Finding the right place: how to scale up and finance ecosystem-based adaptation


Banjul, Gambia. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Protecting and restoring landscapes and building sustainable agroforestry systems is a powerful way to build resilience to climate change and extreme weather events while supporting billions of livelihoods.

Integrated into the international framework on climate change in 2011 at COP17, adaptation became an area of ​​particular interest at the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where a work program was established to define the specific global goals related to it.

At the Center for International Forestry Research and Global Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), scientists are working to develop adaptation strategies based on robust ecosystems.

They must be part of holistic systems approaches integrated into economic, political and social strategies, said Patrick Worms, senior science policy adviser at CIFOR-ICRAF, who led a side discussion at a side event at COP26.

“We need to build ecosystem adaptation – just like we need to build mitigation – into how the economy works, how government works, how everything works, as we try to stop carbon build-up. , degradation of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, ”said Worms.

Lalisa Duguma, scientist in the CIFOR-ICRAF Sustainable Landscapes and Integrated Climate Actions team, is working on a large-scale ecosystem adaptation project funded by the multi-billion dollar Green Climate Fund (GCF) that aims to promote the climate resilience of rural communities in The Gambia.

A difficulty in working in African countries is that climate data is scarce and inconsistent, making it difficult to determine the extent of interventions needed.

“Most are based on global datasets reduced to the local context, but in this downscaling process many contextual realities are missing, which could better inform the design process,” Duguma said.

Other challenges involve a lack of human resources and institutional capacity to implement adaptation actions, the mismatch of resources and how to measure the impact of interventions.

“In most of the ongoing adaptation actions, there is no clear strategy for scaling up – how should scaling go forward,” he said. he declares.

To address some of the capacity and infrastructure challenges, a baseline for tree cover has been established, leading to investments in nine central nurseries and 100 million seedlings per year, said Malanding Jaiteh, who manages the project. restoration of the Gambian forest of 20 million dollars over six years. on behalf of the country’s Ministry of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.

Another challenge is livestock grazing which can compromise restoration efforts, making it difficult to plan and establish. He is free in The Gambia, and even takes on an international dimension because nomadic herders sometimes enter the country from Senegal.

“Transmigration presents serious challenges, especially for our newly established seedlings or our newly established planting areas – farmers can plant in farmland, but as soon as they are gone, or two years later, you know, a other population can come in and start destroying them, ”Jaiteh said.

Fires are also damaging and resource intensive, requiring a long-term fire management system, he said.

In the Indian state of Maharashtra, where the monoculture of cotton and sugarcane has made farmers vulnerable to climate change, a multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral approach is working, said Arjuna Srinidhi, Associate Thematic Officer for Adaptation. climate change at the Watershed Organization Trust.

More than 80 percent of the state is dryland rainfed, where the frequency of droughts has increased seven-fold over the past 50 years, Srinidhi said. Flooding is also a problem and, due to erratic weather conditions, adds to the vulnerability of farmers. More than 40 percent of the land is degraded and the groundwater level is rapidly declining by 1 to 2 meters each year. More than three quarters of farmers are smallholders with less than 2 hectares of land, so their adaptive capacities are limited, he said.

Integrating ecosystem-based adaptation strategies into government policies and programs is essential, but we also learned that watershed development is vital.

“This collaborative process has resulted in an evidence-based and demand-driven roadmap for scale-up,” Srinidhi said. “There have been several lessons we have learned over the past two years, the unanimous acceptance of a roadmap from various stakeholders – generating buy-in from the early stages of the project was crucial. “

Serah Kiragu-Wissler, Associate Researcher at TMG Think Tank for Sustainability, observed that capacity building and extension services are essential. Farmers she worked with said they needed continued support for adaptation efforts. Land rights are also essential for soil protection, Kiragu-Wissler said, citing examples from Burkina Faso and Kenya.

“Farmers cannot develop much interest in soil protection if they have no security over the tenure of the land they are working on,” she said. They clear their land that season they plant and the next season they’re not really there. So what will motivate them to haul loads of manure from the village to the fields if they cannot be assured that it will be there for you know, two, three, four seasons? “

By setting up a community-led institution to manage land use, guidelines were introduced that helped secure access to land for women and youth. Now recognized by local government, it is under consideration by other jurisdictions.


Securing adequate funding for ecosystem-based adaptation projects is also a challenge, not least because of its innovative aspects and the fact that so many proposals have not been proven successful.

“Banks, investors and insurance companies need to make better decisions by assessing the impacts and dependencies on the nature and materiality of climate risks,” said Namita Vikas, CEO of auctusESG, a Mumbai-based financial consultancy firm. “By deploying capital goods, and investigations, given the effectiveness of such solutions. Adaptation, finance, is going beyond the status quo and integrating the possible effects of climate change into the design of an activity.

Andreas Reumann, who works for the GCF – created as part of the United Nations climate negotiations to help poor countries pursue clean growth and adapt to global warming – is an expert in designing monitoring systems that measure the results.

The fund conducted with partners a review of the global evidence on adaptation and forestry activities, which revealed gaps in the understanding of what works in a specific context.

From this, a two-dimensional matrix was created, which illustrated an imbalance in the geographic distribution of information. He also highlighted the issue of enabling environments – and how to engage the political arena, which is a topic that has yet to be explored, Reumann said.

“As evaluators, we think about these issues and tackle them,” he added. “It takes more knowledge sharing, stronger evidence and more collaboration on the ground to really understand what matters. “

Creating datasets has proven to be effective, said Nitin Pandit, director of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment. By identifying 13 million hectares of land, with 100 million households, just outside the protected areas of the Indian peninsula, and working with partners, the accumulated data is fed back to the financiers.

“So they know there is a benefit to that because there is a scale that we are already planning from day one,” said Pandit, sharing an image of large-scale elephants, which are made by artisans. from lantana wood, an invasive species. Sold at full price, the elephants were displayed outside Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace in London.

“The type of added value that we can bring by using the available resources must encourage people to really engage in adaptation, and therefore require the type of funding necessary to support this type of work,” he said. declared.

For adaptation initiatives to be effective, it is essential to build dialogue processes and co-generate an evidence base with government ministries, said Jessica Troni, Senior Program Officer responsible for the Adaptation Portfolio in Africa. climate change from the United Nations Environment Program – Global Environment Facility. Budgets and systems thinking should be integrated to determine how project objectives can be integrated into national development plans.

“Mainstreaming should mean that every chapter of your national development plan is focused on building resilience to adaptation – you can then create budget support mechanisms that can absorb larger investment flows,” Troni said.

Promises to increase the coffers for adaptation ambitions were made at COP26 with the aim of making up for the shortfall of the $ 100 billion per year by 2020 pledged at COP17 as part of the efforts aimed at avoiding, minimizing and addressing the loss and damage already caused by climate change.

“The wonderful thing is that it is extremely difficult to do land-based mitigation measures without, at the same time, strengthening the capacity of those lands to adapt to climate change, its biodiversity or its ability to provide a range of nutritious foods and other products, ”Worms mentioned. “So the solution is not rocket science, but something much more difficult: the ability of our institutional systems to work through silos to jointly manage this fragile planet of ours.”

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