Ecosystem services are the benefits to humans that arise from the interactions between components of an ecosystem, including provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services. Climate change will further impact natural systems, affecting the flow of ecosystem services. Climate change is the driver of ecosystem degradation, the impact of which was increasing most rapidly, although there is uncertainty about scope and the specific economic implications of this change. Holistic investments in ecosystem services is complex since it involves many systems over different scales, and interacts with national considerations such as land use rights, environmental governance and policy responses. Often, hybrid measures combining ecosystem-based and traditional approaches can be most effective and efficient.
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) offers flexible and cost-effective measures to address risks at multiple scales. Ecosystem services have been shown to reduce exposure to natural hazards and build adaptive capacity. There is a strong economic case for investing in EbA and ecosystem-based approaches. Further, there are obvious linkages with other results areas of the Fund. Existing ecosystem-based adaptation is being funded in a small number of cases through existing climate funds. While there are projects that focus on the role of forests in ecosystem services, less attention has been paid to the impact of climate change on coral reefs, the longer term viability of which is likely to be threatened. Such projects may be of particular relevance in SIDS, where threats of climate change to coastal ecosystems are large. Coral reefs and coastal ecosystems protect communities from storms and erosion, reducing damage costs and potentially saving lives. The costs of seawalls or other hard infrastructure may well be more than the cost of protection of the existing reefs that serve similar functions.
The following GCF projects help improve resilience of ecosystem services by addressing risks brought about by degrading ecosystems affected by climate change.