Two crises pose serious threats to life on Earth: the climate change crisis and the biodiversity crisis. Major global intergovernmental assessments from the IPCC and the IPBES have demonstrated that the two crises are strongly interlinked. It is increasingly understood that we must move beyond treating these crises separately, but rather move towards integrated approaches.
How refreshing that the IPBES addressed UNFCCC delegates yesterday, and with the SBSTA Chair paying full attention. ECO hopes that Parties are equally engaged. After all, nature-based solutions could provide 37% of mitigation efforts to meeting the 1.5°C target by 2030 according to IPBES. The challenge is to ensure that climate action lives up to the promise in the preamble of the Paris Agreement of supporting human rights, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring ecosystem integrity.
Much needs to be done, however, for this insight on the dual crises to be recognised and acted upon internationally. Carbon-rich high integrity ecosystems, such as primary forests, grasslands, peatlands and other wetlands, are under significant pressure. Land use change and degradation contribute in mutually reinforcing ways to both the climate and biodiversity crises – increasing emissions, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation
We need to see integration of actions under key international conventions (UNCBD, UNCCD, WHC, and UNFCCC), and other key international instruments (e.g. Sustainable Development Goals). Such action must recognise the scale of and linkages between these crises and the need to deal with them in a coherent, integrated, holistic manner.
It’s time to prioritise the role of ecosystems: protecting and restoring carbon rich primary natural ecosystems; restoring previously degraded ecosystems; reconnecting natural ecosystems, restoring biodiversity in agricultural soils; and maximising ecosystem resilience and adaptive capacity through landscape scale initiatives.