Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA)

Man betweet mangroves seedlings

Ecosystems provide important services to the humans that live in them: they can maintain soil fertility, for example, ensure a supply of clean water and protect against flooding or erosion. These ecosystem services help to improve the resilience of local populations to the consequences of climate change and thereby reduce the extent of these impacts. 

Within the funding area ‘Preserving and restoring natural carbon sinks’, landscape-based approaches supplement the EbA approaches used. Many projects in the ‘Conservation of biological diversity’ funding area are also relevant for adaptation and include ecosystem-based approaches. 

A focus on impacts for humans 

The concept of ecosystem-based adaptation encompasses the protection and usage of biodiversity in order to increase the adaptability of humans to the impacts of climate change. Oriented on humans, ecosystem-based adaptation is an approach that treats natural resources as supplementing other kinds of adaptation measures. 

This approach looks explicitly at current and future changes to the climate, and highlights their impacts on people and ecosystems. In this way, ecosystem-based adaptation differs from the conventional approaches taken to the management of natural resources and biodiversity. 

Cost-efficient adaptation 

Ecosystem-based measures are effective in many different ways. Beyond their immediate benefits for adaptation, they also offer many other advantages in terms of income, security of supply and well-being for the people affected by the consequences of climate change. Often, EbA also enables comparatively cost-effective adaptation options, since the costs for ecosystem restoration are frequently lower than for technical solutions that aim to increase adaptability by the same magnitude. 

In the field, EbA must be part of a wide-ranging adaptation strategy and should be integrated proactively into existing planning processes, such as those for land usage. Specific measures here include improved management, for example, as well as the protection or rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coral reefs. If these ecosystems are stable, they protect coastal areas from more powerful storms as well as the consequences of sea level rise. 

Accounting for the effects of EbA measures 

Measures for ecosystem-based adaptation may call for far-reaching decisions, such as when protected habitats limit the usage of resources. Accordingly, risk assessments, scenario planning and the management of adaptation measures must therefore form part of decision-making, in order to identify and properly account for impacts. 

The IKI funds projects that trial specific ecosystem-based adaptation measures in the field, and then process and disseminate the findings obtained. Practical experience of the effects of ecosystem-based adaptation measures and their cost/benefit ratio compared with other adaptation measures is also applied to develop the ecosystem-based adaptation model further. The NAP process serves as a framework here for the upscaling and mainstreaming of tried-and-tested ecosystem-based approaches in national, subnational and cross-sectoral planning/budgeting processes. 

The Federal Ministry for the Environment and the many EbA project partners apply the knowledge thereby generated to international negotiation processes, and pursue the goal of establishing nature-based solutions (NbS) and ecosystem-based measures as effective solutions for adaptation. IKI projects focusing on ecosystem-based adaptation have significantly raised the profile of this topic in the negotiations for both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Articles on the topic

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Ecosystem-based adaptation in Viet Nam

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Developing a collaborative roadmap for EbA in India and Guatemala

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The role of communities in making ecosystem-based adaptation

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Nature-based solutions for climate resilience receive €10 million boost

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Building wider support for EbA

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