Building an Effective Dialogue on Water And Climate for the Central America Isthmus

Implementing Institution: Unión Mundial para la Naturaleza-UICN Mesoamérica
Administration of Funds and Technical Assistance: Unión Mundial para la Naturaleza–UICN Mesoamérica
Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos (CRRH)
Asociación Mundial del Agua-GWP-CATAC

Duration: 1 year
Official Termination Date: June 2003
Address: UICN-Mesoamérica
Moravia, Costa Rica, 100 metros sur Iglesia Católica.
Teléfono (506) 241-01-01
Fax (506) 240 99 34
APARTADO: 0146-2150 Moravia, Costa Rica.
[email protected]

The call from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), under the framework of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for supporting scientific assessments on the state of global climate by the middle 80s, marks the initiation of an organized and systematic collaboration and involvement of the Central American countries in the climate change issue.

The first climate change programs were established under the National Meteorological Institutions in order to contribute with the efforts of data networking with large research centers and to develop studies on climate tendencies and anomalies.

These organizations were the supporting scientific agencies for the Foreign Affairs Ministries during the process that lead to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN-FCCC).

During the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992, the Presidents of Central America signed the Climate Change Convention and at the same time, recognizing the scientific complexity of the issue and the strong political implications it had, they requested their Foreign Affairs Ministers to prepare a regional treaty that includes a scientific and political follow up mechanism that support regional decisions to be taken in the future. Therefore, in Guatemala, October 1993, the Central American Agreement on Climate Change was signed by the Foreign affairs Ministers.

In this document it is requested to the Central American Integration System (SICA)[1], through their agencies specialized in Environment and Hydrometeorology (Central American Commission on Environment and Development, CCAD, and the Regional Committee on Hydraulic Resources, CRRH) to take the lead and support the actions of the UN-FCCC and IPCC.

Since then CCAD has been very active on the regional political process mainly concern with mitigation of emissions of greenhouse gases, emissions trade offs, etc, under the Conference of Parties for the UN-FCCC. On the other hand, CRRH has been very active on developing activities on the impacts assessments and adaptation options.

Several regional vulnerability assessments were developed in the areas of agriculture, water resources and sea level rise. National assessments added studies on forests and health. All these studies, including the climate scenarios specially developed for most of the countries in Central America, were included in their National Communications to the UN-FCCC[2].

A new project is being implemented with the cooperation on the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), GEF-UNEP and the Program START. The main objective is to assess the impacts of climate change in the water resources of Central America in the context of other changes in the region’s environment, economy and life’s quality and to design adaptations measurements.

Besides this activities, CRRH and their member organizations have organized several of the largest meetings on climate change in Central America, including the IPCC Plenary, the first IPCC International Meeting on Adaptation to Climate Change, the International meeting on Vulnerability Assessments of Climate Change for the world’s country studies programs and his Director Co-coordinated the Latin American Chapter for the WGII-IPCC-TARnservation in Asia, Africa and Latin America

Project Purpose
To develop a multi stakeholder dialogue process that allows to create awareness on the issues of climate variability, climate change and water management in the Central American countries.

To develop specific interactions with the case studies lead by IUCN, OAS, GWP-CATAC-CRRH/SICA), (Annex I), and organize a regional multi stakeholder workshop where the results from the cases studies can be presented and discussed.

To develop a framework for action which allow to incorporate the climate change issue within the integrated water resources management with the participation of all key stakeholders including the existing initiatives.

To incorporate the issues of climate change, climate variability and water management into the formal education agenda for primary and secondary schools by means of national workshops and material’s production.

To prepare and publish informative materials to create awareness, including video clips, video conferences, multimedia, fact sheets, brochures, bulletins, WEB page, and reports.

The outputs from this activity can be divided in:

  • Production of materials (from previous studies and cases studies)
  • Video clips, video conferences, multimedia, fact sheets, brochures, bulletins, WEB page.
  • Report’s from the National Education sector dialogue series, which will be consolidated in a regional document for the Dialogue process and to be discussed at the regional dialogue.
  • A regional framework for action.
  • Reports from the case studies.

Based on the above considerations and taking into the account the short time frame available for contributing to accomplish the Water and Climate Dialogue objectives, it is necessary to design a Central America Dialogue process that consider the experiences developed and the results already produced on climate change. At the same time, it would be also necessary to use the actual climate variability agenda being implemented by CRRH under their SICA structure[3].

1. Short term case studies:[4]
A limited number of short term case studies that contribute to provide new and or complementary information to the one already available at the regional/country/and local levels. These case studies will be coordinated individually by:

  • GWP-CATAC (Water valuation under climate change scenarios, Annex I)
  • OAS (Transboundary waters, and Small Valley)
  • IUCN (water and ecosystems).
2. Education programs:
According with the UN-FCCC the country Parties should include within their national programs activities on education, training and awareness. Because most of the efforts in the world have been dedicated to provide information to decision makers and planners, ie., a top-bottom approach, the Dialogue process present an opportunity to transform the information already available in the region, regarding climate change and variability, and the one derived from the case studies, into a set of materials that would facilitate the interactions with sectors not included yet in the solution of the problem.

