Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation
Ecosystem management and restoration can be a very important part of climate change adaptation, and communities can play a central role in the process, but the evidence base needs strengthening. IIED and partners are working in 12 countries to promote effective EbA and sustainable development.
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and promote sustainable development.
Like community-based adaptation (CBA) it has people at its centre, and it uses participatory, culturally appropriate ways to address challenges, but there is a stronger emphasis on ecological and natural solutions.
We believe EbA has great potential to increase people's resilience and ability to adapt, but it's being overlooked in national and international policy processes.
This project aims to show climate change policymakers when and why EbA is effective – the conditions under which it works, and the benefits, costs and limitations of natural systems compared to options such as hard, infrastructural approaches – and promote the better integration of EbA principles into policy and planning.
Field-based EbA projects are proliferating. IUCN, for example, has implemented 100 projects that directly and/or indirectly contribute towards climate change mitigation and adaptation across 109 countries. But to decide on how best to approach design and implementation, we need better consolidated, empirical, comparative analysis of their effectiveness.
Increasingly, countries are developing their own policy responses, such as National Adaptation Plans and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), while international policy guidance on adaptation is emerging through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other multilateral processes.
The international and national architecture for financing adaptation is also being developed. We need learning on EbA effectiveness to inform these responses.
In January 2017, Hannah Reid reviewed the international policy environment and key project activities to that date, arguing that for the policy community to realise EbA's real potential as a viable response for climate vulnerable communities, knowledge gaps on how it works, when and why needed to be plugged.
What is IIED doing?
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' in Asia, Africa and Central and South America.
Working with local partners, the project will gather practical evidence, explore opportunities for and obstacles to uptake, and develop policy recommendations on EbA.
Between 2015 and 2019 we worked with partners and developed country-specific policy recommendations in Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Peru. We synthesised findings on EbA effectiveness, the first-ever global scale synthesis based on perceptions and a participatory approach that engaged hundreds of local stakeholders.
We also produced practical guidance in the form of an inventory of tools, the EbA Tools Navigator, available on the Friends of EbA website. The navigator is designed to help practitioners and policymakers incorporate EbA into climate adaptation planning
Between 2020 and 2022, project partners will build on evidence and lessons learnt from the 12 countries to scale up EbA implementation in China, Peru, South Africa, and Uganda. Based on users’ demands, we will also develop a web-based EbA Tools Navigator to make it more assessable.
We have continued to communicate our findings and recommendations at key international events and through relevant platforms and networks such as the Nairobi Work Programme.
Please see the additional resources below for more information on some of our activities in key international events.
Click on the icons on the map at the top of this page to see what our partners in 12 countries are doing. You can also view our pages focusing on country work from the collection homepage.
Global recognition of the importance of nature-based solutions to the impacts of climate change
Publication, 14 May 2020
A Framework for Assessing the Effectiveness of Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Adaptation
Publication, 01 May 2018
Project flyer. Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy
Publication, 01 November 2015
Nature-based solutions: delivering national-level adaptation and global goals
Publication, 01 November 2018
Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy. Research overview and overarching questions
Publication, 01 May 2016
Is ecosystem-based adaptation effective? Perceptions and lessons learned from 13 project sites
Publication, 01 June 2019
Ecosystem-based adaptation: a win–win formula for sustainability in a warming world?
Publication, 01 July 2016
FEBA Discussion Paper. Shared goals – joined-up approaches? Why action under the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 needs to come together at the landscape level
Publication, 01 December 2016
Ecosystem-based adaptation: Question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness
Publication, 01 May 2017
Making ecosystem-based adaptation effective: a framework for defining qualification criteria and quality standards
Publication, 01 May 2017
Blog: Lessons from a fruitful journey: seven years of EbA research and action, by Xiaoting Hou Jones (May 2022)
Podcast: Make Change Happen episode 14: Walking the talk of climate ambition – why that walk needs nature too (November 2021)
Nature-based solutions in action: lessons from the frontline, Xiaoting Hou Jones, Dilys Roe, Ebony Holland (2021), Case study
Blog: Working with nature to manage water resources in a changing climate, by Xiaoting Hou Jones and Eve Allen (2021)
Blog: Building wider support for ecosystem-based adaptation: how can communications help?, by Gabriela Flores (2021)
Storymap: Ecosystem-based adaptation in watersheds (2021)
Video: Nature-based solutions, from local to global (February 2021)
Storymap: Ecosystem-based adaptation and green recovery: building back better from COVID-19 (2020), Friends of EBA
Photos and video: How has ecosystem-based adaptation helped communities respond to COVID-19? (2020)
Blog: CBA14: explore with us how nature-based solutions support local action for adaptation, by Charlotte Hicks and Lisa Hunsinger (2020)
Ecosystem-based Adaptation Tools Navigator tutorial (PDF) | en français (PDF) | en español (PDF)
Nature-based solutions policy platform – interactive online policy platform on nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation
Event: IIED and partner events at COP23 (2017)
Event: 11th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA11), which focused on harnessing natural resources and ecosystems for adaptation (2017)
Poster: Improving access to tools for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (2017)
Event: IIED and partner events at COP22 (2016)
CBA9 conference proceedings, Hannah Reid, Masroora Haque, Patrick Kirkby, Erin Roberts, Alexander Stubbings, Penny Urquhart, Casey Williams, Morgan Williams, Trudi Zundel (2015), Event Report
IIED is the project leader and works closely with IUCN and UNEP-WCMC on research methodology, and project dissemination and policy engagement at the international level. IIED take the lead on in-country work with local partners in Bangladesh, Kenya, China and South Africa.
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) takes the the lead on in-country work through regional and country-office staff in Nepal, Senegal, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
UNEP-WCMC have a particular focus on developing practical guidance on integrating effective EbA measures into policy planning, and presenting project results to the UNFCCC and at other international events.
In-country partners lead on action research/learning activities at existing EbA project sites, and are helping to make the case for EbA in national and sub-national climate change and development policy and planning processes. In addition to IUCN country and regional offices, in-country partners include the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Adaptation Consortium, Conservation South Africa and Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (Peru).
This project is part of the 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.