This year the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was expected with high anticipation. Many had worked for years towards developing a “climate deal” to be sealed in Paris.
But every international treaty is only as good as its implementation. Real, on-the-ground and verifiable examples are needed to showcase ways forward and reduce actual greenhouse gas emissions. IUCN, together with the Agence Française de Development (AFD), had brought several “solution providers” from Africa to the COP in Paris to highlight and discuss nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation offered by protected areas in Africa, an integral part of the Panorama and Blue Solutions initiatives. Two of these “solution providers” – Lalao Aigrette (Blue Ventures) from Madagascar and James Kairo (KMFRI) from Kenya presented on several occasions their work using voluntary carbon credits to conserve and restore mangrove forests while helping to improve local livelihoods. These two case studies can be found in the newly released report African Solutions in a Rapidly Changing World and are also supported by the UNEP/GEF Blue Forests project.
Voluntary carbon credits are only one possibility for countries and organizations to incentivize and finance better coastal carbon management in mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses. Another event organized by IUCN and many of its partners during the Paris COP at the IUCN Pavilion, called “Moving to implementation: project to national level experiences on coastal (blue) carbon wetland efforts from around the globe”, highlighted further how the concept of Blue Carbon can be used in a variety of ways to limit the loss of coastal carbon ecosystems and boost their recovery via climate policies and finance, including ongoing policy analysis done by IUCN in five countries as a contribution to the UNEP/GEF Blue Forests project.
The event showed and discussed the pros and cons of various policy mechanisms and funding forms, including the use of REDD+ (for mangroves especially), the use of carbon offset projects, the use of the new IPCC wetlands guidelines and the implementation of a coastal carbon NAMA –Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action. The event highlighted the need that such climate mitigation activities cannot happen in isolation to climate adaptation activities, neither to marine resource management nor national development needs in order to be truly successful.
By Dorothée Herr, IUCN