Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is defined as the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2009).
Through EbA, adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and resilience-building are achieved by managing existing natural resources in a sustainable manner, restoring ecosystems and ecosystem functions where they have been lost or degraded, and integrating these activities within broader efforts to improve livelihoods and human well-being.
The effectiveness of EbA as a key component of comprehensive adaptation strategies is increasingly acknowledged, particularly for its potential to support social, economic, cultural and ecological objectives in addition to climate change adaptation. Ancillary or co-benefits EbA can deliver include, among others, wildlife habitat protection, improved stewardship of land and water resources, opportunities for livelihood diversification and climate change mitigation via carbon sequestration.
EbA can be used as a stand-alone approach to address a range of specific adaptation challenges. Alternatively, it can be used to complement engineering (infrastructure) or other technological approaches to adaptation by increasing their resilience and effectiveness. In many applications EbA is inherently less likely to result in mal-adaptation due to the adaptability of natural ecosystems and their capacity for self-regeneration.