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The IPCC has predicted that the Amazon rainforest will suffer strong consequences from a changing climate in the near future. The Amazon countries still have limited national policies on how to adapt and have failed to cooperate to promote adaptation plans at the regional level. Most studies have focused on adaptation policies at a local or national level, but overlook how these interact with the necessary regional cooperation required in transboundary ecosystems. This article assesses regional and national plans for climate adaptation in Amazonia, asking whether these provide a basis for regional adaptation policies. Have countries addressed climate adaptation in their NDCs and are there any synergies between countries? Are the Amazon countries currently implementing adaptation policies through the regional framework Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, and if so how? The analysis is then contrasted with the regional adaptation policies promoted in Central America, a region that faces similar challenges. The analysis finds that regional adaptation governance in the Amazon region is still incipient, and requires a holistic view that integrates a multi-stakeholder approach to climate adaptation. This article makes a vital contribution to the impact and contribution of Amazonia to climate governance, which is still poorly understood.

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  1. For example, Venezuela cited the National Plan for Social and Economic Development (Plan de Desarrollo Económico y Social de la Nación) (Venezuela 2017). Ecuador noted the country was undergoing a process of formulating its National Climate Change Plan (PNCC) for 2015–2018, which would prioritize the water sector. The plan has yet to be launched. However, Ecuador developed a 2012–2025 National Strategy of Climate Change, as well as the 2013–2017 Plan Nacional of Buen Vivir, which includes climate change considerations (Ecuador 2015).

  2. “IWRM is a process which promotes the co-ordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.” (Hassing et al. 2009).

  3. The IWRM strategies are based on the Dublin Principles presented at the 1992 UNCED.

  4. See, e.g., (OTCA 2011, OTCA 2012a, b, c, 2013a, b, c, 2015).

  5. The Ministerial Declaration from the World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000 defined water security as …ensuring that freshwater, coastal and related ecosystems are protected and improved; that sustainable development and political stability are promoted, that every person has access to enough safe water at an affordable cost to lead a healthy and productive life, and that the vulnerable are protected from the risks of water-related hazards (WWC 2000).

  6. Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana (SICA).

  7. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and the Dominican Republic.

  8. CCAD leads the Regional Agreement on Climate Change, signed in 1993 by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

  9. Estrategia Regional para el Cambio Climático (ERCC).

  10. See (Tigre 2016) for a perspective on comparative regional climate mitigation initiatives.

  11. See also Table 7 at page 19 for a summary of the existing legal instruments.

  12. Transboundary waters management includes the Guaraní Aquifer Agreement (2001, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay); the treaty for the exploitation of shared water resources contained in the border reaches of the River Uruguay and its effluent the Pepiri-Guazu (1980, Argentina–Brazil); the protocol on protection of resources shared by Argentina and Chile (1991, Argentina–Chile); the supplementary agreement on water resource cooperation (1975, Brazil–Uruguay) and the agreements relating to Lake Titicaca (Bolivia–Peru) (Partnership 2016).



Amazon Cooperation Treaty, or Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica


Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, or Organización del Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica


Central American Commission on Environment and Development


Regional Committee of Hydraulic Resources, or Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos


Global Water Partnership


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Integrated water resources management


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


National Adaptation Plan


Nationally Determined Contribution


Plan Nacional de Adaptacíon al Cambio Climático


Strategic Action Program


Central American Integration System, or Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana


Amazon Socio-environmental Georeferenced Information Network


Regional strategy for climate change


Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis


United Nations Environment Program


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The author would like to thank Meg Cirilo, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University’17, for her research assistance. This article was originally presented at “The Emerging Complexity of Climate Adaptation Governance in a Globalising World,” a workshop organized by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The author would like to thank SEI, in particular Richard Klein, Åsa Persson, and Adis Dzebo, for organizing such an invaluable exchange of knowledge on climate adaptation, as well as all of the participants for the helpful comments and ideas provided.

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Correspondence to Maria Antonia Tigre.

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Tigre, M.A. Building a regional adaptation strategy for Amazon countries. Int Environ Agreements 19, 411–427 (2019).

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