EbA Evidence and Policy: China

July 2015 to December 2022

IIED is working with the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CCAP) to learn from Participatory Plant Breeding and Community Supported Agriculture in Southwest China and develop recommendations to mainstream EbA within climate policy in China.

Maize varieties on display at the ‘Voice of Maize’ event in Mexico 2016 (Photo: CCAP)

Maize varieties on display at the ‘Voice of Maize’ event in Mexico 2016 (Photo: CCAP)

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and promote sustainable development. Between 2015 and 2022, IIED, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) are jointly implementing a project called 'Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy' (EbA Evidence and Policy). Working with local partners in 12 countries, the project aims to gather practical evidence and develop country-specific policy guidance on EbA, and to promote EbA at international level. More information and all the case study sites are available via the main project page

What are we doing in China?

IIED and the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences are working with local communities, provincial governments in Southwest China and the Ministry of Agriculture to gain policy insights from a project that used EbA to help local farming communities to adapt to extreme weather conditions (especially drought) caused by climate change. 

The participatory plant breeding and community supported agriculture project was implemented from 2000 to 2016 in the mountain communities in Yunnan Province and Guangxi Province in Southwest China. Project activities targeted ethnic mountain communities – especially 11 villages in Guangxi Province, and seven in Yunnan Province. 

The project aimed to conserve improved crop varieties – especially maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans – tailored to local conditions (especially drought) using local landraces. It also aimed to conserve crop diversity and resilient landraces for food security and climate adaptation. It worked to link local and formal seed systems through: direct collaboration on participatory plant breeding; raising awareness on the need to conserve landraces for adaptation within formal agricultural research systems; and improving the policy support available for genetically diverse local seed systems and securing farmers’ rights to benefit from these. The project also promoted climate resilient and nutrition sensitive agroecological farming practices by improving links to urban markets.

IIED and CCAP used the EbA Evidence and Policy project’s Framework for Assessing EbA Effectiveness to consult with communities, NGOs, and national and local government staff on their perception of EbA effectiveness. The findings will be combined with those from the 11 other countries to help show climate change policymakers when and why EbA is effective.

Learning from the Chinese participatory plant breeding project demonstrates that EbA can be an effective, financially viable and inclusive way of addressing climate change. But experience also shows that a range of implementation challenges remain. Read more about the learning and recommendations to overcome challenges in the IIED Briefing Reducing climate risk and poverty: why China needs ecosystem-based adaptation

Informing policy

In China the central government is placing increasing emphasis on the resilience of ecosystems and combating climate change, in addition to the long-term priority of poverty alleviation. CCAP is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Provincial governments in Yunan and Guangxi provinces to build linkages between government’s strategies on protecting ecosystems, poverty alleviation and climate change. 

Updates from CCAP

CCAP is collaborating closely with UNEP International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP) in China to disseminate research results and support policy advocacy activities. A joint policy dialogue between the EbA Evidence and Policy project and IEMP is planned for this year. 

In January 2018, CCAP organised the fifth annual farmers’ network meeting on seeds and the 9th conservation agriculture conference. The project findings are shared at those meetings and the participants discussed the importance of EbA in the agriculture sector. 

In January 2017, CCAP organised the fourth annual farmers’ network meeting on seeds. Representatives from local communities, government, research institutions and NGOs shared project and research progress, discussed national and international policy context, and planned for further activities to support participatory plant breeding including its role in climate change adaptation. 

In December 2017, CCAP organised a policy dialogue in Beijing to strategize ways to mainstream and increase investment in participatory plant breeding for improving local seed varieties and strengthen the resilience of agriculture ecosystem and local communities. 

In November 2016, CCAP participated in the ‘Voice of Maize’ event in Mexico where community representatives, researchers and NGOs from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, US and Canada discussed the importance of genetically diverse local seed systems including its important roles in climate change adaptation. 

Additional resources

Nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation, Hannah Reid, Charlotte Hicks, Xiaoting Hou Jones, Valerie Kapos, Ali Raza Rizvi, Sylvia Wicander (2019), IIED Briefing | en español | 中文

Is ecosystem-based adaptation effective? Perceptions and lessons learned from 13 project sites, Hannah Reid, Xiaoting Hou Jones, Ina Porras, Charlotte Hicks, Sylvia Wicander, Nathalie Seddon, Val Kapos, Ali R Rizvi, Dilys Roe (2019), Research report | en español | 中文

Ecosystem-based adaptation: question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness, Hannah Reid, Nathalie Seddon, Edmund Barrow, Charlotte Hicks, Xiaoting Hou- Jones, Ali Raza Rizvi, Dilys Roe, Sylvia Wicander (2017), IIED


International Climate Initiative (IKI)
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports the IKI on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

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