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Ecosystem-based adaptation for beginners edX MOOC course

This EbA course will equip learners with transferable and replicable skills in designing and implementing EbA initiatives by offering targeted training on key principles, risk assessments, monitoring, and governance.
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Course teaser
Course Teaser | Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Time commitment: 18 hours over 9 weeks
  • Learning product: online MOOC course (self-paced)
  • Sector: agriculture, energy, water, infra-structure
  • Language: English, French and Spanish
  • Certificate available: from GIZ, IUCN, IISD from edX website

This course is hosted on SDGAcademyX. Please find the Ecosystem-based adaptation: Working with nature to adapt to a changing climate, where you can enrol for full access and also find a link to access the course in French and Spanish (from March 2024).


Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA); also known as nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation) is increasingly gaining policy support and being implemented by diverse actors around the world. EbA is defined as “the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.” It involves the conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of ecosystems, thereby enhancing the resilience of ecosystems and communities to climate-related risks. EbA has broad applications across diverse sectors in fostering sustainable development and can help achieve multiple benefits for nature and human well-being.

While EbA guidebooks, case studies, and principles have contributed to standardising the EbA approach, there is a clear need for further training opportunities to strengthen EbA implementation across diverse sectors while ensuring that rights-based approaches, gender equity, and better outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystems are achieved.

This EbA course, developed for a global audience, will equip learners with transferable and replicable skills in designing and implementing EbA initiatives by offering targeted training on key principles, risk assessments, monitoring, and governance. A key aim of the course is to increase EbA knowledge outside of the environmental conservation community, helping participants integrate EbA solutions into other sectors—including infrastructure, water, agriculture, public works, and social development—to better link research and science with practice.

*This article provides an overview of the course. The full course with all learning material, video and discussions will be available to participate in with others over 9 weeks from 10 October 2022. From October 2023 the course will be archived with some learning material continuing to be available. The course can be accessed herethrough a free registration on the edX site.

Institutional background and trainer

The EbA MOOC is the product of a collaboration between Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). It builds on a decade of research, experience, and strong partnerships in implementing EbA.

Who would find this useful

The fself-paced courseequips learners with transferable and replicable skills in designing and implementing EbA initiatives by offering targeted training on key principles, risk assessments, monitoring, and governance. A core focus of the course lies in four cross-cutting topics—gender, governance, local and Indigenous knowledge, and biodiversity—which are addressed both in independent modules and throughout other course units.

The course targets decision-makers in public and private organisations; professionals who may not be familiar with EbA but who work in a related field (development, infrastructure, agriculture, integrated water resources management); civil society organisations; actors at community, national, and global scales; early-career EbA professionals, current students, and university faculty; and EbA practitioners from both the Global North and Global South.

Training material

Theself-paced coursefeatures nine units comprised of video lectures, case studies, quizzes, and handouts.

Module 1: Introduction to the Course – A brief introduction and rationale for the course.

Module 2: What is EbA?

Introduces the concept of EbA and its basic elements and provides an overview of common terms used in the EbA realm.

  • 2.1 Terminology and concepts
  • 2.2 What is EbA?
  • 2.3 EbA helps people adapt to climate change
  • 2.4 EbA makes use of biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • 2.5 EbA is part of an overall adaptation strategy
  • 2.6 EbA in the context of sustainable development
  • Module 2 Case Study: Restoring mangroves, Mexico

Module 3: The EbA Mainstreaming Framework

Presents a framework for developing and mainstreaming an EbA project and highlights five cross-cutting topics of EbA.

  • 3.1 Mainstreaming an EbA project
  • 3.2 Conceptualising an EbA project
  • 3.3 Climate justice
  • 3.4 Governance
  • 3.5 Gender
  • 3.6 Traditional knowledge and Indigenous and local knowledge
  • 3.7 Communications
  • Module 3 Case Study: Forest resilience and livelihoods, Nepal

Module 4: Assessing Climate Risks

Guidance on the process of preparing a climate risk assessment and its importance in identifying potential EbA actions.

  • 4.1 Assessing climate risks
  • 4.2 Preparing a climate risk assessment
  • 4.3 Identifying and adding indicators
  • 4.4 Identifying EbA options
  • Module 4 Case Study: Flood risk assessment, Togo and Benin

Module 5: EbA Valuation

Focuses on the valuation process of EbA, including its costs, benefits and impacts. The ability of valuation to prioritise EbA actions is also discussed.

  • 5.1 What is EbA valuation and why is it importance?
  • 5.2 The basic elements of EbA value
  • 5.3 Valuation in the EbA Mainstreaming Framework
  • Module 5 Case Study: Cost-benefit analysis, Vanuatu

Module 6: From Theory to Practice: Implementing EbA

Highlights the importance of aligning EbA with relevant policies, and provides examples from different ecosystems and sectors.

  • 6.1 Learning objectives
  • 6.2 Stakeholder analysis
  • 6.3 Reviewing the policy context
  • 6.4 EbA in action: Examples from different ecosystems
  • 6.5 EbA in action: Examples from different sectors
  • 6.6 Funding for EbA
  • Module 6 Case Study: Land restoration, Inner Mongolia

Module 7: Tracking the Progress of EbA Implementation: Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Discusses a four-step process for monitoring and evaluation in EbA projects and its importance in EbA.

  • 7.1 Introduction to monitoring and evaluation
  • 7.2 Developing a results framework
  • 7.3 Defining indicators, baselines, and targets
  • 7.4 Operationalising monitoring and evaluation
  • 7.5 Using and communicating results
  • Module 7 Case Study: Monitoring and evaluation, South Africa

Module 8: Cross-cutting Inisghts

Allows participants to progress through four insight units, which offer further information on the cross-cutting themes of governance, gender, Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous and Local Knowledge, and biodiversity.

  • 8.1 EbA and Governance
  • 8.2 EbA and Gender
  • 8.3 EbA and Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK)
  • 8.4 EbA and Biodiversity

Module 9: Sectoral Insights

An option to select additional sector-specific insight units from any combination of the following topics: EbA and agriculture, EbA and water, and urban EbA.

  • 9.1 EbA and Agriculture
  • 9.2 EbA and Water
  • 9.3 Urban EbA

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Understand the role of EbA within an overall climate change adaptation strategy.
  • Be able to plan EbA activities in a logical order and apply EbA best practices.
  • Consider and integrate social aspects, such as gender, livelihoods, and traditional knowledge, into EbA projects.
  • Understand how to mainstream EbA across sectors.

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