adaptation strategies, and has already established a climate steering committee which will also form part of the project’s consultation strategy.
To ensure sustainability the project design relies on the following elements:
- A commitment to long-term planning at all levels, from strategies (such as promotion of inter-sectoral decision-making through inter-sectoral fora), to policies (such as projection of water supply for hydropower projects), to specific measures (such as pre-defined action plans for dealing with floods).
- Building of multi-sectoral teams, to allow climate-change adaptation to be integrated into planning in a wide range of sectors;
- Explicit consideration of costs and benefits, with endorsement of strategies, policies and measures only if they can be expected to provide overall net benefits to sustainable development;
- Commitment to continuous monitoring and regular evaluation of interventions over time; and inclusion of awareness-building and fund-raising amongst national and international agencies and donors as a core activity.
In the case of Ecuador, project sustainability turns on the initiative’s effectiveness influence over existing water governance structures and integrating adaptation into national policies. In the context of decentralization, it will also require the project to be rooted in regional and local institutions. Successful mainstreaming of climate change concerns into national and regional development planning will facilitate sustainability of the climate change agenda in the long-term. Activities in support of the adaptation agenda to climate change will be integrated into the mainstreaming of planning, as decision support mechanisms, and this is expected to facilitate its long-term sustainability. Public awareness and outreach activities will also help to build the institutional and political support needed to facilitate mainstreaming after project completion.
Climate change adaptation is at an early stage of development both in Ecuador and in the region. This project is therefore explicitly designed to pilot adaptation in Ecuador subject to the broadest possible range of climatic vulnerabilities to different kinds of water governance issues, but which have reasonable capacity in terms of infrastructure and human resources. By developing systemic capacity while demonstrating adaptation measures on the ground, the project will establish the conditions necessary for replication and scale up.
The project will seek to show practical results that can be immediately applied. The projections of water supply in the face of climate change for the Paute Hydropower project will enable its management to immediately design and adopt adaptation measures. Lessons learned can be immediately applied in other major hydropower projects, like Agoyan and Daule-Peripa, and in medium-sized and small hydropower projects like Abanico, Sibimbe, and Rio Calope. New projects, like the Coca-Codo Sinclair (approx. 859 Megawatts), Mazar and Sopladora, will benefit from the conclusions reached in this project.
The identification of vulnerable zones has taken into account the geographic location in relation to climatic conditions and risks to which it is exposed: Manabí is a coastal zone which is particularly susceptible to droughts and floods. The lessons learned from the pilot projects will be especially valuable for replication in other areas of the country. Further, the design and eventually lessons learnt from the project will contribute to further adaptation learning, and implementation of effective climate change adaptation in other vulnerable countries. The project will make use of the GEF Adaptation Learning Mechanism, to ensure that the lessons learnt from the project contribute to, and benefit from, experience in adapting to climate change across the whole of the GEF portfolio.