Within mountain ecosystems across Latin America, Africa and Asia,
increasing climate variability, gradual glacial melting and more
frequent and intense extreme weather events are negatively affecting the
ability of water cycles to self-regulate. This is leading to increased
water scarcity which is already affecting one in three people worldwide.
This Brief begins by describing the main challenges to providing
sustainable and equitable access to water in the face of climate change
impacts. It then highlights four key strategies being implemented in
Latin America that are improving sustainable water management policy and
practice while also facilitating climate change adaptation. Examples
from across the region and contextual factors that have underpinned
improvements in water management and adaptation provide key lessons to
be considered by other countries and regions.
In Latin America, establishing water legislation and new public
institutions responsible for administering water resources have provided
an adequate basis for implementing new institutional mechanisms to
better face the challenges of climate change adaptation during this
It is vital that scientific research into conservation and sustainable
water use at the sources of water basins in high mountain zones be
included in climate change adaptation planning processes. Latin America
shows how this research can provide important information on local water
capture and storage technologies that have enabled communities to carry
out productive activities over centuries.
Given that climate change impacts in mountain ecosystems are so local in
nature, adaptation strategies for sustainable water resource management
must be developed through participatory processes and incorporate local
knowledge and practices. Vulnerable and marginalized populations must be
adequately represented in order to avoid contributing to social
exclusion and increasing poverty levels. In Latin America, Water Basin
Councils have shown to be a successful mechanism for securing civil
society participation in planning, implementation and monitoring
de la Torre, C. ELLA Policy Brief: Key Advances in Water Management and Climate Change Adaptation in Latin America&#8217;s Mountains. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2012) 6 pp.