Adaptation to climate change is crucial for many developing countries, particularly in rural communities, where poverty and dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources combine to create severe vulnerability. In these contexts, two approaches to adaptation have emerged that aim to meet these communities’ specific needs and build their capacity to adapt:

Ecosystem-based adaptation focuses on protecting and strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem services as a key adaptation strategy. The emphasis is thus on ensuring the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems that people depend on.

Community-based adaptation puts community members at the centre of adaptation planning, enabling them to identify their own needs, set priorities, and find solutions based on their own knowledge and capacities. A key focus here is to empower communities to adapt.

Each of these approaches has valuable benefits, but very often they are used in isolation. Thus, in recent years, there has been growing interest in integrating the two. This briefing note describes lessons from the EcoAdapt project, which sought to integrate the two.

EcoAdapt has been a five-year, EU-funded action research project, launched in January 2011, that aimed to develop long-term climate adaptation strategies for water resources that can gain wide social acceptance. It focuses on three forest-rich Latin American landscapes: the Chiquitania in Bolivia, Jujuy in Argentina, and Araucarias del Alto Malleco in Chile. The goal of this briefing is to invite further dialogue about the benefits and challenges of integrating ecosystem- and community-based approaches, and to identify successful strategies that could potentially be scaled up and out.

Download the discussion brief (PDF, 835kb)