By switching to dark mode you can reduce the energy consumption of our digital service.

Integrated ecosystems in resilience practice: criteria for ecosystem-smart disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

Co-developing indicators for monitoring the effectiveness of the climate service TAG: climate service indicators
Diego Pons


The integration of ecosystems and natural resource management in disaster risk reduction (DRR) has been largely overlooked to date. This document introduces a set of criteria, which can be used by policy makers and practitioners to better integrate the management of ecosystems and natural resources in their DRR work.

The criteria describe the required steps to develop an ‘ecosystem-smart’ approach in the design, implementation and evaluation of risk reduction programmes. They provide guidance on the required capacities, partnerships, institutional set-up and planning needs.

The criteria were developed in the context of the Partners for Resilience alliance, which aims to reduce the impact of natural hazards on the livelihoods of around 400,000 vulnerable people worldwide. This alliance is one of the first large-scale efforts to bring together expertise from the humanitarian, development and environment sectors into a holistic risk reduction and climate change adaptation (CCA) programme. Following the criteria will help to integrate these disciplines, which will substantially increase the sustainability and effectiveness of risk reduction interventions. While this document focuses on disaster risk reduction, the criteria are equally applicable to guide the integration of environmental considerations into climate change adaptation planning processes.

Key messages

Criteria for Ecosystem-Smart DRR and CCA will assist users to:

1. Assess and understand the interrelationships between ecosystem functioning and disaster risk, and to appreciate how improved land, water and natural resource management can increase community resilience;

2. Mobilise interdisciplinary teams capable of designing and implementing more inclusive risk reduction programmes, including vulnerability assessments that combine interventions from the humanitarian, development and environment sectors;

3. Understand how risk is expressed at different spatial scales, and how human interventions related to land, water and natural resource use may affect the vulnerability of communities elsewhere (within a river basin, along coastlines, etc.);

4. Establish policy dialogues with a broad range of stakeholders to advocate the wise use of ecosystem services and highlight the adverse consequences of unsustainable practices regarding disaster risk and community vulnerability;

5. Consider the environmental root causes of disaster risk, convening the right actors at the appropriate scales and clearly identifying institutional responsibilities and stakeholders’ roles. The document does not provide specific guidance on the technicalities behind selected ecosystem and natural resource management interventions. These are typically highly site-specific and no generalisations can be made.

Suggested citation

van Leeuwen, M., Rense, M., Jiménez, A., van Ejik, P., Vervest, Marie-Jose., 2014. Integrating ecosystems in resilience practice: Criteria for Ecosystem-Smart Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. Wetlands International.

This document is also available for download in Spanish, French and Bahasa Indonesia.

Related resources

Add your project

Exchange your climate change adaptation projects and lessons learned with the global community.