On 21–22 May 2019, the South-South Knowledge Exchange Workshop on Ecosystem-based Adaptation was organised as the closing event of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded “Ecosystem-based Adaptation through South-South Cooperation (EbA South)” project.
About 70 representatives from 11 countries and 5 international agencies, as well as Chinese scientists and researchers attended the workshop. It was organised by the UN Environment Programme - International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UNEP-IEMP), as the project management unit within the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IGSNRR, CAS).
The EbA South project was formally launched in Beijing in April 2013. Implemented by the UN Environment Programme and executed by the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), through the IGSNRR, CAS ,the project is reaching completion in 2019.
EbA South is considered a primary catalyst in facilitating global and regional collaboration to build climate resilience in developing countries through an ecosystem-based approach. The project has sought to increase institutional capacities, mobilise knowledge, and transfer appropriate adaptation technologies to three pilot countries within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
The workshop showcased the project’s key deliverables, highlighting the knowledge products that would leave a legacy for future EbA initiatives. These include the EbA planning tool “ALivE—Adaptation, Livelihoods and Ecosystems” (developed in partnership with IISD and IUCN), an EbA handbook for mountain, dryland, and coastal ecosystems (developed in partnership with IIED), an EbA research guide, and an EbA education curriculum guide.
In addition, key results from a range of capacity building events were shared. Among these, the high-level forum for promoting South-South Cooperation on Climate Change, initiated by the EbA South, have been widely recognised and, subsequently, adopted as a standing policy mechanism carried forward by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.
The pilot country teams also presented the main results of the EbA interventions implemented within the context of a strong science base and long-term research programmes. These include the establishment of a multi-use greenbelt using indigenous drought-resilient and soil-stabilising species to combat desertification of degraded arid/semi-arid land in Mauritania; restoration of mangroves and coastal wetlands to buffer against flooding and secure coastal livelihoods in Seychelles; and the development of large-scale plantations of climate-resilient seedlings for reforestation, enrichment and/or household agroforestry to improve livelihoods in Nepal. The transfer of knowledge from Chinese researchers to the pilot countries was a distinguishing feature of the project, and the importance of this contribution was highlighted.
Apart from the project results, the workshop provided a platform for the wider EbA community to exchange experiences and lessons. The panel discussions on South-South Cooperation on EbA; medium and long-term ecological, hydrological and socio-economic effects of EbA; and the mainstreaming of EbA into relevant national policies, strategies and legislation yielded fruitful ideas and wisdom that will benefit future EbA actions and opportunities. The lessons from the EbA South pilot countries are applicable in other countries facing similar challenges.
Prof. ZHANG Linxiu, Director of UNEP-IEMP, delivered the closing remarks, expressing her gratitude for the wealth of exchanges. In addition, she encouraged the partnerships built throughout the project’s lifetime to continue and hoped the legacy of the project would nurture expanded collaboration. “Climate change continues, and so adaptation needs to continue.”
Group picture of South-South Knowledge Exchange Workshop on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (Image by UNEP-IEMP)