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FEATURE: Project on agriculture, vulnerability and adaptation in Colombia achieves agreement among experts

On March 20 and 21st, CDKN funded project in the Cauca Region held its fourth workshop to identify climate variables and indices to use for vulnerability analysis. The project is studying vulnerability through 4 dimensions: biophysical, productive-economic, political-institutional and socio-cultural. In a previous workshop, participants selected indicators for each component. In this workshop experts discussed and selected the metrics (way of calculating) the information about each indicator.

The nationwide invitation involved Colombia’s most outstanding specialists and researchers on climate, soils, watersheds, water and geographical information systems. The workshop brought together the government, academia, agricultural research institutions, and NGOs to discuss and agree on a methodology to agree to the metrics of each indicator of vulnerability.

Participants represented institutions such as: IDEAM (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia), IGAC (Agustín Codazzi Geographical Institute), DNP (National Planning Department), MADR (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), CENICAFE (National Coffee Research Center), FNC (National Federation of Coffee Growers), Cenicaña (Sugar Cane Research Center), Autonomous Corporations from the Cauca River Valley (CVC), from Quindío, (CRQ), from Caldas (CORPOCALDAS) and from Risaralda (CARDER). From academic circles, researchers attended from the National Universities of Colombia (Medellín and Bogotá campuses), University of the Valley, University of Cauca, University of Caldas and CIAT-DAPA.

This exercise reiterated that climate is not the threat, but rather the associated extreme events: droughts, hailstorms, intense precipitation, and others. An agreement was also reached that climate variables are the same for both cases under analysis: climate change and climate variability. On the basis of this agreement, the development focused on identifying the top priority climatic variables to monitor such events, reaching the agreement that Temperature and Precipitation will be emphasized initially; and they agreed on selection of indicators and indices for analysis. Similarly, they consider it fundamental to define the statistical strategy, whether Downscaling or Upscaling, to generate and analyze the information.

There are two working groups generating climate scenarios for Colombia: IDEAM and CIAT. Their models have similarities, but different information bases and downscaling techniques. It was recommended to take the quality of data used into account. It was proposed to examine IDEAM’s data quality methodology to provide a referent for this issue.

Regarding indicators to analyze vulnerability in the biophysical dimension, the metrics to be used were defined (formula, scale, etc). During the workshop participants also agreed that in order to achieve AVA project goals, it is necessary to collaborate more closely with IGAC, in order to have access to map database, satellite image base and soil information that they have developed. This also applied to the other entities generating data in the region such as IDEAM, CENICAFÉ, CENICAÑA, CARs, CIAT, Smurfit, CIPAV, EPSA, municipal waterworks, energy companies, universities, disaster relief offices, and others.

Finally, this workshop is one more step towards the goal of ascertaining the vulnerability of the Upper Cauca River Valley to extreme climate events. Colombia needs to understand the vulnerability of its agricultural production systems in order to plan for adaptation.

Picture courtesy of Neil Palmer (CIAT). A coffee farm worker in Cauca, southwestern Colombia.

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