Climate Change Adverse Impacts In Central America

…impacts disproportionally affect the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in societies, it is imperative that these groups are empowered and involved in all stages of planning, decision-making and implementation of measures to tackle climate change.” (UN General Assembly, 2009)


Observed impacts of climate change in Central America are increases in temperature, sea-level rise and climate variability, including extreme events. If extreme sea surface temperatures are to continue, the IPCC informs, it is possible that the Mesoamerican coral reef will collapse by mid-century. Atlantic and Pacific Central American coasts also have the highest proportion (40%) of mangrove species in the planet threatened with extinction.

The poorest Central American populations, the IPCC Report continues, risk food security. Warming conditions, combined with more variable rainfall, are expected to reduce maize, bean and rice productivity, cereals composing nearly 90% of Central American agricultural production for internal consumption. Levels of vulnerability to climate change in Central America are highly conditioned by poverty levels in the region, which remain as high as 45%, still displaying high and persistent inequality. Climatic changes in poorest regions are negatively affecting human health and exacerbating future risks due to vulnerabilities in existing food, health, water, sanitation and waste collection systems, besides problems of  malnutrition, air, soil and water pollution, lack of social participation and inadequate governance.  According to the IPCC, Central American citizens and governments face the challenge of building a new governance model, where imperative development needs, vulnerability reduction and adaptation strategies to climate stresses are truly intertwined.

According to the Panamanian government, the most obvious climate change impact in the country will be the gradual and permanent flooding of the lower lands, which form most of Panamanian territory (70%). At this preliminary stage in the investigation, it worries that the government of Panama considers vulnerability, in official documents so far revised, to be solely related to climate –a function of the exposure to climatic factors-, definition which does not acknowledge the existing correlation between vulnerability and poverty.

LINKS (video about threatened mangrove forest in El Salvador)

Panamá – Segunda Comunicación Nacional (spanish)


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