One sector that plays a multiplying role is the education sector. Therefore, it is considered necessary to include the knowledge already available for Climate Change and variability into the formal education programs.

Another important sector to work with is the mass media communication. They can reach all levels of society as well as all sectors of economy creating awareness on the climate change and variability issues.

Therefore, the activities for the education programs can be divided in formal and non formal and the can take place simultaneously and use the same materials.

A formal program can be developed by promoting the issues of climate variability and climate change and water management in educational programs for primary and secondary schools in the countries of Central America. The best and less expensive approach is to develop the materials on the issues for primary and secondary professors for sciences and geography, so they can work with their students based on regional, national and local experiences.

  • National Dialogues with science and geography primary and secondary level professors:
    The National Dialogues would include a one day workshop per country in which the materials will presented along with several conferences on the issue of climate and water. This activity should be coordinated with the Central American Council on Education (CEC/SICA), the Superior Council of Universities for Central America (CSUCA/SICA), National Ministries for Education, National Associations for Primary and Secondary professors.

Non-formal programs: includes a regional multi stakeholder workshop (dialogue), video conferences, WEB page, bulletins, media campaigns and other communication techniques that will contribute to create awareness.

  • Regional Multi stakeholder Dialogue with important presence of the media communication sector and other stakeholders: a two days regional workshop will be organized in order to present the main issues of climate and water, including adaptation to climate change and variability, as well as the results from the cases studies and the fact sheets. This activity should be coordinated with the specialized organizations for mass media communication and the responsible organizations for the case studies (GWP-CATAC/CRRR-SICA, IUCN and OAS).
  • International Conference on Water Resources for the XXI Century: by invitation of the Government of Mexico, October 11, 2002. The Central America region would have a session dedicated to discuss on the advances of the Regional Dialogue on Climate and Water toward the III-WWF with the other similar initiatives for the Americas. It is expected that key persons from the activities in Central America participate in the discussion. The structure and agenda for the session has not been decided.
  • In order to address specific issues to the decision level, video conferences can be used. CRRH normally develop 3 video conferences per year to a different Ministerial sectors. During these video conferences the climate tendencies for Central America are presented. CRRH can share the agenda during these VCs reducing the costs.
  • Video clips: four video clips can be developed for describing:
    • The socio economic value of water (including health).
    • How variable is the supply side of the water cycle (including their extremes).
    • Effects of the growing demand side (including contamination).
    • The effects of climate change on water management.
  • WEB page: it can be created or attached as a link to the main Dialogue page. It should include all materials produced: fact sheets, video clips, national workshops reports, regional workshops reports, other documents available.

3. Frameworks for action
The roundtables and regional workshop will result in an analytical framework for addressing climate change within the regional context of water resources management and policy including the improvement of ecosystem management. Key information needs, including assessments of specific a watersheds, riverbasins and wetlands, will be identified. Climate change options wil be identified and evaluated in the context of the sustainable management of water resources and climate change. These options will form the basis of a framework for action. This will include actions that can be undertaken by NGO’s, the private sector, community organizations, education institutions and Government agencies.

Contribution to the Objectives of the III WWF-Dialogue on Water and Climate
The activities’ contribution to accomplish the objectives of the Dialogue on Water and Climate are:

Short term case studies:

  • Dialogue objectives:……generation of knowledge….identification of policy and management options.
  • UN-FCCC objectives: New inputs for National Communications.
  • IPCC objectives: Fourth Assessment Report on impacts and adaptation……reduction of uncertainties…

National Dialogues with science and geography primary and secondary level professors:

  • Dialogue objectives:……development of information network……generation of knowledge….identification of policy and management options…..generating awareness).
  • UN-FCCC objectives: National programs should include education programs to create awareness,…..inputs for National Communications.
  • IPCC objectives: Fourth Assessment Report on impacts and adaptation……adaptation options …

Non-formal programs

  • Dialogue objectives: development of information network generation of knowledge….identification of policy and management options generating awareness).
  • UN-FCCC objectives: National programs should include education programs to create awareness, .inputs for National Communications).
  • IPCC objectives: Fourth Assessment Report on impacts and adaptation adaptation options …
Framework with political buy-in

  • Frameworks for adapting to climate change that include actions targeted at the most vulnerable areas and communities in the region. The framework will be a negotiation tool during the dialogue process in order to commit the governments of the countries to start and implement actions

[1] Central American Integration System (SICA): Regional organization in charge of preparing initiatives for responding to the decision making process derived from the Meetings of the Presidents and Foreign Affairs Ministers for Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. SICA also promotes the participation of civil society in its process and promotes the international cooperation toward the region. Back to top.

[2] UN-FCCC, Article 4-1b establish that the countries, Parties to the Convention should formulate, apply, publish and update regularly national and accordingly regional programs that includes measures oriented to mitigate climate change…….as well as……measures to facilitate an appropriate adaptation to climate change.Back to top

[3] Drought 2001, CRRH / Climate Outlook Forum, CRRH-SICA / El Niño 97-98 study, CRRH-CEPREDENAC-BID-Japan. Back to top

[4] Short term case studies have been presented to the Dialogue Secretariat by GWP/CATAC and CRRH-SICA, IUCN and OAS-CRRH/SICA. Back to top