The Ecosystem-based Adaptation, a Nature-based Solution (NbS), targets healthy ecosystems that provide ecosystem services which help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. There is an increasing understanding that EbA can be an optimal adaptation solution, especially where people depend more on ecosystems for their livelihoods. Thus, several organizations and countries are implementing EbA initiatives and integrating them into climate change policies (Seddon et al. 2016a; 2016b).
From all these experiences, a great variety of resources are being generated (or adapted) - tools, methodologies, networks, guidelines - to strengthen the implementation and scaling up of the EbA, and shared with a great purpose: to learn more about what works and what does not.
Effectiveness is key to capitalize on these interventions and lessons from AbE and achieve their rooting in the pillars of sustainable development. Thus, effective EbA is defined as “an intervention that has restored, maintained or enhanced the capacity of ecosystems to produce services. These services in turn enhance the wellbeing, adaptive capacity or resilience of humans, and reduce their vulnerability. The intervention also helps the ecosystem to withstand climate change impacts and other pressures” (Reid et al. 2017, based on Seddon et al. 2016b).
With this definition, and the overall progress in the EbA conceptual framework, it is clear that all our interventions should be effective. A tool to facilitate this analysis is the Question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness on EbA, centered on the analysis of interventions in four dimensions: 1) effectiveness for human societies, 2) effectiveness for ecosystems, 3) economic effectiveness and 4) capacity, institutional and policy factors for effective implementation.
In addition to the reports on the application of the tool in 13 EbA casesm including Peru and Chile, and based on EbA experiences in South America - from an investigation of the protective role of the native forest in Chile against avalanches and landslides; the expansion and conservation of wetlands and the communal management of native prairies in the Peruvian puna; to good practices in agrobiodiversity, and water conservation and management in Ecuador - some lessons are highlighted to promote its effective implementation
-Participatory and holistic design and implementation of interventions, based on the socio-cultural, environmental, economic and political context, aiming at strengthening local livelihoods and ecosystem management at landscape scale.
-Articulation between NbS such as landscape restoration or natural water infrastructure that contribute to more resilient ecosystems and communities in the face of climate change and disaster risks, contributing to several of the international agreements.
-Comprehensive land-use planning and ordering and incidence on intersectoral policies, with multi-stakeholder and trans-disciplinary coordination and within the framework of the principles of good governance.
-Robust monitoring and evaluation systems implemented with the multiple participants, that allow for a systematic, critical and analytical evidencing of our procedures, contributions and impacts.
-Strategies to ensure sustainability, with actions at the territorial level that last beyond the projects. And the list goes on …
It is essential to continue documenting these learnings and evidences of the effectiveness of the NbS and EbA in order to feed our work and future decisions.
I invite this - ever widening community of practice - to continue building, learning and sharing more of our successes and failures on this challenging path towards sustainable and resilient development.
Author: Karen Podvin
Climate Change Adaptation Program Officer
IUCN Regional Office for South America
Seddon, N., X. Hou-Jones, T. Pye, H. Reid, D. Roe, D. Mountain and A. R. Rizvi (2016a) Ecosystem-based adaptation: a win-win formula for sustainability in a warming world? IIED Briefing paper, July 2016, IIED, London.
Seddon, N., H. Reid, E. Barrow, C. Hicks, X. Hou-Jones, V. Kapos, A. R. Rizvi and D. Roe (2016b) Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy: Research overview and overarching questions. IIED, London.
Reid, H., N. Seddon, E. Barrow, C. Hicks, X. Hou-Jones, V. Kapos, A. R. Rizvi, D. Roe and S. Wicander (2017) Ecosystem-based adaptation: question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness. IIED, London.