Ecosystem-based solutions for disaster risk reduction: lessons from European applications of ecosystem-based adaptation measures

A McVittie, LJ Cole, A Wreford, A Sgobbi, B Yordi

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65 Citations (Scopus)
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Disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation are connected through a common goal: reducing the impacts of extreme events and increasing resilience to disasters, particularly among vulnerable populations. By coordinating adaptation and disaster risk management policies, multiple benefits can be achieved. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) offers a cost-effective adaptation and DRR at different scales and under multiple scenarios. EbA uses natural or managed ecosystem processes to increase resilience and adaptation to climate change. EbA delivers other benefits, including mitigating greenhouse gases, and improving biodiversity, water and air quality. These co-benefits can be the primary driver for implementation and reflect related policy objectives. EbA are also associated with different land use or habitat types (e.g. agriculture, forestry, coastal, urban, or freshwater ecosystems). This paper considers the lessons learnt from implementing EbA across a range of land uses. However, implementation frequently applies multiple measures across land uses and at varying scales. The evidence indicates that adaptation and DRR are achievable cost-effectively whilst providing important co-benefits. Demonstrating these co-benefits ensures both stakeholder support and funding opportunities. Further, the mainstreaming of nature-based solutions across policy areas linked to different co-benefits both increases the acceptability of EbA and also opens up multiple funding sources. Key to the success of EbA is the involvement of stakeholders throughout the implementation process; this can include demonstrating private benefits and utilising trusted intermediaries. However, gaps often remain in our knowledge of the biophysical and economic benefits, or negative impacts, of EbA indicating that research and monitoring remain a priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42 - 54
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date27 Dec 2017
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note



  • Climate adaptation
  • Disaster risk management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem-based approaches


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