Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation

Ecosystem-based Adaptation


Ecosystem-based Adaptation as defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

We invite you to click on each circle below for more information about EbA projects and initiatives taking place in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

proyectos piloto en       comunidad practicas en       proyectos region en      MEBA en

The Caribbean

fotografia1 almudena diaz

The VIA analysis in the Caribbean is being carried out by CARIBSAVE,which is a Not-For-Profit regional organization with its headquarters in Barbados. The analysis is being conducted in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Haiti at both the national and local scales focused on tourism, water resources, coastal areas and disaster risk reduction. The project is in its initial phases of planning and implementation.

In the context of the areas of interest – water resources, coastal areas and the tourism sector, the VIA analyses will provide understanding of the countries’ and watersheds’ exposure to climatic events based on current climate variability and future change (as indicated by scenarios in mean and extreme temperature), such as hurricanes and sea level rise. The climatic events to be considered will be based on those identified in nationally endorsed documents (such as National Communications to the UNFCCCC) and deemed to be of primary concern to the country. The VIA analyses will also identify:

  1. How land use change related to major economic activities like tourism, agriculture and aquaculture has influenced vulnerability;
  2. The key ecosystem services that contribute to livelihoods of national and local populations, and how the activities of these livelihoods such as tourism, fishing and aquaculture affect these services;
  3. Sensitivity of tourism, water resources and coastal areas to current climate variability and future climatic changes;
  4. Natural, social, economic, political, and human capital related to adaptive capacity; and
  5. Nationally and locally appropriate adaptation options to be integrated into strategies and policies.


The Andes

andes fig8The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) conducted the VIA analysis in the Andean region. The geographical boundaries of the study were limited to the Andean regions in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (Figure 8). The objective of the analysis was to determine the impacts of climate change on agriculture and water availability, considering the adaptive capacity of the population to cope with these impacts.

Exposure: The outputs from 19 GCM Earth System models were statistically downscaled based on the IPCC A2 scenario. The results (Figure 9) show that the region is likely to experience an increase in temperature, which may be as high as 2°C in the northern region of Colombia and the southern region of Peru. Changes in precipitation are much more uncertain; however the trends show that areas in central Peru and northern Colombia may experience a reduction in precipitation, whereas the central region of Colombia and most of the Ecuadorian region may experience an increase. In all regions the seasonal distribution will likely change.


Figure 9: Change in Average Annual Temperature and Precipitation

 andes fig9          andes fig10

Sensitivity: For each country a set of key crop were selected for analysis based on their importance to the economy or to local food security. The results show that some crops such as yucca, cacao and plantains may benefit from the changes in climate gaining production in new areas such as in the lower elevations of the Andes, whereas other crops such as potatoes and beans may lose suitability in the areas where they are currently cultivated. Figure 10 presents the areas in Peru that are most sensitive to changes in climate for the production of maize. Strong losses are expected to occur in the lower regions of the Peruvian Andes, however as the elevation increases the impacts are reduced until in some provinces the changes in climate become favorable for the future production of maize.

Figure 10: Changes in Suitability for Maize Production in Peru (2030 and 2050)

 andes fig10bis

To identify the population that has the greatest sensitivity to the impacts of climate change on agriculture the study identified the municipalities in each country with the highest levels of poverty and overlaid the results from the crop analyses. Figure 11 shows the results from Colombia, the areas in black experience high levels of poverty and are expected to experience high losses in the production of key crops for food security.

Figure 11: Areas of High Poverty and High Sensitivity of Crops for Food Security (Colombia)

 andes fig11

Adaptive Capacity: Indicators were selected to measure the economic, human, social, natural and physical resources of the population. Due to differences in data availability and scales unique indicators were used in each country to evaluate the adaptive capacity and therefore the results cannot be compared. Table 1 presents the results from Ecuador highlighting the municipalities with the lowest levels of adaptive capacity.These municipalities are highly dependent on agriculture and are expected to lose a high amount of their area for crop production as well as having high levels of poverty, population density and migration. In the Table, green represents a favorable condition for adaptive capacity and red represents an unfavorable condition, the darker the shade the more pronounced the condition.

