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Catalogue of Ecosystem-based Adaptation Measures in Mountains

Explore the experiences of using Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) to build climate resilience in three mountain ranges. The catalogue provides practical information on these experiences to inform NbS practitioners, decision-makers, project designers and managers, researchers and local communities.
Catalogue full cover photo


Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is a well-recognized approach for building resilience to climate change in mountain ecosystems around the world. The concept was defined back in 2009 by the Convention of Biological Diversity as the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Over a decade after, this approach has been widely implemented across continents and on diverse landscapes, generating evidence on its effectiveness and contributing to national and local policies as a Nature-based Solution (NbS) for climate change adaptation. Opportunities for climate resilient development are not equitably distributed around the world. In mountain regions, climate impacts and risks exacerbate vulnerability and social and economic inequities.

Nevertheless, mountain communities have the capacity to adapt to changes and mitigate these impacts, not only for their local benefit, but also for communities downstream. In fact, mountain areas ranked very highly in a study examining the capacity of ecosystems to supply 15 selected ecosystem services, mostly provisioning (freshwater, food and fibre, medicinal plants, fodder, timber, etc.) and regulating (climate, water flow and erosion, natural hazards, pollination, pest control, etc.). Therefore, the opportunities for utilizing ecosystem services to build climate-resilience in these areas of the world are myriad.

The purpose of this publication is to present and showcase the experiences from the Programme Scaling Up Mountain Ecosystem-based Adaptation: Building Evidence, Replicating Success, and Informing Policy. This Programme is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMUK), and jointly implemented by IUCN and The Mountain Institute from 2017 to 2019 and by IUCN from 2021 to 2022.

This weADAPT article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

About the Catalogue

The Catalogue of Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures in mountains focuses on the work done in three mountainous regions of the world: the Andes (Perú), the Himalayas (Nepal) and Mount Elgon in East Africa (Uganda and Kenya). The catalogue aims to display EbA measures implemented in different sites along these regions, to share first-hand experiences and knowledge from project implementors, as well as testimonies from local beneficiaries.

Each EbA measure of the catalogue presents practical information in a concise manner, aiming to reach a broad range of users, including NbS practitioners, decision makers, project designers and managers, researchers and local communities.

According to their main area of intervention, the EbA measures in the catalogue are organized within three themes: resilient livelihoods, adaptative land management, and securing water resources. It is important to note that EbA is an integrated approach and all the EbA measures presented follow five selection criteria:

  • Reduces social and environmental vulnerabilities
  • Generates societal benefits in the context of climate change adaptation
  • Restores, maintains or improves ecosystem health
  • Is supported by policies at multiple levels
  • Supports equitable governance and enhances capacities
© Sudipti Parajuli

Outcomes and Impacts

The EbA measures presented in this catalogue contributed to improving coverage and condition of forests, wetlands and/or pasturelands, amongst other positive outcomes.

In Nepal the planned target of 850 hectares was generously exceeded by achieving 7,000 hectares. Similarly in Perú, where 8,881 hectares were achieved, and in Uganda 2,076 hectares are expected to be improved by the project’s closure.

Another expected outcome was the number of local, national or sub-national policy documents and processes that included information on Mountain EbA approaches, principles, and/ or methods generated by the project. The achievements included four local and four national plans in Nepal; three local and one national plans in Perú; one local plan, two national plans and one law in Uganda; and one national plan in Kenya.

In addition, the establishment of long-term partnerships with local, regional and national governments and with other agencies developed synergies. This is seen in Nepal where a series of EbA-based projects are now being implemented by the Ministry of Forests and Environment, UNEP and IUCN.

The EbA measures that were implemented also had a significant impact on restoring and conserving biodiversity. Nearly 90% of the interviewees stated that the project had conserved biodiversity by restoring and better managing degraded ecosystems. Linkages to biodiversity were observed qualitatively and some of the species supported by the EbA measures were:

  • Nepal: Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum), Himalayan oak (Quercus lanata), Broom grass (Thysanolaena nees), Satuwa (Paris polyphylla) and the flying spider-monkey tree fern (Alsophila spinulosa)
  • Perú: Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) and Taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis)
  • Uganda: Sesban (Sesbania sesban), red calliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus), Flemingia sp, Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and bamboo.

The EbA measures implemented also provide a range of co-benefits. For instance, in Kenya, while implementing the EbA measure, IUCN played an essential role of peacekeeper between the Ogiek and the local government. In 2000, part of the Ogiek people’s ancestral lands was annexed into the Chepkitale National Reserve and after years of dispute and distrust the Ogiek finally won this landmark case in September 2022.


Due to the long-term sustainability approach of EbA, many of the measures’ impacts are expected to be continue in the future. In June 2022 an impact evaluation carried out as an appreciative inquiry for the generation of lessons learned, provided much insight into what has been achieved so far. Part of the assessment involved interviewing stakeholders from the different countries.

The majority of those interviewed stated that the project was successful, and that their countries are becoming champions of EbA. At the community level, there is both human and economic empowerment through EbA actions. The project has ensured active community participation and now it is possible to appreciate how this participation translates into community ownership. Moreover, benefits from implemented EbA measures are now measurable and there is evidence that has informed the development of a number of national level plans and programs.

Overall, the Programme showed considerable strength and flexibility to continue work and policy advocacy despite the COVID-19 pandemic, government reshuffles in many countries and other challenges

Thanks to the efforts of each team to continue the implementation of EbA measures, flagship countries have now become champions of EbA and laid the groundwork for commencing EbA implementation in other areas.

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