The “ecosystem-based adaptation” approach: A critical element in climate change response strategy

Exploring ecosystem-based adaptation in Durban, South Africa: “learning-by-doing” at the local government coal face

From Environment and Urbanization

The lack of progress in establishing ambitious and legally binding global mitigation targets means that the need for locally based climate change adaptation will increase in vulnerable localities such as Africa. This paper examines the “ecosystem-based adaptation” (EBA) programme implemented in Durban to consider the opportunities associated with the approach, it also recognizes the limitations and realities faced in the world’s most rapidly urbanizing continents. There are growing calls for biodiversity and ecosystems to be considered critical elements in any climate change response strategy. This paper considers the shift to “ecosystem-based adaptation”. The approach is being promoted as a cost-effective and sustainable approach to improving adaptive capacity. Furthermore, the concept of “community ecosystem-based adaptation” (CEBA) is being developed to highlight the mutually beneficial and positively reinforcing relationship that exists between ecosystems and human communities.

 

ABSTRACT

The lack of progress in establishing ambitious and legally binding global mitigation targets means that the need for locally based climate change adaptation will increase in vulnerable localities such as Africa. Within this context, “ecosystem-based adaptation” (EBA) is being promoted as a cost-effective and sustainable approach to improving adaptive capacity. Experience with the ongoing development of Durban’s Municipal Climate Protection Programme indicates that achieving EBA in cities means moving beyond the conceptualization of a uniform, one-size-fits-all layer of street trees and parks to a more detailed understanding of the complex ecology of indigenous ecosystems and their resilience under climate change conditions. It also means engaging with the role that this “bio-infrastructure” plays in improving the quality of life and socioeconomic opportunities of the most vulnerable human communities. Despite the long-term sustainability gains of this approach, implementation in Durban has been shown to be both technically challenging and resource intensive. The close association between human and ecological systems in addressing climate change adaptation has also led to the development of the concept of “community ecosystem-based adaptation”.

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Article details
Roberts, D., Boon, R., Diederichs, N., Douwes, E., Govender, N., McInnes, A., McLean, C., O’Donoghue, S., & Spires, M. (2011). Exploring ecosystem-based adaptation in Durban, South Africa: “learning-by-doing” at the local government coal face Environment and Urbanization DOI: 10.1177/0956247811431412

     
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