Table 1: Municipalities in Ecuador that are most Exposed to Climate Change and Adaptive Capacity Indicators.

 Tabla Ecuador

Ecosystem Services: Based on stakeholder consultations and local knowledge of the area the impacts of climate change on the key ecosystem services were evaluated qualitatively. Table 2 presents an example of some of the ecosystem services that were evaluated and the potential threats from climate change.

Table 2: Ecosystem Services and Impacts from Climate Change

Ecosystem Service Threats from Climate Change Impact
Biodiversity and habitat Loss and migration of species Medium
Water resources, regulation of runoff and floods Reduced level of water availability, droughts, flooding, changes in the water cycle and prolonged precipitation High
Mitigation of risks Changes in the precipitation cycles resulting in flooding a mass removal High





Adaptation Options: Participatory adaptation planning workshops were held in each of the three countries with representatives from the national and local government, agriculture cooperatives, local NGOs and research institutions. In each country adaptation options were identified relevant to the local context and study results. In Colombia, six of the identified and prioritized adaptation options include:

  • Improve agro-climate forecasts and channels of communication of the information in order to effectively reach agricultural producers.
  • Investments in the implementation of conservation measures and protection of watersheds.
  • Investments in participatory research in collaboration with agricultural producers.
  • Strengthen technical assistance for training in climate change for technical government specialists.
  • At the farm level, promote programs on training and supporting the implementation of rainwater harvesting techniques.
  • Implement a system of microfinance to promote activities in agriculture conservation, restoration and conservation of watersheds.

Figure 12: Adaptation Planning Workshop in Giradot, Colombia (July 16th 2013)

 IMG 0964   IMG 0960

For more information and the full study:


Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation

In order to break the gap of local information available about the most vulnerable areas, population, sectors and / or ecosystems to the impacts of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean and strengthen climate change adaptation planning, REGATTA has carried out four climate change Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation analyses in each of the sub-regions: the Gran Chaco Americano (Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay), the Andes (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) and the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Haiti).


What is climate change vulnerability?

foto1 PabloAlfredoDeLucaThe number of definitions of climate change vulnerability is extensive and varies depending on the field of research. The IPCC (2007) definition is the most commonly used, which states that:

“Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity”.

What is a climate change vulnerability, impact and adaptation analysis?

The definition of a vulnerability analysis is even more complex to define. In general, a climate change vulnerability, impact and adaptation (VIA) analysis generates information that reveals the areas, population, sectors and/or ecosystems that are most susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

Why carry out a VIA analysis?

A VIA analysis is a critical tool for assisting decision-makers in understanding how to plan for climate change by evaluating the extent and magnitude of the expected impacts and identifying practical and viable measures to cope with the anticipated changes.

How do you conduct a VIA analysis?

There is no single approach for conducting a VIA analysis. Approaches and methods may vary depending on factors such as: scale, sector of analysis, time restrictions and financial and technical resources available. Figure 1 presents a VIA Analysis Methodological Framework developed under the REGATTA initiative, which is based on an extensive review of climate change VIA analyses and the implementation of four VIA projects in the LAC region. The framework captures the key components that a VIA analysis should entail to produce results that can be used for the adaptation planning process.

Figure 1: VIA Analysis Methodological Framework




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Central America

The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in collaboration with CIAT is conducting the VIA analysis in Central America. The study has two scales of implementation: a compilation of national level vulnerability indicators in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama; and vulnerability analysis with emphasis on local adaptive capacity in one watershed per country in Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. The study focuses on water, agriculture, and ecosystem services.

Exposure: The average from 24 GCMs was used to calculate the changes in temperature and precipitation for the time horizons of 2030 and 2050 under the A1B scenario. The results show that in all countries an increase in temperature of 1°C or greater is likely to occur. The increase in temperature is expected to be accompanied by a reduction in rainfall and prolonged periods of drought causing stress on water resources and ecosystem services.

