Ecosystem-based Adaptation

Cross-sectoral enabler
Technology group


Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) refers to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.  It is relevant to many situations, from mountains to lowlands, and from land to sea. With so much of the world’s population living in or near coastal regions, and with many of their livelihood activities dependent on marine and coastal ecosystems, coastal EBA initiatives are especially important.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer disproportionately from climate change impacts. They are particularly dependent on ecosystems and their services for human well-being, livelihoods and economic development, and are therefore highly vulnerable to the multiple threats climate change poses for coastal ecosystems. Sea-level rise threatens to inundate economically productive land and salinize water resources, whilst sea surface temperature increases can impact commercially important fish populations. Ocean acidification threatens coral reefs, which are experiencing widespread bleaching and dieback, in the long-term affecting their potential for coastal protection, beach sand production and ecotourism. All these threats can act synergistically and are exacerbated by other drivers of ecosystem degradation and loss.

UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), as part of a UN Environment-led initiative on ‘Building capacity for coastal EBA in SIDS’, have produced an EBA options guide and a website including a decision-support tool (DST). The website presents case studies and ten options for coastal EBA (see overview below). The tool outlines seven key steps which support the planning and implementation process. 

Ten options for efficient coastal EBA

  • Mangrove conservation and restoration
  • Seagrass conservation and restoration
  • Coral reef conservation and restoration
  • Dune and beach conservation and restoration
  • Managed realignment and coastal set-backs
  • Coastal wetland conservation and restoration
  • Diversification and protection of ecoystem-based livelihoods
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
  • Living breakwaters

See the website and following publication for more information: Options for Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Coastal Environments


UN Environment and WeAdapt