Commission on Ecosystem Management

Eco-Disaster Risk Reduction

Eco-DRR is the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to reduce disaster risk, with the aim to achieve sustainable and resilient development.
Camargue National Reserve, France

Thematic Group Lead: 
Fabrice Renaud and Simone Sandholz 

SC Focal Point
Angela Andrade


Well-managed ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests and coastal systems, act as natural infrastructure, reducing physical exposure to many hazards and increasing socio-economic resilience of people and communities by sustaining local livelihoods and providing essential natural resources such as food, water and building materials. Ecosystem management not only offers an opportunity to strengthen natural infrastructure and human resilience against hazard impacts, but also generates a range of other social, economic and environmental benefits for multiple stakeholders, which in turn feed back into reduced risk.


As a cross-cutting theme, IUCN’s Ecosystem based approaches to disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) activities at the global level are coordinated by the IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme, and supported by the expertise of CEM members. These activities include coordination and communications about Eco-DRR across IUCN, collecting and disseminating lessons learned about projects and processes that integrate ecosystem management, sustainable livelihoods and disaster risk reduction at the regional level. IUCN regional offices are in the forefront of developing innovative approaches to watershed management, institutional capacity building and collaborative project that integrate disaster risk and climate change adaptation. A good example is, Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC), which is IUCN’s first Eco-DRR and ecosystem based adaptation project with project sites in six countries globally.

CEM is actively working in partnership with interested and qualified CEM members and especially with the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR), a global alliance of 22 international organisations, academic institutions and NGOs. Collaborative efforts involving CEM members include a growing “community of practice” for educational and scientific exchanges in the field of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction, participation in publications, periodic PEDRR workshops on Eco-DRR and periodic technical inputs to IUCN on specific requests for feedback.

Impact/results to date

In collaboration with IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme, CEM members were active in a series of international policy events:

  • Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, where ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) was prominently featured in the outcome document;
  • UNFCCC Paris COP 12 agreement features ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and risk reduction;
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), COP 12 and 13 (Decisions XII/20 ; XIII/4) both mention ecosystem-based approaches.  The CBD is now in the process of developing technical guidelines on Eco-DRR and adaptation;
  • Ramsar Decision XII/13 regards the importance of wetlands to reducing disaster risk;
  • The First World Forum on Ecosystem Governance, and its declaration which also features Eco-DRR.

CEM members contributed directly or indirectly to the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Eco-DRR, “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate”, which was launched in January 2015 and attracted over 12,000 participants.  It is being re-launched on the Asian Development Preparedness Center (ADPC) platform ( from September 18, 2017.  It is free of charge and open to all.

Request our Master's course:  Disasters, Environment and Risk Reduction which was developed in 2013 and available at no cost to any instructor interested, please write to: [email protected]

Publication of a number of Eco-DRR-related books and publications, including:

  1. Renaud, F.G., Sudmeier-Rieux, K., Estrella, M., Nehren, U. (Eds.) (2016) Ecosystem-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation in Practice. Advances in natural and technological hazards research. 42
  2. Renaud, F., Sudmeier-Rieux, K. and Estrella, M. (eds) (2013) The Role of Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction. Tokyo: United Nations University Press
  3. Sudmeier-Rieux, K., Ash, N, Murti, R. (2013) Environmental Guidance Note for Disaster Risk Reduction. Gland: IUCN

Key events 2017

Month Dates Activity Place/location Lead Partner/s Other partners involved weblink
October 3-5 European Open Forum on DRR (tbc) Helsinki, Finland Govt of Finland Council of Europe  
October 13 Upscaling ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (eco-DRR) investments to reduce disaster risks Brussels, Belgium UNESCO, Wetlands International UNISDR
October 23-25 Global Science, Technology, and Innovation Conference 2017 Brussels, Belgium Multiple UN and international organisations Multiple
November 6-17 UNFCCC COP 23 Bonn, Germany UNFCCC UNFCC
November 29-30 2017 European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference Budapest, Hungary CEEweb for Biodiversity, and the EFB present
December 6-8 Workshop: ‘Grey, green or hybrid? The Potential of nature-based solutions for DRR’ Spiez and Bern, Switzerland Swiss NGO DRR platform
December 6-9 Face-2-Face workshop: Good practice collection - WOCAT for Eco-DRR Switzerland, Bern/Spiez Swiss NGO DRR platform /Caritas Switzerland HELVETAS
December 11-15 9th world conference of the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) Shenzhen, China UNU, ESP    

Key events 2018


Month Dates Activity Place/location Lead Partner/s Other partners involved weblink
February 27-28 Third Annual Aid & Development Africa Summit Nairobi, Kenya Multiple
May 8-11 International Conference on Water, Environment, Energy and Society (ICWEES) Djerba Island Tunisia
May 14-18 Understanding Risk Forum Mexico City Understanding Risk
October tbc Ramsar Convention COP13 Dubai, UAE Ramsar Convention Secretariat, IUCN    


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