The Ecosystem Based Approach (EBA) find its origin in 1994, thanks to the first definition of Grumbine. EBA was described as a management approach for natural resources and ecosystems that integrates the scientific knowledge related with the ecological interactions within a complex framework of social and political aspects and values, with the aim of protecting the integrity of the ecosystems in a long-term perspective. It is important to note how the ecosystem approach corresponds to an integrated resource management strategy, addressed towards the sustainable use of resources, and not directly oriented towards the conservation of nature in itself (Slocombe, 1998). The protection and conservation of the ecosystems is the outcome of an effective ecosystem-based process, rather than the central objective of the management strategy. This is a process that integrates the aspects related with the ecosystem functioning together with the governance aspects of the systems under examination, by considering and adaptative approach.
Thus, the Ecosystem Approach finds broad international recognition, not only in the scientific-field but also within the construction of the territorial policies. One example is the definition given in the framework of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD, 2000). This definition recognizes that the conservation of the biological diversity is imperative to ensure the maintenance of the delivery of the ecosystem services and benefits for human beings. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) and the Maritime Spatial Framework Directive (2014/89/EC) individuate in the EBA the right method to be applied respectively to achieve the good ecological status of the sea and to establish the maritime spatial plans to support the Blue Growth. EBA finds numerous applications both in marine and terrestrial fields, on the base of the flexibility and adaptability of the conditions of the context and of the decisional objectives.
The application of the Ecosystem Based Approach is favoured by the adoption of decision-support models. Such models help to delineate the synergies, conflicts and trade-offs that characterize the decision processes. The methods used by this research team include the Ecosystem Services approach, the analysis of the Cumulative Impacts, as well as specific analytical tools such as Marxan (Watts and Possingham, 2013). The research topics concern the Ecosystem based adaptation, which corresponds to the ecosystem approach towards the adaptation to climate changes. Such approach underpins a broader strategy of adaptation to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to maintain and support resilience and reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems and human populations (CBD, 2009).