Draft Principles and Guidelines for Integrating Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Adaptation in Project and Policy Design

Submitted by Emilia Pramova | published 20th Feb 2012 | last updated 5th Jan 2023

Ecosystem-based approaches to reduce social vulnerability are a promising option for sustainable and efficient adaptation to climate change. Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) takes into account the role of ecosystem services in reducing societal vulnerability through multi-sectoral and multi-level approaches, while considering diverse social, economic and cultural co-benefits for local communities.

The draft principles for integrating EbA in climate change planning, and the draft foundation guidelines for designing EbA projects, were developed by a group of organizations during a workshop and meeting held in Costa Rica in June 2011. They were developed with the purpose of initiating a more formal and iterative process for elaborating ecosystem-based adaptation guidelines which can be discussed at various international and regional events, and between other organizations.

The principles and guidelines are summarized as follows.

Core Principles for Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Adaptation


  1. Is about promoting the resilience of both ecosystems and societies.
  2. Promotes multi-sectoral approaches.
  3. Operates at multiple geographical scales.
  4. Integrates flexible management structures that enable adaptive management.
  5. Minimizes tradeoffs and maximizes benefits with development and conservation goals to avoid unintended negative social and environmental impacts.
  6. Is based on best available science and local knowledge, and fosters knowledge generation and diffusion.
  7. Is about resilient ecosystems, and using nature-based solutions at the service of people, especially the most vulnerable.
  8. Is participatory, transparent, accountable, and culturally appropriate and actively embraces equity and gender issues.

Core Guidelines for Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Adaptation

  1. Prepare project structure.
  2. Gather relevant data and expertise.
  3. Conduct integrated vulnerability assessments and impact projections with flexible criteria that address the linkages between human and environmental systems.
  4. Locate projects within robust national and sub-national frameworks to enhance long term chances of success.
  5. Proceed with integrated planning
  6. Ensure the sustainability of monitoring and adaptive management.


More information and details on the above principles and guidelines can be obtained by downloading the related policy brief and discussion document.

Andrade A., Córdoba R., Dave R., Girot P., Herrera-F B., Munroe R., Oglethorpe J., Pramova E., Watson J., Vergara W., 2011. Draft Principles and Guidelines for Integrating Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Adaptation in Project and Policy Design: A Discussion Document. CEM/IUCN, CATIE. Kenya.

Organizations currently involved

Further resources

Draft Principles and Guidelines for EbA - discussion document

Draft Principles and Guidelines for EbA - policy brief