Ecosystems play a pivotal role as a frontline defense against hazards, acting as a shield to prevent disasters and mitigate their impacts on communities, critical infrastructure, and essential services. The conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of diverse natural resources—ranging from land and wetlands to oceans—emerge as crucial elements in fortifying disaster and climate risk management. Particularly, the most vulnerable populations in numerous countries draw upon ecosystems for their livelihoods, underlining the integral role of these natural systems in bolstering community resilience.
Understanding the intricate linkages between human well-being, ecosystems, and evolving risk patterns, it becomes evident that ecosystems contribute significantly to local socio-economic resilience. They sustain livelihoods and offer vital resources to communities during crises, showcasing the indispensable role of nature in disaster risk reduction.
Conversely, degraded environments stand as a prominent driver of disaster risk, exacerbating the impacts of catastrophes and hindering recovery and livelihood restoration in their aftermath.
In light of this, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies must optimally leverage the services provided by ecosystems. Although global frameworks emphasize ecosystem management, translating these commitments into national and local action encounters institutional and governance barriers. Moreover, integrating such measures into sectoral development plans, spanning rural and urban contexts, remains a challenge.
This policy paper aims to raise awareness regarding the pivotal role of ecosystem-based approaches in reducing disaster risk. It underscores the centrality of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) in harmonizing the implementation of various international frameworks aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, it offers insights into capitalizing on the growing evidence base to strengthen the integration of Eco-DRR and other nature-based solutions (NbS), such as ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), into disaster risk reduction strategies and national development plans. The document draws attention to the utility of Eco-DRR in systemic risk management, featuring examples and best practices from the Asia-Pacific region and other global contexts.
The report advocates for an inclusive, “all-of-government,” and “whole-of-society” approach to the development of ecosystem-based approaches to DRR. Such an approach ensures legitimacy, ownership, and buy-in from core national actors in DRR and development, facilitating their seamless adoption and sustainable implementation at the country level. The intended audience includes policymakers, planners, and practitioners in DRR, CCA, sustainable development, and natural resource management at national, regional, and global levels.
This document serves as a crucial knowledge and evidence base for the forthcoming Words-into-Action guideline on Nature-Based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Click here to read the full 64 page report from UNDRR.