Following the successful entry into force of the Paris Agreement in November 2016, UNFCCC COP23 marks an important mid-point juncture in making this historic agreement fully operational, a process that is due to be completed by December 2018.
As Parties convene in Bonn to take stock and review progress on the development of the various modalities, procedures and guidelines necessary for the operationalisation of the Paris Agreement, IUCN would like to take the opportunity to highlight the following:
- Mitigation/ Nationally Determined Contributions
- Additional guidance provided to Parties in relation to the future preparation and communication of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) should encourage greater recognition and inclusion of nature-based solutions to climate change, in addition to ambitious mitigation action in other sectors.[i]
- This is bearing in mind the major climate change mitigation benefits that conserving, restoring and sustainably managing terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems provide as practical and cost-effective sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, as also clearly recognised in the Paris Agreement.
- A recent analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has estimated that natural climate solutions can provide over one-third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2 °C.[ii]
- UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2017 estimates that land-based carbon removal options, including forests, wetlands and soils, offer a total annual emissions reduction potential of 4 to 12 GtCO2e.[iii] These also help to meet other global sustainability goals, such as improved water quality, biodiversity conservation, and improved food security.
- Adaptation Communications
- Additional guidance provided to Parties in relation to their Adaptation Communications – whether transmitted through their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), National Communications (NCs), or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – should likewise encourage greater recognition and inclusion of the critical role that healthy ecosystems – forests, mangroves, oceans – play through ecosystem-based adaptation in helping vulnerable countries and communities better adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
- A recent study estimates that wetlands avoided US$ 625 million in direct flood damages during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.[iv] More generally, coastal wetlands in the US have been estimated to provide storm protection services worth US$ 23 billion annually.[v]
- Such guidance should also encourage Parties to systematically assess the risks posed by climate change to vulnerable communities and ecosystems, and to prioritise these in their national adaptation planning and actions, so as to build the resilience of both people and ecosystems.
- 2018 Facilitative Dialogue (Talanoa Dialogue)/ Global Stocktake
- The Facilitative Dialogue scheduled to be held in 2018 will be an important moment to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in progressing towards the long-term goal set out in the Paris Agreement, and to inform the preparation of the next round of NDCs.
- The Facilitative Dialogue should offer a specific space to consider the current and potential contribution that nature-based solutions can make towards addressing climate change, and to systematically assess and report on the extent to which countries have already incorporated ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation measures within their current NDCs.
- The Facilitative Dialogue should furthermore encourage Parties to incorporate more ambitious ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation measures in the new or updated NDCs that they have to communicate in 2020.
- The above options should also be taken into account by Parties while developing the modalities for the first Global Stocktake that is due to take place in 2023, and every five years thereafter.
- Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples (LCIP) Platform
- The local communities and indigenous peoples (LCIP) platform established at UNFCCC COP21 is well positioned to facilitate a more systematic and enhanced engagement of LCIPs in relevant UNFCCC processes by providing a formal space for disseminating and sharing their knowledge, experiences, practices and perspectives on climate change.
- IUCN supports the early and effective operationalisation of this platform, bearing in mind both the risks that local communities and indigenous peoples face from climate change, and the important contributions that they make towards combating it.[vi]
- Gender and Climate Change
- UNFCCC COP22 requested the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to develop a gender action plan in order to support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandates under the UNFCCC process.[vii]
- Recalling the acknowledgement within the Paris Agreement that Parties should respect and promote gender equality and empowerment of women when taking action to address climate change, IUCN looks forward to continue collaborating with Parties and other stakeholders in supporting the development and adoption of an impactful gender action plan.
[i] Nature-based solutions are defined by IUCN as ‘actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits’, Resolution 69, 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaii, USA.
[iii] UNEP. 2017. The Emissions Gap Report 2017. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi.
[iv] Narayan et al. 2017. ‘The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Flood Damage Reduction in the Northeastern USA’, Scientific Reports, 7(9463); available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09269-z
[v] Costanza et al. 2008. ‘The value of coastal wetlands for hurricane protection’, Ambio, 37(4):241-8.
[vi] For IUCN’s submission on the LCIP platform, see: http://unfccc.int/files/parties_observers/submissions_from_observers/application/pdf/877.pdf
[vii] Decision 21/CP.22