During the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, experts discussed actions to manage climate change risks, including those related to forests and grasslands as well as ocean and marine ecosystems.
Nature-based solutions are vital to strengthen livelihoods, ensure food security and protect lives. While momentum is growing about how biodiversity and oceans play a part in enhancing resilience, knowledge gaps in adapting to the impacts of climate change still exist and pose barriers to countries taking necessary adaptation action.
To inform dicussions and help build capacity, UN Climate Change’s Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) – the Knowledge-To-Action Hub for adaptation and resilience – issued two publications: one focusing on knowledge gaps in integrating forest and grassland biodiversity and ecosystems into adaptation strategies; and another one on building resilience of oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems.
Protecting forest and grassland biodiversity
A new scoping paper on how forest and grassland biodiversity can strengthen countries’ resilience to the effects of climate change was produced with the NWP’s expert group on biodiversity, in close cooperation with the secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). The paper provides case studies, best practices and information for governments to address knowledge gaps that hinder the scaling up of adaptation climate action plans to increase resilience.
In line with recent biodiversity and climate science, the new scoping paper explains how the integration of biodiversity into resilience-building actions can strengthen ecosystems and the services they provide. These services include acting as buffers against extreme weather, protecting soils, regulating temperatures in urban areas, regulating hydrological cycles, reducing food insecurity and providing options for economic diversification, particularly during periods when climate change impacts reduce agricultural yields.
In this way, forest and grassland biodiversity and ecosystems can become important components of overall resilience and adaptation strategies, deliver multiple benefits for sustainable development, and become valuable tools for countries in their overall climate action plans. The paper highlights a growing number of replicable case studies demonstrating just that.
In Nepal, for example, a community is successfully addressing flooding and riverbank erosion through the expansion of tree cover. Next to restoring the forest, the community has begun cultivating beehives and collecting honey to support forest biodiversity and generate income, particularly for women.
The guidance the paper provides to governments is intended as a helpful tool and can be broadly applied. It includes suggestions for innovative and blended financing and for making initiatives fully inclusive.
Cecilia Silva, Co-Chair of the Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC, said: ”With this scoping paper, the expert group of the NWP has equipped countries with new knowledge that can help them take concrete steps to tackle some of their pressing challenges. The NWP expert group has undertaken useful, demand-driven work, developed to respond to the knowledge needs of Parties to integrate forest and grasslands biodiversity and ecosystems into adaptation strategies. We hope that the Parties can take up some of the key findings and translate some of the case studies in their respective contexts to scale up adaptation actions.”
Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the CBD, highlights: “This scoping paper provides a strong foundation of knowledge for understanding the critical role of forests and grassland ecosystems in achieving climate resilience – a necessary step towards implementing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and bending the curve on biodiversity loss.”
Building the resilience of coastal communities
The new publication developed by the NWP in partnership with the expert group on oceans can help countries and coastal communities build resilience and address challenges in adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change. The report highlights solutions and good practices for building resilience of oceans and coastal areas, and gives an overview of knowledge gaps and opportunities for coordinated action to address these gaps.
“The work under the Nairobi work programme provides an opportunity to move towards effective outcomes for the ocean-climate nexus, boosting the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices”, said Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body under the UNFCCC.
Ali Raza Rizvi (Global Coordinator of Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction at IUCN), a member of the NWP expert group on oceans, said: “The launch of this new publication, which is the result of exciting collaboration between organisations and experts around the world, showcases ecosystem-based adaptation as a holistic approach to build community and ecosystem resilience. The NWP expert group on oceans provides opportunities for growth and expansion of adaptation and resilience in ocean and coastal communities and ecosystems that would otherwise be impossible.”