The densely forested and richly biodiverse Panchase area of Western Nepal is vulnerable to climate change--from the drying of water sources to increased incidences of landslides. These vulnerabilities underscore the critical role of healthy ecosystems in sustaining livelihoods and building adaptive capacity.
That’s why the Panchase area is one of three pilots for IUCN’s Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in Mountain Ecosystems. The project is based on the premise that social and human adaptation is best achieved by ensuring ecosystem services and through enhancing human capacities to address current challenges and future uncertainties.
But what does Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) look like in practice? And how can we equip people working in the fields of adaptation, conservation and development with the information and guidance they need to design, implement and monitor effective EbA options?
A new tool, developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with IUCN, aims to provide practitioners with a systematic process to identify and prioritize EbA options. EbA in Mountain Ecosystems served as an opportunity to pilot each step of the EbA planning tool, offering insights about the practice of EbA and the challenges faced by practitioners in planning and implementing adaptation projects with an ecosystem focus.
Through a structured analysis, the tool helps users identify and understand how people and their livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change, and how ecosystems and ecosystem services can reduce these vulnerabilities, improving adaptive capacity. Users will understand how climate change and other stressors affect the supply of ecosystem services. This helps users identify and prioritize EbA options for maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services—options that reduce people’s vulnerability to climate change, while building the resilience of ecosystems themselves.
In the EbA in Mountain Ecosystems pilot application of the tool, practitioners highlighted the usefulness of applying the tool’s step-by step approach, as well as the importance of assessing potential EbA options against a set of effectiveness and feasibility criteria to ensure a proposed activity meets the EbA definition and produces the desired results. Practitioners noted the importance of developing a robust monitoring and evaluation framework during the project planning stage, rather than treating it as an afterthought.
In response to the insights gained from the pilot application, the tool’s development team further refined the individual steps to include a multi-criteria analysis that helps prioritize effective, feasible EbA options and a module of the tool that facilitates developing a robust monitoring and evaluation framework as part of the planning stage.
The primary users of the tool are expected to be project managers and programming staff working at the local-level designing or implementing an EbA intervention. These actors work closely with a range of stakeholders, including community members, local authorities, NGOs and policymakers.
Testing out the application of the tool on an existing project in the Panchase area proved critical to ensure that it is as practical and useful as it can be. The computer-based version of the tool, along with an associated guidance manual, will be freely available online at the end of the year.
The Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Planning Tool Framework was developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with IUCN as part of the GEF-funded project 'Ecosystem-based Adaptation through South-South Cooperation' (EbA South, a joint initiative of UN Environment and China).
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