Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation for enhanced resilience in Southern Africa

SAIIA, with the support of the UK Department of International Development (DfID) and the Southern Africa Trust, has implemented a project that seeks to support ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in Southern Africa. The objective of the project is to enhance the climate resilience of the Southern African region by strengthening the role of marine and coastal EbA in national climate responses.

EbA is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. EbA involves governing and managing ecosystems to enhance their resilience to climatic stresses – maintaining, and where possible, improving the quality and quantity of the ecosystem services they provide to society – and in so doing supporting communities adapt to current and future climate risks. This contributes to achieving more sustainable forms of development, strengthening livelihoods to reduce poverty and minimise environmental degradation.

Despite their enormous value, the degradation of coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grasses, coastal dunes and wetlands continues unabated. Moreover, these marine and coastal ecosystems are not adequately represented in climate change response measures and need to be more fully integrated into national and sectoral policies, particularly in small island states and developing countries. The advancement of national climate adaptation strategies and the revision of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020 is an important opportunity to include marine and coastal ecosystems in official climate change responses.

There is significant potential to expand EbA in Africa. However, successful marine and coastal EbA requires several barriers to be addressed, namely policy development and alignment; regional cooperation; access to finance; capacity building; and improved partnerships with coastal communities and marginalised groupings.

Project description

Focusing on research, dialogue, policy alignment and capacity building activities, this project seeks to address the challenges of EbA policy uptake and implementation by supporting peer learning among four focus countries, namely South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Seychelles.

The project also supports the broader uptake of project lessons by working closely with the SADC Secretariat and other regional organisations such as the Nairobi Convention, WIOMSA, the Benguela Current Commission, African Union Commission, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

The project was initiated in April 2018 and was completed at the end August 2019.

Project activities

A regional policy conference was hosted in Johannesburg in January 2019. This brought together key representatives from our four focal countries and other key regional organisations. In addition, three capacity building and information dissemination workshops took place in the Seychelles, Mozambique and Tanzania, in partnership with local organisations. These offered national policy makers, NGOs and community-based organisations the opportunity to exchange EbA lessons and promote peer-to-peer learning. Other outreach activities were conducted to key regional institutions, include the Southern African Development Community Secretariat (SADC).

The key publication outputs of the project were a synthesis report and policy briefing.  These publications contain a high-level overview of marine and coastal EbA globally and, through case studies and best practice examples, explore specific marine and coastal EbA components such as the role of innovative financing models, enabling partnerships, and gender perspectives and in the region. This report outlines specific recommendations to improve the contribution of marine and coastal ecosystems within NDCs and other regional climate responses.

In addition, four in-depth national reviews were produced that explore marine and coastal EbA in policy and practice relating to opportunities and challenges in varying contexts. Research for the national reviews was conducted by in-country experts using desktop research methodology and direct stakeholder engagement (with policymakers, practitioners and sector experts at the national, provincial and local levels) in the four focus countries. Key insights of the country reviews were incorporated in the synthesis report and policy briefing.

A video was produced showcasing the messages from key project stakeholders and highlighting the importance of EbA for the region.

What next?

This project forms part of SAIIA’s long-standing engagement with regional policy stakeholders around climate change responses and sustainable blue economies, within the broader context of sustainable natural resource governance for development. The research and stakeholder relationships established through this project will be leveraged in ongoing activities relating to capacity building and policy development.

Learn more about SAIIA’s engagement on natural resource governance issues.

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Project outputs

Useful links

UK Department of International Development

The Department for International Development leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. It tackles several global challenges, including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict.

Southern Africa Trust

The Southern Africa Trust supports civil society organisations in Southern Africa to participate effectively and with credibility in policy dialogue so that the voices of the poor can have better impact in the development of public policies.

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