Climate and Biodiversity Resources for Integrating Climate and Biodiversity and Improving Resilience

Ecosystem Goods and Services Support Climate Adaptation and Mitigation and Improve Resilience

Healthy, biodiverse ecosystems provide goods and services critical to human well-being and resilience, including services that support climate change adaptation and mitigation. Simultaneously, climate change poses a direct threat to biodiversity through stressors such as higher temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns, which degrade habitats, accelerate extinction rates, and exacerbate impacts from other threats to biodiversity. Drivers of climate change and threats to biodiversity are also linked; deforestation fragments and reduces habitats while releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Conservation, restoration, and management of biodiversity and natural resources can help countries and communities respond to climate variability and long-term climate change, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the resilience of both people and ecosystems.

  • Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approaches can be a cost-effective adaptation strategy to maintain and increase the quantity and quality of water by recharging aquifers and improving water storage (Talberth et al. 2012, Bertule et al. 2014).
  • Coastal vegetated ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes have long benefited coastal communities and fisheries, and in recent years have been recognized internationally for their significant capacity to sequester and store carbon (i.e., "blue carbon") – at rates that surpass those of tropical forests.
  • Deforestation and forest degradation are the biggest threats to forests worldwide. Forest degradation occurs when forest ecosystems lose their capacity to provide important goods and services to people and nature. Community forestry can combat deforestation and biodiversity loss while developing rural, forest-based enterprises that provide sustainable economic opportunities for farmers and forest-dependent communities.
USAID/Kenya and East Africa and the World Food Programme encouraged use of nature-based technologies such as farm ponds, terraces, and Zai pits among local farmers that helped them grow and store crops, even during drought. Photo by: Alex Maina.

Nature-based Solutions for Climate Resilience

Although much of Peru has abundant sources of freshwater at certain times of the year, increasing temperatures and irregular rainfall patterns have led to droughts, floods, landslides, and the retreat of mountain glaciers in recent years. The combined impacts of climate stressors and ecosystem degradation have led to more water insecurity for both rural and urban communities. Increasingly, communities are experiencing floods during the rainy season and water scarcity at other times of the year.

USAID/Peru assisted vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change by supporting three sub-national projects that focused on building local community and government capacity for improved environmental governance and implementing green infrastructure approaches to strengthen ecosystems and stabilize the provision of water. Maintaining Water Security in Peru Through Green Infrastructure: An Ecosystem-based Approach describes how these three projects piloted a range of EbA and hybrid adaptation activities, generated notable results, and contributed valuable lessons learned in the design and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches.

Healthy ecosystems contribute to communities’ resilience to shocks and stresses.

Resources for USAID Missions, Washington, and Partners

Ecosystem-based Adaptation

Ecosystem-based adaptation is a nature-based method for climate change adaptation that provides flexible and cost-effective approaches that enhance resilience through the improved management and conservation of ecosystems.

Reports and Evidence

  • The Ecosystem-based Adaptation Series Synthesis summarizes a series of evidence summaries and case studieshighlighting the potential role of EbA in addressing climate vulnerabilities and contributing to development results. These resources can help decision-makers and development practitioners determine when EbA is a relevant approach, either alone or as a component of a broader adaptation strategy.
  • The Economics of Ecosystem-based Adaptation evidence summary highlights how EbA approaches like sustainable forest management, reforestation, agroforestry, mangrove restoration, and rangeland management can be more cost-effective, feasible, and sustainable compared with other adaptation methods like the construction of hard infrastructure.

Other Resources

Photo by: Rita Paola Gutiérrez La Rosa.

EbA: Extreme Events and Coastal Resilience

Nature-based approaches like ecosystem-based adaptation help communities adapt to extreme weather and climate-related events such as floods, storm surges, landslides, fires, droughts, and heat waves. They can increase the resilience of coastal and other populations by strengthening and maintaining natural systems and the goods and services they provide.

Reports and Evidence

Case Examples

  • The Improving Ecosystem Management to Strengthen Resilience to Extreme Weather in the Philippines case study details how improving the management of local ecosystems, particularly watersheds, strengthened climate resilience while providing immediate economic opportunities for local community members.
  • The Restoring Coral Reefs in the Face of Climate Change in the Seychelles case study highlights the successful application of EbA to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification.
  • The Siete Pecados Marine Park case example describes a coastal community’s persistence, in partnership with USAID/Philippines and others, to establish a marine protected area with an integrated approach that includes biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, and economic growth.

Photo by: Janice Laurente for USAID.

EbA: Food and Water Security

EbA approaches can help people and communities address challenges related to food and water security in the face of climate change through approaches like planting shade trees to improve soil fertility and support pollinators, and managing watersheds to maintain water supply.

