UN Climate Change
To be added.
As the unavoidable impacts of climate change hit home – including more heatwaves, droughts, floods and cyclones – societies are looking at ways to build resilience. A recently released UN report illustrates that intact ecosystems can often be the most effective and cheapest barriers to such impacts.
Adaptation to climate change is usually associated with built infrastructure, such as elevated roads and concrete sea walls. But “Ecosystem–based” adaptation strategies are important to consider as societies implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement, along with the national climate action plans under the agreement.
Ecosystems that provide protection from climate impacts range from the humid Amazon rainforest in South America to the mangroves along the Moroccan coast in West Africa. Tropical rainforests both absorb carbon dioxide and can stabilize water supplies and safeguard inhabited areas from flooding. And mangroves provide the best natural defences against storm surges.
Whilst protecting against weather extremes, such valuable ecosystems are also under increasing pressure from climate change. For example, damaged forests cannot effectively store water. And a coral reef structure weakened by warming and acidification will be less effective in protecting against storm surges.
Types of ecosystems. Image credit: Biomes: Figure 2 by OpenStax College, Biology.
The UNFCCC report “Adaptation planning, implementation, and evaluation addressing ecosystems and areas such as water resources”, offers three major insights:
Effects and feedback loops in coupled human–environment systems. Source: Adapted from Locatelli B, Kanninen M, Brockhaus M, Colfer CJP, Murdiyarso D and Santoso H. 2008. Facing an uncertain future: how forests and people can adapt to climate change. Bogor: Center for International Forestry Research. Available here
The report helps answer some critical questions regarding implementing ecosystem-based adaptation, along with highlighting several inspiring examples of ways to enhance the resilience of ecosystems:
The report was prepared under the Nairobi work programme, the UN Knowledge-for-Action Network for Climate Resilience, in collaboration with members of Friends of EbA (FEBA). It was presented to governments during the last Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, on 8-18 May 2017.
The report can be seen here.
The report is also part of a five-step process implemented by the UNFCCC’s Nairobi work programme to build resilience of ecosystems and scale up ecosystem-based adaptation action in countries below:
Five-step process on ecosystems and areas such as water resources under the Nairobi work programme
The Nairobi work programme: UN Knowledge-for-Action Climate Resilience Network:
The Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP) contributes to advancing adaptation action through knowledge in order to scale up adaptation at all governance levels, with a focus on developing countries. It synthesizes and disseminates information and knowledge on adaptation, facilitates science–policy–practice collaboration in closing adaptation knowledge gaps and fosters learning to boost adaptation actions, including through the adaptation knowledge portal. Activities under the NWP involve close collaboration with a network of over 340 partner organizations working on adaptation all over the world. The NWP provides support on adaptation knowledge and stakeholder engagement to Parties, as well as to the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group.
The image at the top of the article shows people of the mangrove forest in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo credit: Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR