Lili Ilieva, PhD, Specialist in climate change adaptation
There is no single approach to adaptation to climate change, but rather a series of strategies and processes according to the context and spatio-temporal decision scale. One of these approaches is Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA). This approach is based on the management of ecosystems in order to support the people and society which depend on these ecosystems to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. This approach uses a range of measures for the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems that facilitates the reduction of social and ecological vulnerability in the future and allows generating social, economic and cultural benefits in a more cost-effective manner.
A vast array of information and knowledge has been generated over the years through completed and ongoing research on climate related impacts and risks, vulnerability and adaptation to climate variability and change. In light of this, it is essential to assess the current state of knowledge available and what specific information is still required in order to identify areas that require attention and research to further our understanding. This information is useful to inform policy and decision makers on viable and appropriate adaptation options.
Effective institutional capacity to identify and integrate climate change adaptation actions within sectoral planning and budgeting processes is a key factor to designing, implementing and monitoring of EbA measures. Therefore, there is a need to identify the knowledge gaps and needs regarding Ecosystem-based Adaptation through a participatory assessment process to improve cross-sectoral collaboration and coordination mechanisms between ministries and relevant stakeholders.
Knowledge and capacity are critical to every phase of policy making for EbA, from planning to implementation and evaluation. The needs and capacities should be assessed across three dimensions - individual, organizational, enabling environment - in order to identify strengths and weaknesses of individuals, organizations and enabling environment for national adaptation planning in the agriculture sectors. Key technical and functional knowledge and capacities include:
Climate information and risk assessment: Analyse climate scenarios at local scale; analyse climate impacts, risks and vulnerabilities for decision-making on adaptation responses with focus on EbA.
Planning and implementation: Address climate change risks and opportunities with effective adaptation solutions; appraise and identify adaptation options based on ecosystem approach; implement EbA actions on the ground to enhance resilience in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors and leverage climate financing.
Coordination and partnering/networking: Engage stakeholders and partners, which are identified as direct or indirect beneficiaries of key ecosystem services, to promote coordination and synergies at the national and subnational levels.
M&E of adaptation process and enhanced climate resilience: Knowledge on national planning process for development and climate adaptation; monitor financial resources allocated to adaptation and nature conservation; investigate impact of adaptation policies and interventions; report on adaptation performance through a sectoral M&E framework for adaptation.
Tailored capacity building is key to close the knowledge gaps for the individual, organizational and enabling environment levels; and a prerequisite to create an enabling environment for effective planning and implementation of EbA measures.