Ecosystems provide services that are essential to human survival. They preserve soil fertility, provide clean water, and prevent flooding and erosion. These services can also help to reduce the impact of climate change on human communities. The EbA concept involves using biological diversity, natural resources and ecosystem services to increase people's capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change. It is a human-centred approach that focuses on natural resource use in addition to or in place of other adaptation measures. Unlike conventional natural resource and biodiversity management approaches, EbA explicitly focuses on current and future changes in climate or their effects on people and ecosystems. EbA measures are often more cost-efficient than other adaptation options. Restoring ecosystems, for instance, is frequently a less expensive but no less effective way of increasing adaptation capacity than applying technical solutions.
In practice, EbA generally forms part of a more comprehensive adaptation strategy and should be integrated proactively into existing planning processes in areas such as land use. Specific measures being carried out include protecting or restoring mangroves and coral reefs and improving their management with the aim of protecting coastal regions from increasingly violent storms and the impacts of rising sea levels. In the process of implementing EbA measures, it can sometimes be necessary to take difficult decisions, for instance when protected areas restrict the use of natural resources. Risk assessments, scenario planning and the management of adaptation measures should therefore be considered in the decision-making process in order to identify and take appropriate account of all possible impacts.
The IKI supports projects that test specific EbA approaches on the ground, analyse the experience gained and disseminate the results. The BMU feeds this experience into international negotiation processes in the context of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Practical experience relating to the impact of EbA measures and their cost-benefit ratios compared with other adaptation measures is extremely valuable in the further development of the EbA concept.