About the project

This project is a collaborative effort by EfD-CA and LACEEP at CATIE, and CEDE at the Universidad de los Andes, with generous financial support from IDRC’s Climate Change and Water program (CCW). It has a dual purpose of promoting research and capacity building on environmental economics of climate change (CC) and water in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC).

Climate change and water issues are closely linked. The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region is not the exception. Climate-change-induced extreme events have exacerbated risks associated to water issues in vulnerable areas of LAC. Weather in the region is dominated by storms that develop along the intertropical convergence zone and the subtropical high-pressure zone. These geographic characteristics generate heavy rainfall in a few days, hurricanes and tropical storms that often lead to heavy flooding.

However, others events such as extreme droughts could also affect other regions and different dimensions of human welfare.

Estimating climate-change induced effects (e.g. changes in water availability and quality, migration, loss in production capability and infrastructure) is a complex task. Assessing most of these social phenomena requires understanding the interactions of several variables of different nature (socioeconomic, biophysical, political, risk analysis, etc.). Furthermore, the amount of uncertainty of how each community or individual will be affected complicate matters significantly and imposes significant barriers to design sound adaptation policies.

In order to address these issues, rigorous economic analysis is required. Environmental economics tools could effectively contribute to addressing some of the questions posted before. An innovative and relevant empirical research agenda is needed to address the linkages between climate change and water, especially at the local level and with emphasis on adaptation measures.

Investment in human capital towards improving environmental economics knowledge in the region will be needed especially for future generations. Although, there are capable research institutions across the region with experienced researchers in the field, their capacity to significantly contribute to solving problems related to climate change is limited by the lack of resources. Providing resources to creating capacity in the region and to conduct high quality research is a strategy that will contribute to the identification of solutions to these problems. This strategy will have long lasting benefits.

This project has a dual purpose of promoting research and capacity building on environmental economics of climate change (CC) adaptation and water in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC). This project aims to strengthen research capacities and produce innovative scientific knowledge to assess the social and economic links among climate change, water and adaptation strategies in LAC.

The specific objectives are:

  •  To identify and prioritize relevant topics, geographic areas and methodologies to address the various dimensions of climate change and water in LAC.
  •  To design and conduct environmental economics research in relation to the prioritized agenda
  •  To enhance the research capacity of junior and experienced environmental economists to address CC and water research.
  •  To advice policy makers and stakeholders on policies and adaptation strategies that could minimize the adverse impacts in water related issues.

The project is composed by three stages that combine research and capacity building activities. The first stage will focus on identifying and defining a research relevant agenda, including prioritized research and policy questions to bridge gaps from the social and economic perspectives, geographical areas of interest as well as potential scientific methods to be used. This process had the scientific backup of researchers and policy makers from different countries of LAC that met from September 30th  to October 1st , 2011 in Panama City. This workshop meeting involved top-level researchers and public decision-makers working on water and climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The work during this international event revolved around establishing facts and projections about climate change and water in LAC to identify possible adaptation measures to extreme events such as precipitation, glaciers retraction, sea level rise, among others. In addition, the socioeconomic dimension of climate change, with emphasis on adaptation measures was discussed extensively.

The inputs from this prioritization are the building stones for the next two stages. The second phase develops five different pilot projects that tackle some of the prioritized scientific research questions proposed in the previous phase. These projects will help to develop and adapt methodologies, and to generate a bundle of research examples to show the different dimensions of the relationship between water and climate change in the region. In the third stage, the research priorities and methodologies proposed in the previous phases will be implemented at different sites and countries across LAC, using LACEEP´s capacity building network as a platform for recruiting highly qualified junior environmental economists, to be able to use scientific backstopping LACEEP resources, and to be able to communicate results to academic audiences as well as policy makers and other relevant stakeholders.