The waters of the Gulf of Montijo in Panama are warming up, effectively driving fish and the fishermen depending on them further out where temperatures are cooler. At the same time, the coast line is eroding, pushing tourists to opt for other beaches. This is why artisanal fishermen and micro tourism entrepreneurs in coastal communities, who are suffering the consequences of climate change, are trying to find solutions that will allow them to tackle the climate impacts on their livelihoods and adapt to the new reality of their environment.
With support from the IDB and the MIF through its PROADAPT program, MarViva set out to work together with the local communities to analyze what was going on and how to stop it. Risk mapping exercises and risk analyses were carried out for the first time in Panama, to study the rise in sea levels and the effects on critical productive activities for the coastal population, such as fishery and tourism. In addition, the socio-economic situation of the population was analyzed to see who were most affected and why, and where were they located. This was coupled with training for local entrepreneurs on how to interpret information about climate and its impacts.
The innovation of risk analysis through the geographic information system (GIS) has allowed the local fishery and micro-tourism sectors to reach greater awareness of their environment and of climate change impacts, and has convinced them of the need to implement certain soft adaptive measures. The initiative has actively integrated these local communities in the identification and implementation of solutions on the ground. This participatory approach has lent a sense of empowerment to a sector that is usually vulnerable, weak, and excluded from a proactive management of the natural resource on which it depends.
As a result of the participatory process, several adaptation strategies have been identified that nine fishing groups representing 192 families will now try to implement. One strategy is to generate more value-added by introducing a differentiated “responsible” fishery product, . The idea is to establish and manage alliances with corporate buyers who are willing to recognize the value of responsible fishing. Another strategy is to strengthen the organizational capabilities of the local artisanal fishing associations and come up with community contingency plans. In the tourism area, seven tourist groups representing a total of 112 families have identified additional strategies for their sector. One strategy plans to diversify the tourism products and introduce and promote new experiences, such as: The Turtle Path, Awakening of Gulf of Montijo Birds and Coiba Biodiversity and History. This includes capacity building and organizational strengthening of groups of tourism entrepreneurs involved in the new activities. Another strategy is to implement training for the tourism groups to teach them how to interpret weather forecasts and develop community contingency plans.
This is one of many projects on climate change adaptation that the IDB is supporting to increase resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean and to ensure the region is capable of responding to the pressing challenges of this phenomenon. This week, representatives from MarViva and private and public sector institutions will gather at AdaptAmericas in Panama to share experiences and exchange knowledge, in the hopes of identifying innovative tools and practices that can be applied to their own contexts.
*This blog was written in collaboration with Vicente del Cid, Responsible Markets Manager in MarViva.
MarViva promotes the incorporation of climate change criteria in the implementation of initiatives for environmental sustainability and social progress, through the application of soft adaptive measures, to improve the resilience of productive activities and to guarantee food security and subsistence for vulnerable families in coastal areas of the Gulf of Montijo.
PROADAPT was launched in 2013 by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in partnership with the Nordic Development Fund to improve climate resilience among small and medium enterprises and to foster business opportunities to provide climate resilience solutions, or products and services that help buyers to reduce or transfer their vulnerability to climate risks.