By Jennifer Sylvester
Volunteer climate threat advisor
Climate change is a threat to ecosystems the world over. But it has a much greater impact on developing countries where the capacity to adapt to rapidly changing weather patterns is lower. According to scientific research, countries like Colombia are 80 per cent more likely to face the devastating consequences.
The effects of climate change are causing floods, landslides, variations in water supply and impacts on human health in many parts of the country. The Protected Areas that are part of the National Natural Parks System (SPNN) are the most vulnerable ecosystems to these climatic alterations, and the challenge is to increase the capacities for prevention, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
As a Cuso International volunteer, I am supporting National Natural Parks of Colombia as a Climate Threat Advisor for the Management of Protected Areas. The Natural Parks System provides Colombians with a large amount of essential ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, raw food and construction materials, medicines, flood regulation, nutrient cycles, crop pollinations and natural vegetation, climate regulation, recreation and education, among others.
Working with my colleagues, we are increasing the resilience and integrity of ecosystems and providing frontline responders with the tools they need to make quick decisions to mitigate climate disasters.
The results of our work have the potential to benefit the 49.7 million inhabitants of Colombia, particularly those living near or within Protected Areas, including nearly 40 Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. The maintenance of these natural resources in a changing climate is of paramount importance for the sustainable development of Colombia and is a fundamental part of the global response to climate change.
I admire the dedication of my colleagues at National Natural Parks who continue to fight to protect the extensive biodiversity of Colombia. Working with this amazing group has been an incredibly satisfying experience and I believe I’m contributing to important efforts that are improving the lives of vulnerable communities throughout the country.
By the Numbers
Protected Areas in Colombia:
- Provide 25 million people with water.
- Supply 20% of electricity to the country.
- Ensure the survival of 40 Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
- Account for 10% of the world’s biodiversity.