Joining the puzzle pieces: reconceptualising ecosystem-based adaptation in South Africa within the current natural resource management and adaptation context
2 Jul 2019 - 12:30
by Jonathan Aronson, Sheona Shackleton and Likho Sikutshwa
There is increasing recognition that human resilience and adaptation to climate change in the Anthropocene depend critically on the integrity of ecosystems. Well-functioning ecosystems provide natural solutions and ecosystem services that build resilience and help society adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. An emerging approach to address adaptation challenges using natural solutions is ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) - the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change4.
South Africa’s climate change and biodiversity policy context provides support for a coordinated EbA programme. To facilitate this, guidelines for EbA were published in 2017, along with a strategic framework and overarching implementation plan for the period 2016-2021. The vision of this programme is that EbA is implemented as part of South Africa’s overall climate change adaptation strategy in support of a long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient economy and society. While there is support for EbA in South Africa and increasing implementation, there remains confusion about what EbA is and, more specifically, how it relates to other natural resource management and climate change adaptation approaches. Fundamentally, a key question is what makes a programme ‘EbA’ as opposed to being community-based adaptation, landscape-based disaster risk reduction, or rehabilitation of ecological infrastructure? Or, conversely how could the latter approaches be re-purposed to become more “EbA-like”?
In our policy brief we clarify what EbA is and suggest how it can be aligned with existing climate change and natural resource management approaches in South Africa. Read the brief here.