COP27: Biodiversity Day at COP27 hears calls for a ‘Paris Agreement’ style commitment to protecting nature

With a UN summit on nature upcoming, COP27’s biodiversity outcomes show that solutions to the climate crisis can be found in the pursuit of natural recovery goals
November 24, 2022

iodiversity day

The inauguration of COP27's Biodiversity Day was marked by the COP27 Presidency emphasising the connection between climate and biodiversity. A High-Level Opening on "Connecting Climate and Biodiversity" set the agenda for the day and addressed the urgent need for scaled-up integrated responses. Along with Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the ENACT initiative for nature-based solutions was also launched. Three pillars, "Present, Hope, and Vision", set the framework for the relationship between biodiversity and climate change throughout the day. Government ministers, as well as representatives from NGOs like the African Wildlife Foundation and youth climate leaders from indigenous populations, spoke throughout the day.[i] Major events from the day included:

  • 'The Biodiversity and Climate Change Nexus brought' scientists and ministers together to talk about the need to manage ecosystems to protect carbon stocks and carbon sequestration. The panel also discussed the socioeconomic costs associated with biodiversity and natural climate change remedies.
  • ‘Hope for Coral Reefs’ featured conversations on how climate change is affecting coral reefs all across the world, but especially in Egypt's Red Sea, as well as the efforts being made to identify improvements through science and creativity. The importance of protecting the diversity of marine life was also discussed throughout the event.
  • 'Scaling up Urgent Action to Address the Biodiversity and Climate Crises', the corporate sector and governments discussed the urgency and scale of action required to secure biodiversity. The importance of using cutting-edge strategies and financing options was brought up by the panellists, who also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships (PPP) for the preservation and restoration of biodiversity.[ii]

Christiana Figueres, a former UN climate change director and one of the four main architects of the Paris Agreement, has publicly urged world leaders to deliver an "ambitious and transformative" global biodiversity agreement at the upcoming COP15 on biodiversity. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), regional and global climate change is already being profoundly impacted by the loss of biodiversity. Despite the fact that wetlands are being drained, forests are being lost, and other environmental degradation is having a substantial impact on the environment, natural ecosystems can still play a crucial role in regulating climate and can help to capture and store carbon. The organisation claims that initiatives to stop deforestation, forest degradation and restore ecosystems, for example, might help cut yearly greenhouse gas emissions.[iii]

Finding natural solutions to tread the path to net zero

Boosting finance

To address the funding gap for nature-based solutions, ENACT, in partnership with the IUCN, was a significant step. ENACT is intended to stimulate collective action across climate, biodiversity, and desertification, but success will rely on uptake, which is impossible to determine in such early stages. Governmental and non-State actors will be able to use ENACT, according to its proponents, as a hub to encourage cooperation, speed up action, facilitate policy discourse, and deliver initiatives on a global scale. The agreement will guarantee that the nature-based solutions Global Standard is followed.[iv] Allowing non-state actors such as businesses and civil society to engage in nature-based solutions in a funding capacity will help to address the funding challenge. "Only about 133 billion dollars are channelled into nature-based solutions, and investments must triple by 2030 to meet the climate, the nature and land-neutrality targets," said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.[v]

Blue carbon in support of developing nations

Coastal ecosystems can be preserved, protected, and restored through high-quality blue carbon projects. By doing this, they can help local communities livelihoods, preserve their cultural heritage, ensure food security, and provide coastline protection. Healthy coastal ecosystems also enhance water quality, act as spawning grounds for fisheries, and capture and store carbon. The advantages of these ecosystems are frequently articulated in terms of global climate change mitigation through lowered or prevented carbon emissions. However, blue carbon ecosystems also help nearby communities. They aid in the maintenance of fisheries, develop alternate sources of income, and assist locals in obtaining basic necessities. A climate solution that can benefit and protect communities in the developing world could be vital as COP27 remains divided on loss and damages. Blue carbon ecosystems play an increasingly important role in combating the climate catastrophe, and scientists, policymakers, and the general public are committed to putting high-quality blue carbon projects into action. The demand for certified blue carbon credits is now outpacing supply by a wide margin.[vi] The announcement of the creation of High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance at COP27 will support global growth in this area.

Source: Conservation International

Breaths of relief over the lungs of the world

At the UN climate meeting COP27 in Egypt, President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil was returning to the world stage.  Lula committed to reforest the Amazon and find those responsible for climate change as he entered a room filled with supporters who were chanting his name.  He could be seen as one of the summit's big stars after so many people came to hear him speak. Lula made his debut appearance on the global stage just two weeks after narrowly winning the presidency of Brazil. "We must stop this rush to the abyss. There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon," he said, reiterating that the climate crisis would be at the heart of his government’s program. "We will do whatever it takes to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes."[vii]

Support for Lula comes in light of a WWF report on the Amazon rainforest. The report, which warns that 34% of the Amazon biome area has reached at least one of three tipping points regarding rainfall, the length of the dry season, and deforestation or conversion of natural habitat, is a self-described "alarm bell for humanity." The Science Panel for the Amazon noted these tipping points, which would result in the forest changing irreversibly and hindering recovery from more frequent fires and droughts.[viii]

International solidarity will be vital for Lula as he attempts to follow through on his promises. According to Carbon Brief, these promises can reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 89%. This presupposes that Bolsonaro would have continued to oversee less severe environmental governance that permits greater amounts of deforestation activities to continue, while Lula would keep his promise to confront illegal deforestation in the Amazon, consistent with his former leadership. Additionally, it assumes that these circumstances would not change by 2030.[ix]

[i] COP27- COP27 Presidency Connects Climate and Biodiversity

[ii] Ibid

[iii] UN- COP27: Protecting biodiversity is protecting the Paris Agreement

[iv] Race to Zero- COP27: Day 9

[v] UN- Finance for Nature-Based Solutions Must Triple by 2030

[vi] Conservation international- High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance A Triple-Benefit Investment for People, Nature, and Climate

[vii] BBC- COP27: Brazil is back on the world stage, Lula tells climate summit

[viii] Edie- ‘Alarm bell for humanity’: Amazon rainforest nearing point of no return

[ix] Carbon Brief- Analysis: Bolsonaro election loss could cut Brazilian Amazon deforestation by 89%

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Oscar Pusey
Research Analyst

Oscar is a recent graduate with a background in earth science. He is currently studying an MSc focussing on disaster responses, emergency planning and community resilience. His postgraduate research project will assess the link between climate crisis risk perception and attitudes to green energy projects. “Adapting to the climate crisis through the pursuit of net zero requires community engagement and understanding. Zero Carbon Academy’s goals closely align with this approach and I’m excited to have the opportunity to research and communicate a variety of topics relating to our environment and sustainability”.

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