PROAmazonia - Utilizing forest conservation and sustainable production practices to address climate change and strengthen local livelihoods in Ecuador

Area characterisation: 

Ecuador is recognized globally as a mega-diverse country with more than 60% of the country covered by undisturbed natural ecosystems and 1/3 of the land area is formally protected. It is home to 12.6 million hectares of native forests with ¾ located in the Amazon region, with more than 2 million people who depend on them and land for their livelihoods. Ecuador formally recognizes the rights of nature in its constitution (2008) and has numerous public policies and initiatives to protect forests, biodiversity and associated environmental services. The National Development Plan (2017-2022) established deforestation reduction targets; while the REDD+ National Action Plan (2016) defines policies and measures to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The REDD+ Action Plan requires several national and international efforts for its implementation. As such, the Government of Ecuador is implementing enabling policies and instruments to ensure REDD+ implementation is successful and sustainable over time. PROAmazonia is one of the initiatives that directly contributes to national requirements identified in the REDD+ Action Plan. The National Climate Change Strategy identifies the LULUCF sector as a priority for mitigation actions and the NDC, recently presented to the UNFCCC, defines reduction targets through the implementation of the REDD+ Action Plan (2016-2025) through a conditional scenario of 16% and unconditional of 4% compared to the 2000-2008 National Forest Reference Emissions Level. 

Objective: 

PROAmazonia is an ambitious, five-year collaborative initiative to transform the agriculture and forestry sectors in the Amazon region to more sustainable management and production practices. It is an inclusive, cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder initiative seeking a just transition to sustainable land-use practices to significantly reduce deforestation and restore degraded ecosystems, improve the livelihoods of some of the most impoverished communities in Ecuador, and establish viable economic markets for sustainably produced, deforestation-free products. 

Actions: 

Reduction in carbon emission and carbon capture (GTonnes). The LULUCF sector is the second largest GHG emitter after the Energy Sector with a 25,35% of contribution according to the National GHG Inventory (MAE, 2012). Interventions implemented and strengthened by PROAmazonia will reduce CO2 emissions by 15 million tons between 2016 and 2025. 

Increasing climate resilience: PROAmazonia will strengthen resilience to the effects of climate change by reducing forest loss and by protecting and restoring forest 1 REDD+ Readiness phase 3 ecosystems, strengthening resilience of local communities through diversified income sources and implementation of sustainable land management practices, which reduce negative impacts from extreme weather events resulting from climate change. 

Social impact (job increase; poverty reduction; Just transition, etc.): The project will have significant positive social impact in communities with high-poverty rates by generating increased family income from improved production and access to incentives for sustainable land practices and green credits to support new bio-enterprises to commercialize in specialized markets. PROAmazonia utilizes a gender sensitive approach and applies the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all project activities. Communities are supported and enabled to make a just transition to sustainable practices, ensuring no-one is left behind.

Net economic impact (total in US$; how was it achieved?): Over its 6-year timeframe, PROAmazonia will invest $53 million directly and $92 million in co-financing, which will benefit one million people in a direct and indirect manner, resulting in a 10% increase in household income for small-scale producers, this will be achieved through increased production from existing agricultural areas and establishing access to international markets seeking sustainable and deforestation-free products and supply chains.

Impact on realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (in particular SDGs 1,2,6,12,13,14,15,16): Measures implemented through PROAmazonia and accompanied by private sector investment and ongoing support from the national government advance the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, specifically in relation to SDGS: 1. no poverty; 5. gender equity; 6. clean water; 12. responsible production and consumption; 13. climate action; 15. life on land and; 16. Justice and strong institutions. 

Food security: The Agenda for Transforming Production in the Amazon Region (ATPA), supports beneficiaries to establish Farm Integrated Management Plans (IMP) and seeks to transform 300,000 hectares of grassland to traditional systems (chakra and Ajashuar); semi-intensive and intensive agroforestry systems, silvo-pastoral systems and forestry systems.

Minimising species extinction and ecological losses and fostering an increase of biodiversity: By improving agricultural practices and reducing expansion of the agricultural and livestock frontier, PROAmazonia will minimize ecological losses through deforestation, to reinforce environmental and social co-benefits ensuring the Amazon forest continues to support an amazing array of biological diversity.

Potential impacts/benefits: 

In 2018, PROAmazonia achieved the following milestones:  Ecosystem Protection: 157,000ha of native forest protected under long-term conservation agreements, through of Socio Bosque program;  Watershed Protection: Established four new Municipal Hydrological Protected Areas covering 136,000 ha for long-term watershed conservation; 2  Forest Restoration: Restoration of 2,447 hectares in the southern dry forest, including active replanting and fencing from stock as well as allowing for natural regeneration processes;  Sustainable Land Management Practices: 5,022 small producers signed agreements to implement sustainable land management practices. To date, the total of hectares under agreements is 15,066;  Capacity Development: 830 people (55% men, 45% women) from Amazon communities received training to strengthen their capacities and knowledge of conservation, restoration and climate change, and;

Preliminary data for the period 2014-2016 shows that Ecuador is reducing its deforestation faster than in the previous period, corresponding to a GHG emissions reduction of approximately 5.2MtCO2eq per year for the 2014-2016 period.

NBS benefits 
  • Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience
  • Flood peak reduction
  • Increase infiltration / Water storage
  • Increasing infiltration
  • Reduce drought risk
  • Reduce flood risk
  • Reduce load to sewer system
  • Reduce run-off
  • Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale
  • Developing climate change mitigation
  • Carbon sequestration and storage
  • Restoring ecosystems and their functions
  • Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
  • Creation of green jobs relating to construction & maintenance of NBS
  • Improve air quality
  • Improve water quality
  • Increase awareness of NBS solution & their effectiveness and co benefits
  • Increase communities’ sense of ownership
  • Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
  • Increase well-being
  • Provision of health benefits
  • Social learning about location & importance of NBS
Transferability of the result: 

The Project is currently being implemented in six Amazon provinces of Ecuador. It is highly replicable in other Amazon regions and other Latin American countries as well as other regions where there is a high economic and social dependency on agricultural production in and adjacent to tropical forests. Lessons learned in relation to project implementation, governance and monitoring will be documented and shared widely to support knowledge transfer and guide sustainable transformation initiatives in other regions. 

Financing: 

The project is financed with $53 million USD from GCF and GEF and co-financing of $92 million USD from MAE and MAG and other partners, along with additional in-kind support and partnership-agreements with a number of institutional, academic and community collaborators. The project governance structure requires collaborative decision-making for project implementation between the implementing agencies (MAE, MAG) and UNDP-Ecuador. 

Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 15. Life On Land
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals