11 Nov 2011

A review of the evidence on the effectiveness of ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation

By Adrian Long

View the Research Highlights PDF Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation (EbA) integrate the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall strategy for helping people adapt to climate change. To date, however, insight into these approaches has often been based on anecdotal case studies of local people’s use of ecosystems. Although they are informative, they can provide rather limited insight in terms of measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of EbA, especially compared with technical or structural adaptation measures. A new, systematic review of EbA evidence has been carried out to interrogate the scientific literature and review studies from around the world, from many different ecosystems and adopting a wide range of adaptation approaches utilising ecosystems. We conclude that EbA approaches are effective and deserve greater policy attention and political support to reach their full potential. Key messages 1.Existing evidence suggests that EbA is an effective approach to adaptation that deserves more policy support. 2.EbA is not a novel approach – lots can be learnt from traditional practices in natural resource management and agro-ecology that long precedes any political interest in climate change. 3.More reflexive research is needed to inform where EbA could be improved, understand what the thresholds and limits for EbA effectiveness are, and get to grips with the financial costs and benefits. 4.While researchers can address research gaps, policy makers also need to step up to the mark through adaptation policies, including National Adaptation Programmes of Action and National Adaptation Plans (NAPAs and NAPs), and projects that recognise the importance of ecosystems and their monitoring to facilitate ‘learning by doing’. The authors of the Research Highlights: Robert Munroe, BirdLife International Nathalie Doswald, UNEP-WCMC Dilys Roe, IIED Hannah Reid, IIED Alessandra Giuliani, IIED Ivan Castelli, UNEP-WCMC Iris Möller, Cambridge University View the Research Highlights PDF