In 2012, the National Ministry of Environment (MAE by its Spanish acronym) in Ecuador established the National Climate Change Strategy 2012-2025 (ENCC by its Spanish acronym) with the vision of “managing the challenges of climate change in a timely manner, guaranteeing Good Living and the rights of nature.” The strategy formally recognises the importance of involving different levels of governments, including the Autonomous Decentralised Governments (GADs by its Spanish acronym). The GADs are decentralised institutions that enjoy political, administrative and financial autonomy, governed by the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity, equity, interterritorial, integration and citizen participation. The GADs are organised as regional, provincial, cantonal and parish GADs.
Azuay is one of the 25 provincial GADs (or provinces) of Ecuador located in the South of the country, in the geographical area known as the inter-Andean region or Sierra. Although the ENCC formally recognises the provinces as key actors, there has not been a rapprochement on the part of the MAE, nor of the Inter-institutional Committee on Climate Change – CICC, for the implementation of the same on the provincial level, in particular of the province of Azuay. Nonetheless, the provincial strategy is aligned to the national one due to the scientific and research bases that sustain it, contextualising the objectives to the local territorial reality. In this context, the provincial government of Azuay created its own Climate Strategy in 2015, the so-called ‘MAR Strategy’, consisting of three objectives to address climate change: Mitigation, Adaptation and Reversal:
Create conditions to maintain and improve productivity in new and changing weather conditions.
Employ all the creativity and human capacity to maintain and even improve the climatic conditions that have made and make the existence of the Circle of Life possible
Concept of the MAR Strategy
Water is considered as the vital element in adapting Azuay’s productive systems, mitigating the effects and reversing the causes that have increased climate change. It is also the element most affected by anthropogenic activities, with a society that has been losing awareness of its spiritual, environmental, social and cultural importance. In this regard, the strategy is based on the water cycle as a concept that seeks to change the linearity of traditional projects and strategies, thus understanding feedback processes. The phases of implementation of the strategy correspond to different stages through which the water passes: Lake, mountain river, plain/rainforest river, to finally reach the sea. The lake is proposed at the starting point given that the province is noted for having lakes and lagoons that feed the hydrological systems of the coast and the Amazon rainforest.
First stage: Lake
This initial stage of the strategy consists of information gathering and data collection about the current state of the environment of the province with regards to climate change, considering all relevant actors, just like rainfall, creeks and small streams nourishing a lake, which gives, in turn, rise to bigger streams that ultimately favour a strong and turbulent river.
Second stage: Mountain river
Born from a lake and fed by many water channels both superficial and underground, a mountain river must overcome many natural obstacles, and is turbulent due to the steep slopes. Translated to the MAR strategy, this means that with the support of the information gathered in the lake stage, the mountain river stage will be the development of urgent plans for the management of the risks that climatic change entails, the research for adequate adaptation methods, and the analysis of opportunities to boost production in a sustainable manner.
Third stage: Plain/rainforest river
Crossing the mountains, overcoming the obstacles of unifying channels and objectives to embark on a common path, the plain is reached. The regime of a plain river is much less turbulent, more leisurely, but also lighter. In this phase productive networks are established. It is a phase where permanent and systematic research will be promoted that allows Azuay’s production systems to adapt to the changes, and where action plans will be collectively constructed.
Fourth stage: Sea
This will be an evaluation of the whole process, or the long way the water has come. Metaphorically speaking, it will create clouds and the resulting rain will again feed other water cycles, reminding that everything is connected through water.
The use of the water cycle metaphor for the different stages of the strategy, and the fact that it passes through different geographical locations, also highlights the need to apply an integral and holistic view, both for its implications in social and economic aspects and for the fact that it is necessary to protect all ecosystems.
Although the implementation of the strategy must be carried out through the highest authority of the provincial GAD of Azuay, the Provincial Environmental Quality Coordination will be responsible for articulating the work both, internally with the provincial units / directorates / companies, and externally with the actors identified, as well as for the implementation of the strategy.
Key results of the activities undertaken:
Projects carried out in the framework of the MAR Strategy: