Ecosystem-based adaptation: socio-ecological advancement.

by Naomi van den Berg

Ecosystem: a term that never fails to spark my interest, and I was happy to learn there was a session on ecosystem dynamics on my first day at this conference. After having been overwhelmed by many fancy acronyms, I was familiarized with a new one: EbA. EbA stands for ecosystem-based adaptation. What does this entail precisely? And how is EbA integrated into policy?

The session started off with a clear definition of EbA. More specifically, the difference between conservation and EbA was highlighted. Conservation is bio-centric, whereas EbA is human-centric. This human-centric nature of EbA can be explained by the definition of ecosystem services as “ecosystem qualities contributing to human wellbeing”.  This partitioning between purely bio-centric approaches and socio-ecological approaches shows the more integrative nature of EbA.

Success stories of EbA in practice were shared, and frequently the framework of the Nairobi Work Program (formulated in COP11) was referred to, which is basically a program that facilitates and stimulates the exchange and transparency of expertise – especially for developing countries. As we all know, ecosystems as well as human communities are unique, and require case-specific approaches. Therefore, sharing success stories is of vital importance in expanding the world-wide application of EbA.

The success-factor of the applied examples could largely be explained by the synergies EbA allows between adaptation, mitigation and DRR (disaster risk reduction). So, was EbA truly as flawless as it seemed, hearing the different success stories from all over the world? As the session ended, we approached one of the speakers who works for IUCN, Ali Raza Rizvi. He told us the exchange of knowledge should not only be confined to success stories; instead, sharing stories of failure is of equal importance (although, of course, these are a lot less fun to share). Let’s see if we will hear some of these in the upcoming few days of the conference!


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