Story | 01 Sep, 2021

Climate justice for people and nature through urban Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA): A focus on the Global South

Healthy, functioning, and resilient ecosystems lay the foundation for sustainable economic development, food and water security, disaster risk reduction and climate action. The impacts of climate change pose unique risks to densely populated urban areas, and as the share of the global population living in urban areas continues to rise, the role of nature-based solutions as part of climate adaptation strategies in urban settings is an urgent priority. Through urban ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), cities can protect, restore, and manage local ecosystems and biodiversity in ways that help them adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. A new publication by the FEBA Urban EbA working group showcases practical examples of urban EbA interventions and explores their intrinsic links to climate justice.

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Local ecosystems and biodiversity can greatly improve the liveability of our increasingly urbanised world. Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approaches, which fall under the umbrella of Nature-based Solutions (NbS), make active use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help societies and ecosystems adapt to the impacts of climate change. Ecosystems and their services can additionally deliver just climate outcomes, particularly in urban areas of the Global South.

As such, the Urban EbA Working Group of the Friends of EbA network (FEBA), coordinated by PlanAdapt and IUCN, has launched a new technical paper: “Climate Justice for People and Nature through Urban Ecosystem-based Adaptation: A focus on the Global South”. The new joint technical paper gathers practical examples of urban EbA interventions and explores their links to climate justice.

The paper establishes seven EbA Social Principles – based on existing principles and criteria for EbA, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) and NbS – which include Participation and inclusiveness, Capacity building, Fairness and equitability, Integration of traditional/local knowledge, Livelihood improvement, Gender consideration and Appropriateness of scale. The paper discusses the alignment of these principles with distributive, procedural and recognitional forms of justice. It envisions that the deliberate consideration of the EbA Social Principles at various project stages can help guide the just implementation of EbA initiatives, particularly in urban contexts, and contribute to achieving climate just outcomes for people and nature.

The publication showcases practical examples of urban EbA interventions that were gathered via an online survey and explores their links with aspects of climate justice through the EbA Social Principles. The technical paper identifies the characteristics, components, planned purposes and enabling environments of various urban EbA measures within the 31 reported case studies to assess their suitability and effectiveness in different settings. Most of the surveyed urban EbA interventions reported a range of adaptation strategies encompassing social, physical and institutional components. Regarding the EbA Social Principles, the majority of the projects reported a high level of Gender consideration and Fairness and equitability while incorporation of Livelihood improvement and Capacity building were less common.

Alongside the analysis of the 31 practical examples of urban EbA interventions, six selected case studies from the survey were explored through in-depth narratives to further illustrate lessons learned and their links to the EbA Social Principles. These six in-depth case study narratives are presented through multimedia StoryMaps.

The survey examples and in-depth case study narratives explore EbA interventions’ potential to deliver climate-just outcomes for urban areas in the Global South. By analysing the surveyed case studies through the lens of the EbA Social Principles, this paper demonstrates the potential of EbA interventions to deliver climate-just outcomes for urban areas in the Global South.  

The technical paper “Climate justice for people and nature through urban Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA): A focus on the Global South” is available here and the case study StoryMaps are viewable here

For any further questions, contact Wendy Atieno.

About Friends of EbA (FEBA)FEBA is a global collaborative network of 90+ agencies and organisations involved in Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) working jointly to share experiences and knowledge, to improve the implementation of EbA related activities on the ground, and to have a stronger and more strategic learning and policy influence on EbA. EbA has paved the way for the wide uptake of working with nature as a cornerstone of adaptation strategies to simultaneously address climate risks, the biodiversity crisis, and human wellbeing. FEBA works to synthesise multi-stakeholder knowledge on EbA; disseminate this knowledge by convening the global EbA community around high-level events, technical workshops, and expert working groups; and raise awareness and understanding of EbA in adaptation planning processes and multilateral policy frameworks. The CBD COP recognizes FEBA as a key partner “to support Parties in their efforts to promote ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation” (Decision 14/5).