Ecuador hosts climate change workshops

Ecuador hosts climate change workshops

19 December 2007

International Workshop on Climate Change in Latin America

Organizers of the Workshop: The workshop was organized by the Andean Community of Nations, the Municipalities of Quito and Guayaquil

Objective of the Workshop: To discuss the situation of climate change and its effects in the Andean and Latin America countries and produce recommendations to governments, organizations, institutions and civil society on how to address this problem.

Regarding the governments, the aim of the workshop is to have recommendations on climate change that will be presented by the government of Ecuador to the Ministries of the Environment meeting that will be held in the Dominican Republic as well to the Presidents' Meeting that will be held in Peru. The recommendations will be also presented in the 13th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Bali.

Objective of Ramsar attendance: To present the results of the workshop of experts in Water, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change in a way to provide relevant information in the international debate as well as to strengthen the mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as to discuss and agree with the Andean Community of Nations ways of cooperation for the implementation of the High Andean Wetland Strategy.

The workshop was divided in two sessions, the first one in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from 15-16 of October.

Guayaquil 15 October

The opening of the meeting was made by the Secretary General of the Andean Community of Nations, Mr. Freddy Elders, the Minister of the Environment of Ecuador Anita Alban, and the Mayor of Guayaquil Jaime Nabot. All of them mentioned the importance of climate change at the global level and the urgent need for actions to mitigate and address this phenomenon.

During the first day of sessions the main presentations were made by Osvaldo Canziani, Co-President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who called the attention to the results of the Group I and II of the Panel. He also mentioned the main impacts of climate change on natural resources including marine wetlands, that will disappear as mangroves and estuaries and coral reefs and human health. It was emphasized that there is a lack of data on Latin American countries regarding observation measures comparing with other countries.

Other important contributions were made by Graciela Magrin, leader for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Her presentation was focused on the impact of climate change in Coastal Zones in Latin America and called attention to the importance of taking adaptation measures, the integrated management of coastal zones being one of them.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (June Budhooram) mentioned the objectives of the Convention and the challenges of the Convention. Special mention was made of the next COP that will be held in Bali in December 2007 and its purpose to have a comprehensive agenda and effective framework in progress for 2009-2010.

Workshop on International Negotiations and Marine Biodiversity

In these workshops participants discussed the need of improve and collect information regarding the effect of climate change in some countries in Latin America.

Guayaquil 16 October

On the second day of the meeting, ten presentations were made related to the market of carbon, eco-cities and policies. The main conferences were presented by James Atkins from Vertis Environmental Finance, who talked about the current market for carbon and its aspiration. He also mentioned the Kyoto Protocol - signed 1997; in force from 2005; 39 Annex 1 countries, the EU Emission Trading Scheme and the EU Directive 2003/87 - effective from 2005 and the New schemes in USA, Australia.

Pedro Huarte Mendioca from the World Bank explained the state and trends of the carbon market 2007, the markets for allowance, project based transactions, voluntary carbon compensation.

The Global Footprint Network made a presentation on measuring sustainability with the ecological footprint - About who is using the footprint at the international level (Convention on Biodiversity, EU) and the national level (countries like Switzerland, Japan, Belgium) and the level of regions and cities (Utah, London, Cape Town) and NGOs (WWF Living Planet Reports).

Quito 17 October

The opening in Quito was made by the President Rafael Correa, who called attention to a "Universal survivor agreement" to face climate change and the damage in general to the environment.

After the opening seven presentations were made, the most relevant issues being Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of the IV Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made by Osvaldo Canziani and the adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change.

Workshop on Mountain Ecosystems

Four presentations were made by the Paramo Project, ECOBIONA, Ideam (Colombia) and the Ramsar Convention during the workshop.