Figure 13: Results from the Exposure Analysis in Guatemala

 central america1

Sensitivity: In the eight countries in the region 18 crops were analyzed. For each country the changes in crop suitability were modeled based on the results from the exposure analysis highlighting the areas that are most likely to lose or gain in crop suitability for production. For instance, in El Salvador crops for subsistence (maize, beans and sorghum) and commercial crops (coffee and sugarcane) were evaluated based on the results from the climate analysis. The results show that the crops most sensitive to the changes in climate are beans, coffee and sugarcane losing in area of productivity. Figure 14 highlights the municipalities in El Salvador that are likely to gain or lose area that is suitable for crop production (over 70% of the municipalities are expected to lose in area).

Figure 14 : Changes in Crop Suitability in Municipalities in El Salvador

 central america2

To estimate the sensitivity of the population to the potential impacts of climate change on crop production a map was produced showing the proportion of the population in each municipality that is dependent on agriculture. Figure 15 presents the results for the municipalities in El Salvador, which shows that an average of 50% of the population is employed in the agriculture sector. Overlaying the results from Figure 14 with Figure 15 the municipalities that are most sensitive to climate change can be determined for example: the municipality of Nuevo Cuscatlán may lose 19% of its area for crop production but only 14% of the population is dependent on agriculture compared to the municipality of Alegria where 46% of the population is dependent on agriculture.  

Figure 15: Municipalities in El Salvador Dependent on Agriculture

central america3

Adaptive Capacity: Three conditions were considered in the evaluation of the adaptive capacity of the population in the agriculture sector: the extent to which their basic needs are satisfied, the availability of resources to innovate and the capacity to take action. Indicators were selected to measure each condition. The results from Panama are presented in the Figure 16 below. The map shows that the areas with the lowest adaptive capacity are located on the Atlantic coasts, which is mainly due to their poor housing, water and sanitation conditions and limited access to education.

Figure 16 : Adaptive Capacity in the Municipalities of Panama

central america4

Adaptation Options: Adaptation options were identified for the region based on the results from the analyses including:

  • Adaptation in the agriculture sector requires work at different scales from the farm level to the national government.
  • Conversion and diversification of production systems and crops such as agroforestry and drought resistant varieties.
  • Improved use and distribution of rainwater and groundwater resources, promoting a balance between subsistence and cash crops.
  • Investment in human resources to implement adaptation actions with emphasis on management and use of local knowledge to address impacts including, monitoring and predicting climate.
  • Investment in social resources such as facilitating the local production and commercialization of crops or developing community agreements for the management of water resources.
  • Income diversification to reduce the sensitivity of rural communities that depend on agriculture.
  • Management of financial resources including local government budgets, credits, incentives and insurance.
  • Consideration of non-climatic factors for adaptation such as examining and eliminating policies that promote the conversion or degradation of ecosystems that function as water recharge and regulation areas.

   For more information:

*Results from the local analysis are expected in June 2014.


The Gran Chaco Americano

mapa gran chacoA consortium of three institutions: Universidad Nacional de Formosa (Argentina), Universidad de la Cordillera -Fundación la Cordillera (Bolivia) and Desarrollo, Participación y Ciudadanía (Paraguay) (UNF-UC-FC-DPC) were responsible for conducting the VIA analysis in the Gran Chaco Americano, which encompasses Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay (Figure 2). The analysis focused on agriculture and water resources at the regional scale and at a local scale in three communities in Paraguay with an emphasis on the local adaptive capacity.

Exposure: The outputs from the climate change scenarios generated from the Global Circulation Model (GCM) HADCM3 was downscaled (based on the IPCC A2 scenario) for the region. The results show an increase in the average annual temperature of over 1°C and in some areas such as Santa Cruz, Bolivia reaching a high of 1.75°C for the period of 2040. The results from the changes in precipitation are less certain; however the general trend demonstrates variations in seasonal and spatial distribution of rainfall. Figure 3 presents the changes in average temperature and precipitation from the baseline for the region.


