Research on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA): A reference guide
Why conduct research on Ecosystem-based Adaptation?
It is widely asserted that environmental and climatic changes pose most tangible impacts on communities that are highly dependent on natural ecosystems to support their livelihoods.
Climate change adaptation strategies are therefore necessary to be considered as an integral part of the country development planning. Adaptation may take different approaches, and many governments prefer to invest in traditional “hard” engineering solutions, such as coastal defenses, which in the long term may prove to be unsustainable. These solutions are usually costly and do not provide the same range of services as fully-functioning ecosystems do. On the other hand, forests, wetlands, or other ecosystems play an important role in supporting livelihoods through providing essential services like food, water, and building material. Similarly, natural ecosystems can reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and extreme climatic events by providing storm protection, green coastal defenses and regulating water and nutrient recharge.
When ecosystems are healthy and well-functioning, they can enhance the resilience of communities to the adverse impacts of climate change. Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is a promising approach to address climate-related challenges. EbA is part of an overall adaptation strategy that relies on biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people and communities adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.
While the role of ecosystems in adaptation strategies is increasingly being acknowledged, there are still questions regarding the conceptual framework shaping EbA components (e.g. social, ecological, economic, governance) and processes (e.g. planning, implementing, monitoring).
To encourage EbA application, it is essential to make the case for the benefits and costeffectiveness of the approach compared to other types of adaptation measures. It is especially necessary to advance in the scientific evidence for EbA to gain political commitment across different levels, secure funding and private sector engagement, better inform decision-making on EbA, and ultimately facilitate its implementation.
Purpose of the guide
This guide is intended to assist researchers in developing a plan or proposal for a research study on EbA. The objective is to strengthen the understanding of core concepts, provide an analysis of current and prevailing knowledge gaps and research needs for EbA, with an insight into where potential research should be focused for future knowledge generation. It highlights considerations with regards to selecting an appropriate research approach, reviewing the literature to position the proposed study within the existing research. Also, the guide provides an inventory of EbA-relevant tools and lists relevant journals, conferences and funding opportunities.