Ecosystem Management

Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation

Mekong Floods 2008
Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation, or Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) involves a wide range of ecosystem management activities to increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people and the environment to climate change.

Climate change magnifies the existing risks and vulnerabilities associated with disasters, due to changing patterns of some hazards and due to increased population exposure and land-use changes.

Human and natural systems are influenced by climate variability and hazards, with the negative impacts most severely felt in developing countries. Increased climate variability is associated with climatic change, and climate change effects will intensify significantly in the future. Adaptation occurs in physical, ecological and human systems. Adaptation to climate change takes place through reducing vulnerability or enhancing resilience in response to climate change. 

Since 2009, IUCN has promoted the use of EbA as a nature-based solution for addressing the impacts of climate change on people and their environment.

But... what is EbA?

Ecosystem-based adaptation is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Convention on Biological Diversity (2009)

EbA focuses on the benefits humans derive from biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how these benefits can be utilized in the face of climate change. Consequently, EbA is a people-centric concept, but one that acknowledges that human resilience depends critically on the integrity of ecosystems. Yet ecosystem health alone does not guarantee human resilience, so EbA is best implemented as an integrated element of a broader adaptation strategy.

EbA - or the conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of ecosystems to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change - is gaining increasing attention, as such approaches are accessible to the rural poor in developing countries and can be cost-effective. EbA approaches include, for example, coastal habitat restoration, agroforestry, integrated water resource management, livelihood diversification, and sustainable forest management interventions that use nature to reduce vulnerability to climate change.

Why an integrated approach to adaptation?
The ability of people to adapt to climate change is inextricably linked to their access to basic human rights and to the health of the ecosystems they depend on for their livelihoods and wellbeing. If adaptation policies and programs are to be effective, they must integrate efforts to sustain and restore ecosystem functions and promote human rights under changing climate conditions.

The role of ecosystems in adaptation is well-recognized at the international level, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Contact:  Ali Raza Rizvi, Programme Manager, Ecosystem-based Adaptation

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