Commission on Ecosystem Management

Ecosystem based Adaptation and Mitigation

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines adaptation as the “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”.  Moreover, the IPCC underlined that “adaptation will be necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming which is already unavoidable due to past emissions”.

As a contribution to addressing adaptation challenges and implementing international and national adaptation programs, the Ecosystem based Adaptation and Mitigation Thematic Group of IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), will promote the science and practice of Ecosystem-based Adaptation.

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. As one of the possible elements of an overall adaptation strategy, ecosystem-based adaptation uses the sustainable management, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that enable people to adapt to the impacts of climate change. It aims to maintain and increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems and people in the face of the adverse effects of climate change.

EbA can generate significant social, economic and cultural co-benefits, contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and build on the traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities, including the important role of women as custodians of local knowledge. In addition, healthy, well managed ecosystems have climate change mitigation potential, for example, through the sequestration and storage of carbon in healthy forests, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems.

Following the principles of EbA and emerging best-practice in adaptation, the Thematic Group will draft guidelines for various policy fora, and also compile and share experience from applying EbA in practice. For example, a case study book, with local experiences provided by the group’s members, researchers and sector specialist, will be prepared to show the role that ecosystems can play in reducing the impacts of climate change.

Workshops and training courses will be held to raise awareness and provide practical tools for experts, policy-makers and stakeholders to plan activities and adaptation programs that consider the role of ecosystem services in supporting climate adaptation at local, national and regional level.

Furthermore, the Thematic Group will consider and elaborate on links with existing environmental management tools, such as Protected Areas.

The group workplan will create a bridge between adaptation and mitigation strategies and actions to recognise the intricate relationship between ecosystems and the solutions required to address climate change.

Thematic Group Lead: Hannah Gosnell (

Co-leader: Angela Boag (

CEM Focal Point: Angela Andrade ( )

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