It is clear that climate change and poverty are two separate problems that affect all corners of the world, but can the solution to one help eliminate the other? Richard Munang and Jessica Andrews, authors of "Harnessing Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: To Address the Social Dimensions of Climate Change," published in Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, think that we can.
Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) is becoming more widely recognized as a possible solution to addressing climate change. "EbA is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation to help people and communities adapt to the negative effects of climate change at local, regional, and global levels." It works by providing sustainable social benefits for a local community within climate change adaptation practices. This idea understands the relationship and interconnectivity between many different facets of life; ecological, social/cultural, economic, and institutional.
EbA is built to successfully implement sustained social and environmental achievements. Developing a community's resilience in the face of climate change impacts improves the wellness of the entire ecosystem. "EbA can accelerate income gains, improve health, and secure food production, all while ensuring the sustainable development of local resources." Munang and Andrews provide examples where this program has been successful. In Togo, Africa, EbA aided in the revitalization of water reservoirs, as well as cereal and vegetable production in the savannah region, directly benefiting women and youth groups. The extraordinary and integral component of this program is the collaboration between nongovernmental and civil society organizations (NGOs and CSOs, respectively) and the local community. This resulted in improved access to water, an array of social benefits, and a trained community competent to take an active role in future resilience efforts.
However, there are some problems. The success of EbA depends largely on the involvement of the local community in the planning and implementation process, while also taking into consideration the overall political context and land use conflicts. Also, the concept of EbA is relatively new and needs to be fully understood by the public, and there needs to be development to provide further evidence of the success of the program.
Although this program does have its setbacks and limitations, it provides a plan to combat climate change while uplifting poverty stricken communities most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change.
- Richard Munang, Jesica Andrews, Keith Alverson, Desta Mebratu. Harnessing Ecosystem-based Adaptation To Address the Social Dimensions of Climate Change. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 2014; 56 (1): 18 DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2014.861676
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