Reports and Evidence

  • The Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Food Security evidence summary outlines the contributions of EbA to food security through approaches like planting shade trees to improve soil fertility and support pollinators, managing watersheds to maintain water supplies, and diversifying crops to improve resistance to pest outbreaks.
  • The Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Water Security evidence summary provides an overview of EbA approaches that support water security, including the conservation of healthy ecosystems that recharge aquifers and improve natural water storage, promotion of practices like agroforestry that increase the efficiency of water use, and restoration of coastal wetlands that reduce saltwater intrusion.

Case Examples

  • The Conserving Ecosystems to Support Climate Resilience in Bangladesh case study highlights how EbA approaches such as agroforestry, the restoration of wetlands, and improvements in the management of wild fisheries can improve local food security.
  • EbA approaches in the Maintaining Water Security in Peru Through Green Infrastructure case study focused on green infrastructure to help local communities adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • USAID/Dominican Republic works to jointly promote climate adaptation and resilience to address a lack of adequate sanitation and wastewater treatment facilities, which limits the population’s access to clean water and presents a key threat to the country’s coastal biodiversity in the form of untreated sewage.

Other Resources

  • USAID/Peru’s Natural Infrastructure for Water Security project seeks to enable the Government of Peru to better manage its natural resources in order to increase water security and provide a sustainable economic future for its citizens while also reducing migration and the risk of internal conflicts.
  • The Green Infrastructure Resource Guide provides USAID practitioners involved in the planning and development of sustainable infrastructure projects with a better understanding of green infrastructure interventions that can be integrated into USAID projects to support water resources conservation, groundwater recharge, and water supply maintenance, among other goals.

Photo by: Caroline Simmonds.

Sustainable Landscapes

Sound management of land and forests sustains livelihoods, strengthens resilience to natural hazards, and protects water resources and biodiversity, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land management.

Reports and Evidence

Case Examples

  • USAID/Peru’s Amazonia Verde project conserves biodiversity and ecosystem services in priority areas of the Peruvian Amazon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and land use change.
  • USAID/South America Regional’s Amazon Regional Environment Program identified support to Indigenous Peoples as a key strategic approach for integrating biodiversity conservation and sustainable landscapes and used political economy analysis to inform programming decisions and activity design.
  • The USAID/Caribbean Development Program’s Iguana Habitat Restoration small grant activity integrates biodiversity conservation, climate risk management, and sustainable landscapes, activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land use sector.
  • The Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) evolved from one of USAID’s largest biodiversity programs to an integrated program that is achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable landscapes goals while also advancing democracy, human rights, and governance and economic considerations.
  • USAID/Indonesia’s LESTARI activity combines sustainable landscapes and biodiversity conservation objectives through an interdependent vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving terrestrial biodiversity conservation by integrating sustainable land-use planning and forest conservation in Indonesia’s most carbon- and biodiversity-rich forests on Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Papua.
  • USAID/Philippines’ Protect Wildlife activity’s purposeful integration of biodiversity conservation, governance, and sustainable landscapes contributes to improved landscape management, local livelihoods, and human well-being, and also offers lessons learned on designing and implementing an integrated approach.

Photo by: Jason Houston for USAID.

Cross-Cutting Resources

The Biodiversity Reference Sheet describes opportunities for integrating biodiversity with other development sectors that exist throughout the USAID portfolio, and can be realized by the coordination of existing programming, co-location of new activities, or planned co-funding. The full biodiversity integration reference sheet series includes resources for health, water and sanitation, food security, and democracy, human rights, and governance.

Integrating Ecosystem Values into Cost-Benefit Analysis: Recommendations for USAID and Practitioners provides recommendations for the incorporation of ecosystem service valuations into Agency cost-benefit analysis (CBA) across sectors, both for USAID staff that produce or use CBAs and for USAID as an institution.

Better Biodiversity Integration Through Geospatial Analysis describes the use of geospatial analysis for integrating biodiversity conservation with other development sectors at USAID.

Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) Sections 118/119 Tropical Forest and Biodiversity Analysis Best Practices Guide includes a scope of work template and an annotated analysis outline to help missions prepare for, manage, and conduct an FAA 118/119 analysis and understand how to use that report to support strategy development.

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Integration. Coming Soon!

USAID's Ecosystem-based Adaptation Series Synthesis describes a nature-based method for climate change adaptation that can reduce the vulnerability of people, natural systems, and economies to climate stressors. EbA provides flexible and cost-effective approaches that enhance resilience through the improved management and conservation of ecosystems. EbA can be an effective adaptation strategy alone or as an element of broader national, regional, and community adaptation plans. The synthesis summarizes a full series of EbA evidence summaries and case studies.

A farmer plants mangroves around her rice farm to protect it from extreme weather in Bonthe, Sierra Leone. Photo by: Thomas Lebbie.