The great potential of nature as a cost-effective and no-regret solution to the climate challenge should be one of the central issues at the annual UN climate change summit which starts today in Doha, Qatar.
The climate conference will aim to build on the restored mutual trust in the multilateral process from the last two years. Honouring existing commitments and turning agreed decisions into action will be at the heart of this year’s major climate event.
“We have to realise that implementing the solutions that nature provides doesn’t come at the cost of jobs or economic growth,” says Stewart Maginnis, Director of IUCN’s Environment and Development Group. “With many countries and communities already using solutions offered by nature to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change and to reduce their dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, more needs to be done to promote these solutions globally.”
Halting the loss and degradation of ecosystems and promoting their restoration can deliver over one third of the total mitigation of climate change required by 2030, according to IUCN. The “Bonn Challenge” to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020 is one concrete way in which countries and landowners can contribute to this in the form of a large-scale nature-based solution.
Appropriate management of nature reduces the vulnerability of people to the threats posed by climate change. Protecting forests, coral reefs, mangroves and river systems helps people adapt to climate change and reduces its impacts.
“Decisions made in Doha must promote the development and implementation of an environmentally sound and equitable mechanism for forest-climate action at the national level known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation),” says Maginnis. “For REDD+ to be effective, we need to make sure that nature’s benefits are distributed in a fair way and that all concerned, including women and indigenous peoples, can participate.”
Marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangrove swamps are among the most vulnerable to climate change, with millions of people relying on them for food, protection, tourism and development. Intact coastal ecosystems offer a double benefit in the face of climate change - they protect communities from inevitable sea level rise and storm surges while also capturing and storing large amounts of carbon.
IUCN also urges decision-makers to recognise ocean acidification as a global challenge and to take the much-needed targeted steps to address it. Manmade ocean acidification will have profound impacts on marine life, even without a further increase of CO2 emissions.
“We need to come out of Doha with a sound political agreement that takes into account the variety of cost-effective solutions that nature has to offer and that brings about a real change and action, “ adds Maginnis.
For more information: Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 857 4072, e [email protected]