The Comca’ac Indigenous Community – National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Mexico)

This project opened the possibility to create a space, a structure and a methodology so that the different levels of governance, non-governmental organizations, academies and community can develop capacities to coordinate actions that benefit the people and the ecosystems



The Goal

Implementing a communitarian development plan in Comca’ac, a Seri indigenous community with continental, coastal and insular ecosystems.

This project aimed to design a development plan that included social participation as a climate change adaptation approach for the localities of El Desemboque de los Seris and Punta Chueca, in Sonora State, Mexico, where 900 indigenous people live.

Using the Climate Change Adaptation Program (PACC, the acronym in Spanish) and the Diagnosis and Communitarian Planning of Comca’ac, it was found that anthropogenic pressures (such as unsustainable fishing) along with climate change pressures to marine resources might affect Punta Chueca and El Desemboque de los Seris. This is mainly because of a lack of economic diversification and high fishing dependency. At the same time, there is a lack of prevention against natural disasters, which makes these localities even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This vulnerability can be reduced if adaptation actions are implemented. Therefore, we are trying to achieve a sustainable way of fishing and also support local groups in order to get better response and understanding from the community. In this way, the communities will be locally prepared for the climate change effects, even in the short-term.



The Solution

We hosted workshops to teach climate change concepts using language that the members of the community could understand, and using analogies and examples related to their culture and lived experiences.

Even though the Comca’ac community had vaguely heard the words “climate change”, they did not know its concepts or its effects. It turned out that even though the people did not know the theory, they understood what we were talking about because of the link made with their life experiences.

In 2015, 61 community meetings were held. Highlights from these meetings include:

  • Incorporation of 13 new conservations targets (CT) to the PACC
  • A link was made between the conservation targets and human wellbeing
  • All the threats identified on the PACC were ratified and new ones were included (such as mining and hunting)
  • Challenges and threats were prioritized, and solutions were identified
  • The vulnerable places of each locality were identified in urban and rural maps
  • Timelines were made in order to determine the social, economic, historical and political important events for each locality; the use or disuse of natural resources and the extreme climate events were also included
  • Communitarian projects with gender perspective were made
  • 9 of 15 PACC’s strategies were endorsed



The Results

The Comca’ac community is actively participating in the design of the Communitarian Development Plan for Climate Change Adaptation (PDCACCC, the acronym in Spanish), with 115 persons from Punta Chueca (68 women and 47 men) and 81 persons from El Desemboque de los Seris (53 women and 28 men).

Of this, 93 represent heads of local groups or families of the 128 that exist. Overall, 52.7% of the adult population of this community is participating on the design of this PDCACCC. Also, 23 different governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations and local groups, together with personnel from CONANP headquarters, Islas del Golfo de California (Sonora and Baja California) and from the Biosphere Reserve Isla San Pedro Mártir and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are collaborating.

In both localities, we held a fair, “Opportunities to bring the community Comca’ac closer”, in which 19 different governmental institutions participated, an unprecedented event. During the fairs:

  • The results of every workshop were presented
  • The importance of the gender approach was highlighted
  • The strategies that the community supported were announced



Insider Tip

  • There are few cases of multi-sectorial projects in this region due to lack of dialogue and negotiation spaces. This project opened the possibility to create a space, a structure and a methodology so that the different levels of governance, NGO’s, academies and community can develop capacities to coordinate actions that benefit the people and the ecosystems.
  • This communitarian development approach has enriched the existing PACC, which contains conceptions of conservation targets that were not embraced by the Comca’ac’s culture. Some of the workshops discussions and debates got a lot of attention from the community and led the way for a communication path with them that was previously non-existent.





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