Two cattle herders hike through the Peruvian high Andes with a group of alpacas. Two cattle herders hike through the Peruvian high Andes with a group of alpacas.

Climate, environment, management of natural resources: Equipping people and the environment to face climate change

GIZ is committed to protecting ecosystems and biodiversity in the High Andes – using local initiatives and global funding.

© GIZ / Thomas J. Müller
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Climate change has long been a reality in the High Andes of Peru and Ecuador: the glaciers are melting, droughts and floods are on the increase. Together with local partners, GIZ is working to equip the population and ecosystems to face climate change. Money from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – the world’s largest fund for climate protection – is also being put to use.

Ecuador’s capital, Quito, suffers frequent power cuts. The population is sometimes without electricity for up to seven hours a day. This is because power is mainly supplied by hydroelectric plants – and these are increasingly at a standstill. The reason for this is that the country’s largest wetland reservoirs – the ecosystems of the High Andes – are coming under increasing pressure from climate change and agriculture. The consequences are far-reaching. In addition to electricity, drinking water is also in short supply. People are unable to irrigate their fields sufficiently and the unique biodiversity of the High Andes is under threat.

Since 2020, GIZ has been working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to protect and rebuild the ecosystems of the High Andes. These efforts are paying off. A new water protection area covering 4,500 hectares has been created and a further 1,800 hectares are currently being renatured. GIZ is working with the Ecuadorian Government as well as with local communities and smallholders. All are being encouraged to protect water catchment areas and restore damaged land, because such challenges can only be overcome by working together. ‘It is absolutely crucial to raise people’s awareness of the importance of our ecosystems – both in the communities and at government level,’ says Freddi Aguiaza, Technical Director at the Ministry of Environment in Azogues. ‘Only by working hand in hand can we recover, preserve and nurture our natural resources.’

The ecosystem of the High Andes in Ecuador – a green and fertile landscape.


Ecuador: nature conservation through local initiatives

Sections of the population of Ecuador live in the High Andes, where they herd alpacas and cattle and practise agriculture and livestock farming. For these people, the ecosystems are their home, their workplace and their livelihood. Any nature conservation work that fails to involve the farmers, smallholders and local production communities is therefore almost impossible, since everything depends upon their agreement to vacate the ecosystems. To make this work, GIZ is supporting people in switching to more climate-friendly and sustainable sources of income and production, with a focus on local products such as milk, alpaca wool, quinoa and honey. ‘We have benefited enormously from the changes,’ says Manuel Pichazaca, farmer and President of the Quilloac Cooperative. ‘We’ve adapted our production and are increasingly focused on nature conservation and animal welfare. Thanks to this approach, not only have our resources recovered, we’ve also improved production.’ It is a similar story for many of the 1,600 or so smallholder farmers with whom GIZ works. Having reorganised their production, they are now increasing productivity – and at the same time making a vital contribution to protecting the ecosystems.

A Peruvian farmer at work in her vegetable plot in the High Andes.

© GIZ / Diego del Rio

Peru: pooling global financial resources

In neighbouring Peru, GIZ is also supporting the population and the ecosystems of the High Andes in the fight against climate change. Local communities can now use resources from a new fund to restore wetlands, highland pastures and water supply points. The goal is also to attract investors to this fund from the private sector, so that resources will be available to protect ecosystems in the long term.

The project receives 50% of its funding from the GCF. The other half is provided by BMZ with two Peruvian state partners. The Canadian Government also makes a financial contribution. ‘It is the only GCF-funded project that deals with adaptation to climate change in the High Andes,’ explains Project Manager Peter Hauschnik. ‘And we attach great importance to actively involving both the indigenous population and women in the planning, development and implementation of our measures.’

GIZ received accreditation to apply for funding for projects from the GCF in 2016. In October 2023, the GCF approved the accreditation for a further five years. The project in Peru is the first to get the green light in this new phase.

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