The importance of working at the science-society interface for adaptation to climate change in local territories of Latin America: case studies of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina

Submitted by Monica Coll Besa | published 2nd Sep 2013 | last updated 15th May 2019
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This presentation (provided below), which is part of the EcoADAPT project, emphasises the importance of working at the science-society interface for adaptation to climate change, especially in relation to water resources management and governance. This project uses three Model Forest territories located in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile respectively.

Through a bottom-up process that takes into account the local development dynamics, important messages that emerge from this preliminary work include:

  • The importance of co-construction of knowledge and building shared understanding through scientists-CSO partnerships in the adaptation process
  • Social and technical validation through feedback workshops with different actors in the territories of concern; especially relevant for preventing and managing natural resources conflicts as they emerge
  • Importance of participatory social network mapping as a way to reveal/negotiate adaptation barriers at an early stage and as an opportunity to expand networks across scales and actor types
  • Identification of socio-institutional barriers and strengths through participatory social network mapping to build adaptation strategies helps to understand the socio-institutional landscape of an area in a structured way (i.e. formally through the analysis of policy documents and the like, and informally, through the analysis of social networks)
  • Barriers and strengths serve as direct entry points for the identification of key adaptation interventions
  • Examples of emerging transformations and preliminary impacts by working at the science-society interface and through a bottom-up action-research process include:    
    • In Chile, water resources has become the ‘new agenda’ in the Bosque Modelo the Alto Malleco for the new strategy that the CSO is currently developing. In addition, a new dialogue has emerged between the communities and the private sector to enable water access to the communities of the Rio Bío Bío.
    • In Bolivia, this process has strengthened the capacity of an existing watershed committee and currently, leadership within the team is being identified.
    • In Argentina, this process served as an opportunity to better position the Bosque Modelo de Jujuy with other actors of the network.

Overall, this preliminary work ensures that the process helps to build trust with different actors and set expectations, it helps to empower the stakeholders in the local territories while strengthening the participatory processes, and most importantly helps building the Project ownership which are all essential ingredients for long lasting partnerships and long-term sustainability of adaptation strategies.

This qualitative work will be a direct input for the next phases of the project which include participatory exploratory scenario analysis alongside simulation and evaluation models based on both quantitative and qualitative data.

The work from the socio-institutional component undertaken under the EcoADAPT project was presented at the Annual International Conference 2013 held at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London on Friday 30th August, 2013. The Conference theme was entitled ‘New geographical frontiers’, and the EcoADAPT research work conducted thus far was presented in a session called ‘Natural resources at the centre of conflicting visions? Quantitative/qualitative frontier for consensual environmental management’.