Figure 3: Changes in Average Annual Temperature and Precipitation

gran chaco fig3         gran chaco fig4

Sensitivity: A set of key crops were selected for analysis based on their importance to the national economy and local food security. The analysis evaluated the changes in crop yields due to future changes in temperature and precipitation. The results show that kidney beans, sorghum and maize are the crops that have the greatest sensitivity to variations in climate resulting in reductions in crop yields. Other crops may benefit from the future changes in climate such as rice and cotton. Figure 4 presents the results from the analysis of the sensitivity of maize in the province of Formosa showing a clear reduction in future crop yields compared to the baseline.  

Figure 4: Variations in Crop Yields in the Province of Formosa, Argentina

 gran chaco fig4bis

Adaptive capacity: An Index of Adaptive Capacity was constructed based on the selection of a set of indicators to measure the social, economic, political, natural and human resources of the population. Figure 5 presents the departments in the Gran Chaco Americano that were evaluated as having a low adaptive capacity mainly due to their high dependence on agriculture, a lack of infrastructure to manage water resources (e.j. irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems) and limited institutional capacity.

Figure 5: Departments in the Gran Chaco Americano with a Low Adaptive Capacity

 gran chaco fig5

Ecosystem services: An analysis of the resilience of ecosystems was carried out using GIS to generate maps of ecoregions and land cover change. The results in Figure 6 show the areas (in red) that have lost a greater proportion of their natural cover. These areas are considered to have a lower resilience to climate change. The results from this assessment can be useful for developing an adaptation strategy that emphasizes using Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures by enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of the areas in green and promoting regeneration of the areas in red.

Figure 6: Map of Ecosystem Resilience

 gran chaco fig6

Adaptation Options: In each country participatory adaptation planning workshops were held to identify and prioritize adaptation options with the participation of local and national governments, research institutions, NGOs and community organizations. Common adaptation options identified in each country include: incorporating ecosystem-based adaptation practices in the agriculture sector such as agroforestry and silvopastorial systems and developing rainwater catchment and storage systems.

Figure 7: Adaptation Planning Workshop in Formosa, Argentina (July 02nd 2013)

foto gran chaco

For more information and the complete study:


Pilot projects

The Regional Gateway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action in Latin America and the Caribbean (REGATTA) supports countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region to address climate change adaptation through the development of pilot projects at various scales. The following projects, are currently supported by REGATTA:

1. Bolivia

2. Guatemala

3. México

4. República Dominicana

5. Perú


Objective: clarify doubts or questions related to the call for proposals on EbA projects.

Duration: 60 minutes

Language: Spanish

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All about Regatta

With financial support from the Government of Spain, UNEP pioneer an innovative and dynamic support mechanism: the Regional Getaway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action for Latin America and the Caribbean – REGATTA.

REGATTA´s objective is to strengthen capacity and knowledge sharing of climate change technologies and experiences for adaptation and mitigation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This regional Network is also contributing to the implementation of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) in the region, through the organization of joint virtual seminars and the provision of technical support to the development of countries ‘proposals.


LAC Countries have stronger capacity to develop low carbon emission climate resilient development strategies

REGATTA is supporting the mainstreaming of Climate Change Adaptation in National Development Plan, strengthening the dialogue for the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process in participating countries.

LAC countries are connected and have more access to relevant and updated information on Climate Change

Through the Communities of Practice and webinars, REGATTA compiles climate change information, gathers experiences, disseminates cutting-edge knowledge and builds a stronger connection among relevant individuals from several sectors and sub-regions.

Development of the Regional Lighting Efficiency Strategy in Central America

REGATTA and the en.lighten initiative provided technical support for the development of the regional strategy to accelerate market transformation to environmentally sustainable lighting technologies. The strategy, endorsed by the Ministers of Energy, includes the gradual phase-out of inefficient incandescent lamps in the region by the end of 2016. Click here for more info.