Commission on Ecosystem Management

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 relaunched on the Asian Development Preparedness Center (ADPC) platform in 2017/18. Overall the MOOC attracted over 17,000 participants. 

Request our Master's course:  Disasters, Environment and Risk Reduction which was initially developed in 2013, since then it has been revised and translated also to Spanish. It is available at no cost to any instructor interested, please write to:

The ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction case study and exercise source book is available here:

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 2019

Month Date Actiivity Place
Other Partners
Feb 12-14 PEDRR International Science Policy Worksop Bonn, Germany UNU-EHS; UN Environment GNDR, UNESCO, TNC, Wetlands International. FEBA and others
May 13-17 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction Geneva, Switzerland UNDRR Multiple
July 9-18 High-level Political Forum New York, USA UN Multiple
Sep 24-25 SDG Summit New York, USA UN Multiple
Dec 2-13 Santiago Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 25) Santiago de Chile UNFCCC Multiple

Key Events 2020

Month Date Actiivity Place
Other Partners
June 11-19 IUCN World Conservation Congress Marselles, France IUCN  Multiple

Social media:

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