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30 / Nov / 2022Events
Nature-based solutions were on the table during COP27 debates and negotiations
The key role that healthy ecosystems play is undeniable when it comes to fighting the climate crisis
On 20 November, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), that took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, came to an end after fifteen days dedicated to the discussion and search for agreements of the actions needed towards achieving the collective climate goals as agreed under the Paris Agreement and the Convention. The conference also offered a unique opportunity for the international climate community to reinforce the deep links between the climate and biodiversity crises, and the critical role that Nature-based Solutions can play to tackle both.
It is relevant to say that while natural ecosystems play a crucial part in regulating climate and can help to sequester and store carbon, the loss of forests, the draining of wetlands and other environmental degradation has contributed significantly to climate change. Thus, efforts to reduce their degradation and accelerate their restoration have to be part of the plan if we want to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ℃ above pre-industrial levels. Only by taking urgent action to halt and reverse the loss of nature this decade, while continuing to add efforts to lower the impacts from our economic and daily activities, can we hopefully achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement.
In order to offer a high-integrity framework for addressing these issues, a Biodiversity Day was organized on November 16th. A space dedicated to discussing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity as well as how to mobilize global actions towards halting its loss and reducing the impacts of climate change and pollution. This event also provided the occasion to present and discuss the opportunities linked to ecosystem-based solutions and setting mechanisms to effectively harness nature’s role in addressing climate adaptation and mitigation. The arguments and announcements that took place during this high-level event turned out to be specially important as climate and nature leaders look ahead to the major decisions of the COP15 UN biodiversity conference next month.
In that context and recognising the need for a more integrated global approach to Nature-based Solutions NbS), the Egyptian COP27 Presidency, the Government of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) launched the ENACT (Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation) initiative to bring coherence to and strengthen collaboration between existing NbS efforts and partnerships. The aim is to significantly increase global mitigation efforts through protecting, conserving and restoring carbon-rich terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
"Nature is our most powerful ally in combating the climate and biodiversity crises. Intact ecosystems store carbon dioxide, secure our food and water supplies and protect us against disasters. Furthermore, Nature-based Solutions can create jobs and contribute to economic and social development.," said Steffi Lemke, German Federal Environment Minister.
Another key point to stand out was the relevance that some coastal and marine ecosystems had during the event. It is well known that the ocean plays a critical role in the global carbon cycle, and healthy ocean ecosystems are vital for climate adaptation and mitigation; as well as crucial to humankind for the services they provide (food, shelter and livelihoods). Therefore, with COP27 taking place at Sharm El Sheikh, coral reefs of the Red Sea took a protagonical role with the presentation of the Red Sea Initiative by the Egyptian government in partnership with USAID, UNDP, and the Global Fund for Coral Reefs. Equally represented were mangroves, with the launching of the Mangrove Breakthrough program, co-led by IUCN in collaboration with the UN High Level Climate Champions, which sets out to secure 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030.
All these commitments must be materialized soon enough and with the forcefulness needed to beat the race against global warming and avoid the tipping points identified by science. Keeping in mind that nature should not only be seen as an important ally, given its capacity to mitigate and reverse climate change, but also as the guarantor of life on the planet and the provider of all the ecosystem services humankind relies on for its survival.
Written by: Susana Barreto
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