Enhancing Resilience Through Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation

Marine and coastal ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Coastal and marine EbA involves governing and managing ecosystems to enhance their resilience to climatic stresses in the coastal zone. This entails maintaining and, where possible, improving the quality and quantity of ecosystem services provided to society; and in so doing supporting communities to adapt to current and future climate risks. As a result more sustainable forms of development will be achieved, strengthening livelihoods in ways that reduce poverty and environmental degradation. African countries safeguard many of the world’s planetary boundaries and healthy ecosystems. However, despite the recognition of their value, the modification and degradation of crucial habitats such as coral reefs, mangrove forests and coastal wetlands continue unabated. Moreover, these ecosystems are still largely absent from climate change response measures and need to be more fully integrated into national and sectoral policies, particularly in small island states and developing countries with vulnerable coastal areas. The advancement of national climate adaptation, disaster risk, biodiversity and Blue Economy strategies, and the revision of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020, are important opportunities to include these ecosystems in official response policies. There is significant potential to expand EbA in Southern and East Africa. However, if marine and coastal EbA is to be implemented effectively several barriers must be addressed to maximise the opportunities it provides. These include political prioritisation; cross-sectoral integration and effective spatial planning; access to finance; sufficient quantitative data to support private sector engagement; capacity building and peer learning. There is also a need to promote and strengthen partnerships, especially with coastal communities and marginalised groupings such as women and children.