International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Ecosystem approach

The ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way, and which recognises that people with their cultural and varied social needs, are an integral part of ecosystems.

It is the primary framework for action under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and comprises 12 Principles. The 12 principles have been organised by IUCN into five implementation steps, each step involving a range of actions, all of which are fully consistent with GEF IW Projects and the TDA/SAP Approach:

  1. Determining the main stakeholders, defining the ecosystem area, and developing the relationship between them.
  2. Characterizing the structure and function of the ecosystem, and setting in place mechanisms to manage and monitor it.
  3. Identifying the important economic issues that will affect the ecosystem and its inhabitants.
  4. Determining the likely impact of the ecosystem on adjacent ecosystems.
  5. Deciding on long-term goals, and flexible ways of reaching them.

Further information can be found at: