Human beings and the organization of society represent key entry points for carrying out the Climate Smart Territories (CST) approach promoted by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center) – an institution where decades of experience and commitment in the field have resulted in an integral vision for work in the territories.
CSTs are defined as the social and geographical spaces where actors collaboratively manage ecosystem services to equitably improve human well-being. They do so by continuously optimizing land use as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. This definition comes from the book Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, in the chapter titled “Climate Smart Territories (CST): An integrated approach to food security, ecosystem services, and climate change in rural areas”.
This chapter brings together contributions from researchers and implementers in CATIE as well as strategic partners in Colombia. The main objective of the chapter is to clearly explain the importance of the CSTs, their key elements and characteristics, as well as the way they differ in comparison to other territorial management approaches. The article presents clear examples of CSTs that have been carried out and are in the process of implementation in Huila, Colombia, and the Central American region, where the Mesoamerican Agro-Environmental Programme (MAP) works in the Trifinio and NicaCentral area.
Bastiaan Louman, leader of CATIE’s Climate Change and Watershed Programme, coordinated the elaboration of the article, and understands in great depth the essential aspects that need to be recognized in the CST approach; among them, that each farm or forest is part of something larger, making collaborative actions fundamental.
“The CST approach gives great importance to the organization of society, so that everything feels like part of the territory,” Louman stated. He explained that through CATIE’s experience working in the field, it has been possible to see how the CSTs have helped to emphasize governance factors and the growth of people’s capacities to analyze their situation, and define answers to problems that they find and face through mutual contributions. The farmer field schools (FFS), the systematization of experiences, applied and collaborative research and the multi-stakeholder platforms are key elements in this process of strengthening capacities.
“Capacities that combine technical and local knowledge need to be strengthened, but also, the organizational part needs to be strengthened so that in the future, residents will be able to respond to new challenges, such as the ones faced every day with more force and frequency due to climate change,” added Louman.
In the example of the work being carried out by CATIE/MAP in the Trifinio and NicaCentral region many constructive results have evolved from local level collaborations with the farmers, learning in conjunction with researchers, change agents, and producers, and making use of established local and regional platforms. These processes have strengthened the capacities that are needed to address critical issues at different geographical scales (such as ecosystem services) as well as increasing climate-smart practices.
Together with the previous example and the work in Huila, the authors suggest that the regions and places that want to implement the CST approach can do it. However, they must keep in mind that one of the first steps to do so should be to strengthen the community resolve so that the required changes can take place. This implies the need for joint planning, monitoring and leadership; negotiation mechanisms; and, the use of systems to generate and share information related to climate, natural resources, etc.
Traducción: Mary Coffman
Fotografía: Maicon Barrera