A new report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warns that we are well on our way to losing 25% or our plant and animal species and have already lost 47% of ecosystems.
EbA uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people and communities adapt to the negative effects of climate change at local, national, regional, and global levels. It recognizes, and in fact highlights, the importance of equity, gender, and the role and importance of local and traditional knowledge, as well as species diversity. Furthermore, it provides co-benefits such as clean water and food for communities, risk reduction options and benefits, and other services crucial for livelihoods and human well-being. Appropriately designed ecosystem adaptation initiatives can also contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing emissions from ecosystem degradation, and enhancing carbon sequestration. There are a range of approaches that are used to assess economic benefits of goods and services and these same approaches can and are used to assess costs and benefits of adaptation options including EbA. The three most commonly used ones are 1) Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA); 2) Cost-Effective Analysis; and 3) Multi-criteria Analysis. In order to contribute to policy through improved decision making at the national level, two case studies are highlighted in this report that look at the costs and benefits of EbA in the Philippines.
EbA uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of a larger adaptation strategy – an excellent example of a viable nature-based solution. As well as providing climate change adaptation benefits, this approach also contributes to biodiversity conservation and enhances local economies. IUCN has been extensively involved in EbA work, strengthening community resilience and livelihoods in almost 60 countries. This work demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the implementation of naturebased solutions. The conservation and sustainable development community considers EbA to be a strong method of addressing climate change and its associated challenges. However, there is still a tendency for policy makers to implement traditional engineering solutions for adaptation, rather than investing in EbA. The need for solid data on the cost-effectiveness of this nature-based approach was the driver behind an IUCN study identifying the economic costs and benefits associated with EbA. The lessons learned from this appraisal process will make it easier for policy makers to compare EbA options with engineered solutions.
In the last decade or so the world’s coastal areas have received a lot of attention – attention that has been spurred on specifically by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Subsequently, the undeniable linkages between coastal resources and economic and human wellbeing have become more apparent. This is evident nowhere more so than in the Maldives – a nation of small islands dependent entirely on its coastal and marine resources, which contribute extensively to its economy and its people’s livelihoods. There are few examples in the world where an entire nation’s wellbeing is so strongly linked to its natural resource base. For such a country, any threat to its biodiversity means adverse impacts on its future development. Clearly then, there is a strong imperative to recognise and demonstrate that there is an economic – in addition to a biological and ecological – rationale to biodiversity conservation.
Investment in ecosystem conservation tends to be biased as investment decisions are based on costs and benefits; and more often than not benefits of ecosystem conservation remain undervalued. Recently however, investment in the conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems is increasingly being seen as a key element of sustainable livelihoods and economies, vulnerability reduction and disaster management. For the coastal poor in developing countries as well as the managers of mangrove ecosystems, the value in maintaining them is perhaps not surprising. Local users have long recognized the ecological functions and socio-economic values of mangroves to their lives and livelihoods. Mangrove ecosystems are highly productive areas contributing to the food chains of many species. Mangrove forests are therefore critical components of the ecosystem in that they provide complex habitat structure for numerous juvenile fish species. Overall the awareness about the ecological functions and values of mangrove ecosystems remain low among decision-makers. There is therefore, clearly a need to assess, calculate and share information on the economic values associated with mangroves – and the economic benefits of managing them wisely in the future.