Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Enhanced Resilience in Southern Africa: Synthesis Report

Despite the climate change commitments made under the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, the world will continue to experience negative climate impacts. As such, pre-emptive adaptation planning is necessary to build and sustain countries’ social, economic and environmental resilience. For vulnerable coastal and island states, this can be done through the enhanced sustainable management, restoration and conservation of their marine and coastal ecosystems. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) – or ecosystem-based approaches to climate adaptation – 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 shocks and stresses – maintaining and, where possible, improving the quality and quantity of ecosystem services they provide to society – and in so doing supporting human communities to adapt to current and future climate risks. This research seeks to address this evidence gap by undertaking national reviews of EbA experiences emerging from different countries in Southern Africa. Although it is recognised that all adaptation efforts take place in very specific contexts, the country reviews encourage peer learning and highlight common political, policy and institutional conditions that maximise the uptake of EbA. At the local level, this evidence can help build capacity and assist people to implement transformational adaptation on the ground. At a national level it may encourage the integration of EbA approaches into the wider policy discourse and help increase funding for EbA programmes and initiatives. The objective of the research is ‘to enhance the climate resilience of the Southern African region by strengthening the role of marine and coastal ecosystem-based adaptation in national climate responses’. It focuses on marine and coastal EbA in Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania. Although marine and coastal ecosystems vary, for the purposes of this report the marine and coastal ecosystems that are most prominent in the Western Indian Ocean include mangrove forests, tidal marshes, wetlands, estuaries, coral reefs, seagrasses and kelp and coastal dunes.