Strengthening Social and Ecological Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change in the Orotoy Watershed, Colombia
In Colombia, extreme weather is causing floods, landslides, and droughts with more frequency and intensity than ever before. These events are resulting in higher economic, social, environmental, and human costs. Colombia's Orotoy watershed, spanning from the low-lying Orinoco plains to the Andean mountains, is highly vulnerable to such extreme events. Current climate scenarios suggest that rainfall will decrease in the low-lying plains, while increasing in the mountains. Across the watershed, it is likely that flooding, landslides (in the mountains), and droughts (in the lowlands) will increase in severity. In addition to changes in climate, the region is experiencing a rapid expansion of intensified agriculture, fish farming, tourism, and extractive industries, such as mining, oil, and gas. The cumulative effect of climate and socio-economic changes are affecting ecosystems and how environmental services are provided to people across the province. This project will study the linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem water services, and the livelihoods of rural people residing in the Orotoy watershed. Researchers will also analyze how future climate and land use change scenarios may affect water availability and use, including how current water governance schemes would need to be adjusted. More specifically, the project will aim to: - identify the impact of social and ecological changes on water ecosystem services in the Orotoy watershed; - generate climate vulnerability maps and identify the areas of critical importance to hydrological regulation, water governance, and conservation; - identify locally relevant adaptation strategies; - develop a collaborative adaptation plan for the Orotoy watershed; and - contribute to national climate change policy development. The research team will apply a variety of research methods from remote sensing and hydrological modelling to social and economic analysis. By involving community organizations, local governments, and environmental regulation agencies, it will contribute to locally relevant adaptation plans and promote their integration into provincial and national policy frameworks. Project results will inform national adaptation policies and regulations. They will also contribute to mainstreaming adaptation across the country. Another important outcome will be an enhanced local knowledge base. The project team will develop and implement a specialized diploma program to train 100 community leaders, mid-level policymakers, and local and regional government officials.