Why EbA in Urban Environments?

Healthy, functioning, and resilient ecosystems lay the foundation for sustainable economic development, food and water security, disaster risk reduction and climate action. The impacts of climate change pose unique risks to densely populated urban areas – and thus, the role of EbA as part of adaptation strategies in urban areas is critical. For the 1,692 global cities of 300,000 people or more, most urban infrastructure today is degraded and unable to provide adequate protection from extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions, making cities highly vulnerable to climate change. The urban poor are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events (GERICS,2015WAD, European Union, 2018).

Further, as the world population surpasses 8 billion, a growing proportion of humans are residing in urban areas. As much as 66% of the global population is projected to be living in cities by 2050, from 54% in 2015. A report by the International Resource Panel found that this demographic shift could result in the annual resource requirements of cities increase from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to almost 90 million in 2050. Most of this transition will take place in the Global South, especially in Asia and Africa, and will require a significant expansion of existing cities, as well as the construction of new cities (IRP, 2018).

What is more, with 65% of global cities located in non-dryland (humid) regions, analyses show that under a “business-as-usual” emissions scenario, 84% of them become drier in the near future (WAD, European Union, 2018). Meanwhile, about half of the cities and 50% of the population residing in dryland regions will experience drier trends and the other half will experience wetter events. 

In 2022, the IPCC released a report detailing the importance of urban EbA:

“An increasing number of adaptation responses exist for urban systems, but their feasibility and effectiveness is constrained by institutional, financial, and technological access and capacity, and depends on coordinated and contextually appropriate responses across physical, natural and social infrastructure. 

Globally, more financing is directed at physical infrastructure than natural and social infrastructure and there is limited evidence of investment in the informal settlements hosting the most vulnerable urban residents. Ecosystem-based adaptation (i.e. urban agriculture and forestry, river restoration) has increasingly been applied in urban areas. 

Combined ecosystem-based and structural adaptation responses are being developed, and there is growing evidence of their potential to reduce adaptation costs and contribute to flood control, sanitation, water resources management, landslide prevention and coastal protection”.

Furthermore, the “Harnessing Nature for Climate Resilience” report (UNEP, 2022) emphasises that “better baseline information on the existing stock and distribution of green and blue infrastructure and their ability to provide climate change adaptation services [are] needed to better target the design and implementation of urban EbA initiatives”.

To apply under the Thematic track focused on EbA in Urban Environment, applicants must demonstrate how their proposed project addresses one of the three Global EbA Fund strategic objectives and maximum two of three Action Pillars. While the Fund’s strategic objectives define the overarching aim and direction for the projects – the “What” of the Fund,  the action pillars focus on “How” these can be reached within the scope of the Fund. 

These action pillars are:

1) Levers for catalytic change (i.e. policy, education, financing);

2) Functional data & science; and 

3) Innovations for adaptation.

The next cut-off date for both the general and the urban EbA tracks is 28 April 2023. For additional resources on EbA in the urban environment, check out our curated list as well as the Resources page. Please consult our What We Fund page and the Grants Procedures Manual for more information on applicant eligibility. Additional questions can be directed to  contact.ebafund@iucn.org.

Header Image: Vladmir Kudakov © Unsplash; Footer Image: © UNEP

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