During the design phase of the full size project, several risks for the success of the project were identified, and critical assumptions formulated that are expected to hold true so the risks are minimized. In general, the risks are relatively low and therefore, the sustainability of the project is high. The risks for the achievement of project objectives and strategies to mitigate these risks are:
A serious worsening in local social and economic conditions The largest risk, and fundamental to achieve long term preservation of Paramo biodiversity, is a serious worsening in local social and economic conditions. This risk is considered of intermediate size. A stronger social organization and a slow but steady macroeconomic growth has been observed in most countries during the last two decades, but also larger social differences between rural and urban populations. The project’s strategy to mitigate this risk is to concentrate on-site activities in areas that are marginal to conflict and weakly connected to national market economies.
An increase in political instability Another risk of intermediate size is an increase in political instability and armed conflicts in the area. Political instability has created an atmosphere of uncertainty in society and the legal frameworks are not applied in practice. This may result in a deterioration of the root causes for threat on Paramo, such as poverty and ill planned economic development policies. The project’s strategy to minimize the risk of conjunctural changes is to work with governments at institutional rather than personal level. Besides, the project involves civil society in every activity and will strengthen key local stakeholders' (local leaders, NGO) participation in alliances. At site level, local farmer groups and NGOs, not vulnerable to conjunctural change, work together with local governmental institutions. At Andean level, the main executing agency is CONDESAN, which as a consortium includes all important Paramo conservation organizations and works in strategic alliance with CAN. In Colombia, PIS are not in areas where armed conflicts are ubiquitous, but the side effect of the present critical political situation as a variable that affects Paramo integrity is considered and this will be analyzed and mitigated in the PMP in Colombian and the respective trans-boundary PIS.
Lack of long term stakeholder interest A risk for achieving the development objective is the lack of long term stakeholder interest in Paramo conservation activities. This risk is considered as being low, because the matters related to Paramo conservation are increasingly receiving attention in the social and political agenda. It is assumed that the level of stakeholder interest in Paramo conservation holds and even increases due to its relation to water regulation. The project’s strategy to ensure stakeholder interest is active participation of local stakeholders and an integral approach, combining biodiversity conservation with water regulation and rural development issues (alternative livelihood options).
Failure in the implementation of the PMP The project assumes sustained support from farmer communities for the execution of management plans as a way to mitigate the risk of failure in the implementation of the PMP. This risk is considered as being low because the experience of local coordinating organizations assures an effective participatory approach by which local farmer communities gain principal ownership of the PMP and together with the supporting NGOs and GOs will develop a strategy for sustainability of the PMP.
Lack of an enabling environment The sustainability of the PMP is further assured if the assumption holds true that governments at different levels create an effective enabling environment for the implementation of the PMP. The risk of a lack of an enabling environment is mostly reduced by an effective execution of component two, but not all aspects are within the project thematic boundaries (local market development, basic education system etc.) It is expected that an effective support on Paramo related policy matters in component two will have its effect on other issues at governmental level as well, creating a broad enabling environment.
Discontinued political commitment A risk for the implementation of national and international policy strategies is the discontinued political commitment of participating countries and of CAN. This is a low risk, because the countries have endorsed the project and will be involved in its execution al all levels. Moreover, the approval of CAN´s D523 by all four counties and the projects strategic relation with this decision, assures political commitment.
A lack of intersectoral coordinationis a risk for the acceptance of codes of conduct for the other sectors. Part of this is controlled by the project because if the set of alternative livelihood options and codes of conduct are economically sustainable, other sectors will be interested by default. Another strategy to reduce this risk is to incorporate all sectors from the start with this project, to raise awareness on Paramo among different sectors as well as to disseminate this information at higher (national and international) levels to influence priority setting among sectors.
Possibility that trained field practitioners leave the Paramo area and increased capacity and awareness is not translated into changes in action The success of the training component and the information and communication components depend on a series of more practical risks, like the possibility that trained field practitioners leave the Paramo area trough migrationor finding jobs at higher levels and the risk that increased capacity and awareness is not translated into changes in action. These risks are low since the design of the project includes a strong participation of local stakeholders who identified the demand of training, information and communication, including awareness raising. The components will closely comply with the demand and will be monitored by the target groups, to mitigate the risk of undirected communication.
Lack of govermental support for formal education strategies The risk that the environmental education programs are ineffective might be caused by a lack of govermental support for formal education strategies. This risk is intermediate because the project can only design the strategy and develop materials, but governmental support is required for its implementation in the education structure. Education ministry functionaries have been involved in the development of the education strategy, for which a good degree of government commitment is expected.
Lack of coordination between agencies and institutions Risks for the success of the replication strategy are the lack of coordination between agencies and institutions whose actions can potentially affect Paramo biodiversity, their willingness to assimilate lessons from the project and their capacity to generate financial support for their activities. The risk of lack of transparency and collaboration between different organizations and initiatives that work in Paramo is low, because in all countries there is at least some experience with establishing and communication within Paramo working groups (GTP) that are designed for this purpose before the present project initiated and that have shown efficiency and continuity in experience interchange especially in Ecuador, Perú and regions in Colombia. The lack of financial sustainability for other actors is intermediate and related to the financial sustainability of the project in general.