Friday, 15 June 2012

Adapting to climate change through the ecosystem based approach

Story by Mr. Evan Wasuka, One Television, Solomon Islands

Panel discusion on ecosystem based adaptation at Rio+20 side event

15 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - The effectiveness of an ecosystem based adaptation approach to deal with the impacts of climate change was highlighted by conservation groups at a Rio+20 side event in Brazil.

In the Pacific, Ecosystems Based Adaptation or EBA's include the use of plants such as mangroves to deal with coastal erosion, in place of or alongside engineering structures, such as sea walls.

Mr. Sefanaia Nawadra of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP, says EBA's offer a valuable and cost effective means of dealing with the impacts of climate change.

"It’s something that needs to be considered instead of taking the hard engineering option only. In the long run it might be the cheaper and beneficial option."

One of the cases highlighted at the side event is a Fiji based initiative between the United Nations Environmental Programme, SPREP and the United Nations for Habitat.

The project looked at the best options for adaptation for the community in dealing with flooding, coastal erosion and impacts of climate change.

The project looked at how the surrounding ecosystem was being utilised by the community for food, fuel, and materials for shelter.

Dr Jacqueline Alder of the UNEP, says the preliminary findings from the Lami project clearly showed the benefits that the local community would gain from EBAs.

"We came up with values for what services the ecosystems were providing, such as the use of the mangroves for fishing, charcoal and timber."

The project put the contributions of the ecosystem into dollar figures and its affordability by the community.

The value of the services provided by the ecosystem was worth over US$100,000 per household but their income was between USD 10,000 –15,000 a year.

"If you remove the ecosystems, such as the mangroves the communities cannot afford to replace it. They don't have income to buy their charcoal for fuel or fish for food."

Alder says EBA's offer a valuable adaptation option but each situation is unique and there is no one size fits all solution.

Nawadra says EBA's should be considered in areas away from the city where a softer approach is justified, rather than a major engineering work.

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