Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in high mountainous regions of Central Asia
Title: Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in high mountainous regions of Central Asia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
Lead executing agency: Department of Green Economy at the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan; State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic; Committee for Environmental Protection under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan
Overall term: 2015 to 2019
In the high mountainous regions of Central Asia, the ecosystems are characterised by unique and diverse flora and fauna. They provide the people of the region with clean water, pastureland and forest products, and they protect them against floods and landslides, while maintaining soil fertility. However, climate change is having consequences that, coupled with unwise land use practices, is damaging these fragile ecosystems and reducing their ability to regenerate. The people living in rural areas who depend directly on natural resources need to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, while taking steps to ameliorate those impacts. They must continue to use nature, but without harming the environment.
Ecosystem-based adaptation and other climate adaptation strategies have been successfully tested and integrated into national policies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A common understanding exists regarding the advantages of the ecosystem-based approach to adaptation.
The project is part of the German Government’s International Climate Initiative (IKI). It aims to introduce an ecosystem-based approach to climate adaptation, in which people continue to use natural resources to secure their livelihoods without harming the environment. This will ensure that ecosystems can provide the services important to people’s survival, in the long term. The project is active in two pilot watersheds in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It began its work with comprehensive assessments of the status of the ecosystems most important to local people in the pilot regions, and an analysis of possible developments, taking into consideration different climate change scenarios.
Together with local communities, it is launching innovative processes for adapting livelihoods to climate change. This process involves testing cost-effective strategies and appropriate economic activities, including the efficient use of natural resources alongside efforts to maintain and further develop ecosystem services. This typically involves introducing alternative sources of income and the sustainable management of forests, land and water resources. Based on the progress of the pilot measures, the project will encourage the integration of successful concepts into the national policies being developed by the three countries.
While conducting the pilot measures, the project places a strong emphasis on human capacity building. Among other things, the project carries out studies of international good practice, and it provides training and seminars to familiarise local authorities, public sector institutions and local people with these responses to climate change, and to adapt them to the local environment.
The projects works in close cooperation with a number of local and international partners, including the Central Asian Mountain Partnerships (CAMP) Alatoo and Tabiat, the Mountain Societies Research Institute of the University of Central Asia, the Michael Succow Foundation, the German Research Centre for Geosciences, and UNIQUE Forestry & Land Use GmbH. The project also involves cooperation with WWF US and the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP).
Interactive workshops were held in the two pilot regions of Naryn in Kyrgyzstan and Bartang Valley in Tajikistan. Participants from local villages considered two future climate scenarios, analysed adverse climate impacts on their livelihoods, and proposed measures to help people to adapt to these challenges. A recently established rural initiative group will carry out testing, implementation and monitoring of these measures, even after completion of the project.
A number of capacity building measures focusing on ecosystem-based approaches and the green economy have been completed for the national partner organisations in Kazakhstan. Government officials in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have taken part in consultations on climate, and national government authorities have contributed to international negotiations on climate. This includes the negotiation of their countries’ prospective (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions.
The work of the project emphasises environmental education for children and youth, using ‘citizen science’. In schools in mountain communities, the project has introduced affordable courses in which, for example, teachers and pupils monitor the quality of water in lakes and rivers.