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Moving from Principles to Practice. EBA Decision Support Framework:. Ole Vestergaard UNEP Division for Environmental Policy Implementation, Nairobi. Adaptation Knowledge Day III, 18 May 2012, Bonn. AIMS. DEVELOPMENT OF PRACTICAL GUIDANCE ON EBA

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eba decision support framework

Moving from Principles to Practice

EBA Decision Support Framework:

Ole Vestergaard

UNEP Division for Environmental Policy Implementation, Nairobi

Adaptation Knowledge Day III, 18 May 2012, Bonn



This effort aims to assist countries develop long-term effective EBA interventions by addressing the strategic questions:

  • How to select the most appropriate EBA options relevant to a specific context?
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness and long-term adaptation outputs of specific EBA measures?
specific objectives
  • Develop guidance to planners and decision-makers to select, design and implementecosystem-based adaptation options relevant to the UNEP EBA Flagship ecosystems (coasts, drylands, riverbasins, mountains).
  • Review theoretical and practical approaches currently being applied across a range of EBA and EBM programmes and projects, and provide recommendations on appropriate evaluation approaches within particular management contexts.
  • Develop an operational Decision Support Framework to assist planners and decision-makers compare and select adaptation or EBA options.

Development steps

  • EBA Profiling and background analysis, 2011
  • Expert workshop & synthesis, Feb 2012, Nairobi
  • Final draft ‘Prototype’ completed April 2012
  • External review, April-May 2012
  • Field testing & further development – using existing/new project as platforms [Starting up]
  • Development of training package and courses [Starting up]
eba situation analysis where1
  • Distribution of EBA activities across different regions
  • Distribution of EBA activities in different ecosystem types
some principles and resources on eba that informed the eba dsf
Some principles and resources on EBA that informed the EBA-DSF
  • Andrade, A. et al (2011) Draft principles and guidelines for integrating ecosystem-based. approaches to adaptation in project and policy design: a discussion document.
  • Books, N. 2011. Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development. IIED.
  • Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2011): Effectiveness of ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation: A critical review of current evidence, Background document.
  • Lamhauge, N., E. Lanzi and S. Agrawala 2011. “Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation: Lessons from Development Co-operation Agencies”, OECD.
  • Spearman, M. and McGray, H. 2011. Making Adaptation Count:
  • TNC 2011. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: Bridging Science and Real-World Decision-making.
  • Hills, T., and Pramova, E. 2011. Informing decisions on ecosystem-based approaches for the adaptation of people in the Asia and Pacific region
  • UNEP EBM Guide (2011)
barriers to achieving principles of effective evaluation
Barriers to Achieving Principles of Effective Evaluation
  • Uncertainty and long timeframes;
  • Unclear objectives and no single definition of success;
  • Diverse vulnerability factors and attribution; and
  • Complex, cross-sector problems and activities.
  • Climate adaptation interventions are implemented over short periods and attributing change in resilience and adaptive capacity at the community level to longer term climate impacts is challenging.
  • Further, many projects set broad objectives or use unclear terms, such as ‘resilience’, which may have different meanings in different contexts.
barriers to achieving principles of effective evaluation contd
Barriers to Achieving Principles of Effective Evaluation - contd….
  • Lack of guidance in indicator selection and/or the provision of example indicators that do not meet evaluative criteria and do not align to local context.
  • Limited review of project and program indicator selection and monitoring regimes prior to project financing.
  • Disconnect between the creation of the monitoring and evaluation framework and implementation (theory of change is ‘lost’ along the way).
  • Limited financing to establish baselines and implement regular monitoring activities.
rationale for dsf
Rationale for DSF

A EBA Decision Support Framework should be:

  • Framed to enable consideration of EBA against a suite of other alternatives, and comes with an acknowledgement that EBA is not the best adaptation solution in all contexts.

i.e. enabling decision-making processes to compare conventional

adaptation options (i.e. typically delivering a smaller range of

services that are easier to quantify) with EBA options (i.e. deliver a

greater range of options that are more difficult to quantify).

  • Built around an embedded M&E framework that is both adaptive and reflexive to inform the process of selection, design and implementation of EBA initiatives.
  • Pro-active: framing M&E guidance that acts to shape the key questions to be addressed in the project design phase and through the life-cycle of the EBA initiative.
rationale for dsf1
Rationale for DSF
  • Provide information to help users understand the range of options available to treat climate related risks (both ecosystem and non) and select the most appropriate option for their specific context;
  • Ensure that the user has the ability to monitor the effectiveness of their selected intervention in achieving its intended outcomes


Mid-level decision-makers and planners setting up adaptation

Brings together complex information in accessible format to facilitate decision-making a different levels – assessing EBA among other adaptation options.

decision support framework dfs conceptual model
Decision Support Framework (DFS) Conceptual Model

Interrelationship between principles in the design and implementation of effective EBA


B: Selecting Appropriate Options for Adaptation

A: Setting the Adaptive Context

D: Adaptive implementation

C: Design for Change

Draft EBA Decision Support Framework


B: Selecting Appropriate Options for Adaptation

EBA approaches available?

What approaches are suitable for your context?

A: Setting the Adaptive Context

What does your system look like?

How is it used?

Management concerns?

Adaptation goals?

D: Adaptive implementation



Reflect and adapt

Sound decision-making

C: Design for Change

How will the measure be implemented?

How will you know if the measures are effective?

Draft EBA Decision Support Framework


Focus Question A4: Do you have clearly defined adaptation goals?

Adaptation goals refer to the intended outcomes of the adaptation intervention, both during the lifetime of the initiative and in the future (i.e. longer term adaptation goal). Importantly, these adaptation goals should be cognisant of ecosystem service delivery for your area of interest.

some conclusions and key messages
  • EBA activities are taking place in a wide range of contexts pertaining to different ecosystems, climate change risks, scales etc. Subsequently, no comprehensive or inclusive definition of EBA exists as a ‘one-size-fits-all’.

Rather, a clear ‘context-specificness’ or ‘it depends factor’ is most explicitly recognised by the organizational objectives of the implementing agency.

  • Available information suggests that as a minimum, an adaptation initiative must be measurable and reflective; prioritized; cost effective; couched within existing policies and catalyzed by strong leadership, particularly at a local level, if it is to be an effective endeavor.
  • The distinction between the long term M&E and project M&E in the DSF will be a useful step towards establishing the sound ‘evidence for persuasion’ that is lacking.
some conclusions and key messages1
  • Lack of robust information on EBA options and measures in comparison to more ‘traditional’ adaptation technologies. Need easy information to inform the decision making process.
  • Existing information on EBA has been largely directed at the formulation of principles and objectives. While capacity building expertise with respect to EBA may exist within the adaptation community and beyond, it has yet to be extended to the provision of support for on-the-ground decision-making at a project level.

NB. Developing an EBA decision-framework is a complex task..!

- we look for wide input and collaborations in further evolution and application of EBA-DSF.

where to from here
  • Pilot testing in variety of ecosystem and decision contexts
  • Development of training package and national / regional training role-out (e.g. support to NAPA and NAP implementation)
  • Synthesis of practical learning

Further development of EBA-DSF

  • Practical M&E module
  • Practical cost-benefit analysis
  • Ecosystem specific DSF’s (coastal DSF, mountain DSF, etc)

Thank you!


Ole Vestergaard

UNEP Division of Environmental Policy Implementation

Email: ole.vestergaard@unep.org