THEME 10

Evaluate the importance of, identify research needs for, and develop guidelines and best practice to enhance, species based conservation outcomes within ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation (EbA)

Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation or ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) has been defined by the AHTEG of the CBD as “a range of strategies for the management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that enable people to adapt to the impacts of climate change”. While there are still some differences of interpretation around this definition, it has been broadly accepted by the conservation and development communities. Hence, while species based conservation outcomes are not a defining goal of EbA (the focus is on the adaptation needs of people), they may nevertheless represent a critical operational focus, where an individual species or species assemblage (up to the ecosystem-level) plays a key role in supporting the delivery of an ecosystem service that reduces the vulnerability of people to climate change. The need to focus on conservation outcomes may arise as a result of a climate change threat to the specific species or ecosystem, or from any other global change pressure. However, our understanding of the circumstances in which an EbA project may be compromised by global change pressures on a supporting species or ecosystem is limited. Key gaps in our knowledge include which species or ecosystems are most sensitive, over what time period and in which regions? How does the socio-ecological context of the adaptation need mediate those pressures? And what methodologies and guidelines exist, building on related experiences and research across the ecological and social sciences, that could provide a set of best practices for appropriately including conservation outcomes within EbA projects, to ensure their sustainability.

The group is currently working on a peer-review paper that explores the benefits and limitations of EbA in achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes, particularly in the context of the Aichi Targets.