Ecosystem-based approach: The case of Meghalaya | India Water Portal
Communities have been adapting to climate variability for centuries, but today their coping mechanisms are being outpaced by the fast-changing climate. In response to global climate change impacts, most countries have focused on ‘hard’ or ‘grey’ infrastructure options such as embankments for flood control or new reservoirs to cope with water shortages.
These options can be costly to build and maintain, and generally do not take the benefits of Ecosystem-based Approaches (EbA) into account.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), EbA involves the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems as cost-effective solutions that can help people adapt to the impacts of climate change. Examples of such nature-based solutions to climate change include sustainable agriculture, integrated water resource management and sustainable forest management. Harnessing the power of nature can bring in benefits to human communities and natural systems.
- It emphasizes water as a socio-economic connector and indicator that interlinks sectors like agriculture, energy, biodiversity through actor-sector synergy and inter-sectoral convergence.
- EbA harnesses biodiversity and ecosystem services to increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of human communities and natural systems to climate change.
- Healthy ecosystems such as intact forests, wetlands and coastal areas provide many benefits to local communities including firewood, clean water, medicines, shelter and food. They can also form physical barriers against extreme weather events such as cyclones and storm surges.
- EbA restores ecological integrity through effective ecosystem management and contributes to biodiversity conservation and local economies through healthy ecosystems.
- Though primarily an adaptation approach, EbA can also contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing the emissions that transpire from habitat loss and ecosystem degradation.