Healthy, well-functioning ecosystems enhance our resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change. Coastal habitats provide natural flood defenses, well-protected lakes retain water sources during droughts, and healthy forests reduce the risk of devastating wildfires. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is an approach that uses these biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of a holistic adaptation strategy. Often through win-win outcomes, EbA protects communities from the effects of climate change while simultaneously providing a variety of ecological benefits so crucial for human well-being, such as clean water and food.
Though primarily an adaptation approach, EbA can also contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing the emissions that transpire from habitat loss and ecosystem despoliation. The UN Environment's EbA projects span all types of ecosystems, from high mountaintops to the low-lying coasts. The work is delivered through three overarching components:
- Assessments and knowledge support
- Capacity building and demonstration
- Integration of EbA options into national development and adaptation plans