Region or Country: East Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda

Donor: UK Government’s Darwin Initiative

Duration: April 2012 – March 2015

Focal Area: Ecosystem-based approaches for climate change adaptation awareness raising, capacity building and implementation.

Collaborators: BirdLife International Secretariat (UK), Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux (ABO), Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR), Nature Kenya, NatureUganda, BirdLife International Africa Partnership Secretariat.

Project Description: This project will work through the four BirdLife Partners to raise awareness of ecosystem-based approaches for adaptation to climate change (EbA) and build on-the-ground and policy implementation capacity within government and civil society. This will be achieved through the use of global best practice guidance, national information and policy reviews, training workshops, establishment of national stakeholder groups, and case study sites. Regional, national and local level guidance will be developed, and the evidence-base for such approaches furthered through case study site work.

Overall Goal: Biodiversity conservation and societal benefits enhanced through effective implementation of EbA in East Africa.

Rationale: EbA are the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems as part of an overall adaptation strategy can maintain and restore ‘nature’ or ‘green’ infrastructure such as mangroves and watershed vegetation to reduce vulnerability to storm surges and rising sea levels, and changing precipitation patterns respectively, whilst reducing biodiversity loss, and maintaining or enhancing ecosystem function.

Furthermore, such approaches can improve the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystems to climate change so that they can continue to provide a full suite of ecosystem services. This is particularly important for sustaining natural resources on which vulnerable communities depend for their subsistence and livelihoods and for providing alternative livelihoods in the face of climatic uncertainty.

Many national climate change/adaptation strategies do not yet fully integrate ecosystems. To do this is a challenge for many governments because of: limited awareness of EbA and understanding of term; lack of access to evidence and examples of EbA’s social, environmental and economic benefits and costs; limited capacity for EbA implementation, particularly cross-sectorally.

There is an urgent need to strengthen climate change adaptation policies in the region, with two immediate opportunities available for the appropriate integration of EbA:

i) United Nations Convention on Biological Biodiversity (UNCBD): National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) review process as agreed by CBD COP10, particularly relevant are Aichi Targets 11 (areas of importance for ecosystem services protected), 14 (ecosystems that provide essential services are restored), 15 (ecosystem resilience enhanced to contribute to adaptation). Uganda is currently reviewing its NBSAP;

ii) Least Developed Countries building on National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) to develop National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), a process established at UNFCCC COP17 (or in the case of Kenya, National Climate Change Response Strategy).

At a national level there is considerable potential for NBSAPs and NAPs/NAPAs to inform and mutually support one another, and this is also essential for the plans’ success – but these linkages need to be actively promoted and made effective.


Awareness of EbA raised and implementation capacity built within government and civil society.

  1. Establish national stakeholder working groups
  2. Review examples of EbA in each country
  3. National targeted training workshops

National partnerships built for effective implementation of EbA.

  1. BirdLife and government national reviews of current adaptation policies and plans
  2. Develop government and civil society partnership through workshops, meetings and presentations on project materials

Improved information and quantitative evidence of the benefits to be derived from ecosystem-based Approaches for adaptation in four countries.

  1. Adapt global best practice on EbA to develop regional and national guidance
  2. Identify with Local Conservation Groups and others one case study site in each project country to undertake
  3. Participatory vulnerability assessment and demonstrate the value of ecosystems for adaptation.
  4. Develop a national indicator for a relevant Aichi-Nagoya Target (particularly 11,14,15) for NBSAP process

Experience and best practice examples and guidance on the successful application of EbA widely disseminated and contributing to regional (AMCEN, NEPAD, East African Community) and international climate change processes, specifically the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  1. Local experience-based guidance developed
  2. Case studies, guidance, policy briefs circulated and fed into local, national, regional and international processes.
NatureUganda is the Birdlife International Partner and a member of IUCN