Author: Alejandra Calzada Vázquez Vela | Mesoamerican Reef Senior Officer | WWF Mexico
Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is considered a viable option because of its cost-effectiveness and its capacity to generate social and environmental co-benefits . The premise is that, through conservation, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems, it is possible to enhance the ecosystem services they provide and thus contribute to reducing the vulnerability of human communities.
However, the ability to provide said ecosystem services depends on several factors, including the location of the ecosystems relative to the population as well as the physical, biological and social conditions of each site; it is therefore not possible in every case to take for granted that the conservation or restoration of ecosystems will lead to the provision of all ecosystem services and thus to the reduction of vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
The Costas Listas project, coordinated by WWF (which is supported by the International Climate Initiative – IKI for its German acronym) seeks to implement a science-based approach through which EbA measures will be identified and prioritized, and locations where coastal ecosystems have the greatest capacity to provide ecosystem services will be identified. Taking into account the local context, the services on which the project focuses are coastal protection, recreation, fisheries and sediment retention.
The above will be achieved through collaboration with the Natural Capital Project from the Stanford University. Through the use of the InVEST tool, a series of land management scenarios will be modeled to identify those that generate the greatest benefits to human communities in terms of coastal protection, catch and income from fishing (taking into account the dependence of commercially important species on habitats) and economic income from tourism (with emphasis on the natural features of sites that attract visitors).
This approach will allow resources to be used efficiently, ensuring that the implemented measures generate the benefits for which they were identified and prioritized. In addition, it is important to mention that decision-making is accompanied by a participatory multisectoral process through which not only technical inputs are sought, but also the appropriation by the different actors of the implementation and adoption of the identified measures in the long term.
The scale of the project is regional, as it is implemented in the countries covered by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Ecoregion: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, specifically 15 protected natural areas.
In Mexico, the project is implemented in coordination with the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, Pronatura Yucatan Peninsula, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, the Secretariat for Sustainable Development and the Secretariat of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture of Yucatan and the Secretariat of Ecology and Environment of Quintana Roo.