Washington D.C. Office

Ecosystem-based adaptation

Pastoral transhumance in Iran

Functioning globally through IUCN Country Offices (and the Washington D.C. Office), Members, and partners, IUCN promotes the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as a part of an overall climate adaptation strategy both at the policy and practice level. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves a wide range of ecosystem management activities to increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people and the environment to climate change.

Ecosystem-based adaptation – what is it?

Existing coping strategies to deal with climate variability, as well as new and enhanced adaptation approaches are required. Given the urgency of adaptation and often limited funding, available and cost-effective adaptation solutions are often prioritized. Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation, or the conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of ecosystems to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change are gaining increasing attention, as they are accessible to the rural poor in developing countries and can be cost-effective. Such approaches include, for example, sustainable agriculture, integrated water resource management, and sustainable forest management interventions that use nature to reduce vulnerability to climate change. The role of ecosystems in adaptation is recognized at the international level under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Why an integrated approach to adaptation? 

The ability of people to adapt to climate change is inextricably linked to their access to basic human rights and to the health of the ecosystems they depend on for their livelihoods and wellbeing. If adaptation policies and programs are to be effective, they must integrate efforts to sustain and restore ecosystem functions and promote human rights under changing climate conditions.

Objectives of integrated climate change adaptation:

  • To promote the resilience of livelihoods;
  • To reduce the impacts of natural disasters such as storms and floods, on vulnerable people and ecosystems;
  • To build the capacity of civil society and government institutions to support integrated approaches to adaptation;
  • To increase awareness of the underlying causes of vulnerability (degraded ecosystems, poor governance, unequal access to resources and services, discrimination and other social injustices);
  • To promote the sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity to maintain the benefits provided by ecosystems (e.g. provision of food and shelter).


Learn more about IUCN's work on Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

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