The Ramsar presentation was focused on an overview of the Convention in the Americas and the results of the Workshop of Experts in Water, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change in March of 2007 between the Ramsar Convention and the Biodiversity Convention. It also emphasized the key messages and key responses resulting from the workshop and the importance of wetlands and high Andean wetlands in mitigation of climate change and the need of its inclusion in adaptation measures.

After the presentations participants worked on the definition of the main concern in Mountain Ecosystems for climate change and what are the opportunities to face the problem. As a result of the discussions the need was clear to generate more information regarding the effects of climate change in ecosystems and its species. The main conclusions of the workshop were included in the 21 recommendations resulting of the complete meeting.

Quito 18 October

Nine presentations were made, the main ones beingon food security and agriculture production (Graciela Magrin, leader for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); Glaciers (Bernard Francou, IRD France); water for High Cities (Walter Vergara, World Bank); and new models of development (Lenin Moreno, Vice-president of Ecuador).

Conclusions of the Meeting

As a result of the meeting and the conferences and workshop, the organizers prepared 21 proposals for the 21st Century. These conclusions were presented by CAN to the Vice President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, with the purpose to be presented as a document of Latin America countries in the different workshops related with climate change issues. Some of these proposals more related with Ramsar issues are:

4. The Andean glaciers present an accelerated retraction, generating serious consequences for the lack of water for human use, agriculture and energy. These areas must be declared an emergency and apply immediately the measures requested by the scientific community.

5. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are characterized by their rich biodiversity and are reservoirs of important amounts of carbon. Currently Paramos, Andean, Amazon and dry forest as well as coral reefs are the most vulnerable ecosystems in Latin America. It is necessary to strengthen scientific research and design systems for the monitoring of the effects of climate change and take measures that ensure the conservation and wise use of biodiversity as well as the environmental services provided by ecosystems.

6. The CDM projects (Clean Development Mechanism) are an opportunity to protect the environment and a contribution to reducing damage in the atmosphere. It is necessary to strengthen the governments' capacity and the private sector for the formulations of proposals that must also consider the conservation of natural areas. Besides, the resources for CDM should be oriented for social development and conservation of natural areas.

Meeting with CAN Secretariat

Ramsar, the Ramsar regional representative for the Neotropics, and CAN (Office of Environmental Issues) discussed the different options of cooperation of CAN in the implementation of the High Andean Wetland Strategy. In this context the main issues agreed are:

1. Involvement of CAN in the organization of the next meeting of the High Andean Wetland Strategy next year (2008) in Colombia

2. The co-sponsoring of a short film about high Andean wetlands and the publication of the Strategy for next meeting in 2008 and for COP10

3. MOU between Ramsar and CAN supporting the Strategy. The MOU would be signed during the meeting in Colombia.

CAN also expressed the interest of becoming partner of Ramsar in a way that they could participate in Ramsar meetings.

Next Steps

1. CAN and High Andean Wetland Strategy

Follow up of the issues agreed, by the preparation of a document that explains the different activities for the organization of the meeting in Colombia (meeting, film and publication), resources and involvement of Ramsar partner organizations.

Involve other donors that have sponsored the formulation and follow-up of the High Andean Wetland Strategy in the organization of the meeting in 2008.

2. Climate Change Issues

It is clear the high importance of the issue of climate change in the international level and for the countries of Latin America. However there is little knowledge about the relationship between ecosystems and climate change at the international level and there is a lack of connection of the Convention of Climate Change with other MEAs. In the same way, the issues of climate change are not well understood by most of the people, especially the projects of CDM and carbon markets.

The issue of climate change is a good opportunity for Ramsar to call attention to wetlands and to provide relevant information in the international debate about their importance in the mitigation and adaptation process.

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have important information regarding the effects of climate change, mainly in marine wetlands, but also this body can be used to send relevant information about wetlands and climate change generated by the Ramsar and Biodiversity Conventions. Also it is important to establish relationships with the Convention of Climate Change and inform about the results of the workshop on water, wetlands and biodiversity.

-- María Rivera, Ramsar