Climate change is already a reality which affects all components of biodiversity: it changes species distribution, affects the timing of life events, increases the vulnerability of species and ecosystems and disrupts the supply of ecosystem services. As such, in addition to mitigation efforts, there is an urgent need to develop and implement climate change adaptation plans which both consider the adaptation needs of biodiversity and take advantage of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services when planning for adaptation across sectors.
Ecosystem-based adaptation is an emerging concept that consists in increasing the resilience and reducing the vulnerability of ecosystems and people in the face of climate change. It identifies and implements a range of strategies for the management, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that enable people to adapt to the impacts of changing temperatures, precipitation patterns, sea level rise, CO2 concentrations and exposure to extreme events.
When integrated into an overall adaptation strategy, ecosystem-based adaptation can deliver a cost effective contribution to climate change adaptation and generate societal benefits. Many countries have implemented ecosystem-based projects, such as the mangrove restoration to mitigate storms and sea level rise effects, the establishment of marine protected areas to limit the negative impacts of coral bleaching or the selection of resistant crop varieties to adapt to extreme climate events. More examples and case studies are available in national reports and in the database below.
According to the lessons learned from these cases, important considerations for the implementation of adaptation plans include: establishing clear climatic and environmental baselines, ensuring adequate data availability, and selecting appropriate indicators of change. Implementing an adaptation activity is, however, only part of the process: continued monitoring of implementation is also necessary in order to facilitate adaptive management and learning-by-doing.