Entry Points for Mainstreaming Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: The Case of South Africa

There is remarkable variation in the degree to which ecosystem-based adaptation has been adopted around the globe. Whereas the fundamental concept of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is viewed as scientifically sound and one of the principal ways in which countries can respond to climate change, the level to which countries have adopted EbA differs substantially. In certain countries, such as South Africa, there is good support for the concept, initial national strategies have been developed and early on-the-ground activities are already being rolled out. However, in other countries there has been little uptake of the idea with few developments so far. In this context, GIZ has commissioned a set of country studies to firstly understand:

  • Why certain countries have taken up the concept with interest and enthusiasm and others have not;
  • In countries where EbA has gained traction: what has been the process to date; what were the entry points and who were the pivotal parties; whether they are representatives of the public or private sector and how EbA is currently governed; and
  • How EbA has been integrated into national policy, strategy and implementation.


The second goal is to understand how EbA can be further expanded and mainstreamed in each country. Here, we present a set of five case studies to illustrate how implementation may occur and to draw early pertinent lessons. Thereafter, we describe four main entry points for future expansion of EbA, with detailed consideration of key barriers and opportunities.

The study was carried out by conducting a comprehensive review of existing policies, followed by a broad suite of interviews with entities located within national, provincial and local government together with leading private sector organisations that have led much of the early implementation in the field.