COP-14 Update: Adaptation Key to Negotiations

Townhomes in Poznan, Poland

POZNAN, POLAND — As the second and final week of COP-14 kicks off in Poland today, developing countries have called for ecosystem-based adaptation to be a critical part of a post-2012 climate change agreement.

During government negotiations last week, delegates with the “G77 and China” group, which represents all of the world’s developing countries, said ecosystem-based adaptation was necessary in fighting the devastating impacts of climate change.

“Although adapting to climate change may sometimes require ‘hard’ infrastructure, such measures will be insufficient to address the full scope of climate change impacts,” said the Sri Lankan delegation.

As an example, Sri Lanka — which was severely hit by the deadly tsunami in 2004 — described how healthy coral reefs and mangroves can serve as life-saving buffers to increasing storm surges and rising sea levels while also providing communities with income from fishing and tourism.

Developing nations agreed that incorporating ecosystems into adaptation plans offers a triple-win strategy that supports conservation, development and poverty alleviation.

The Nature Conservancy — along with the IUCN, WWF, Conservation International, BirdLife International, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee, Practical Action, WILD Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna and Flora International and Wetlands International — submitted a joint proposal to the United Nations last week outlining how ecosystem-based adaptation should be included in the next global climate change agreement that is being developed here in Poland and is scheduled to be finalized during the COP-15 negotiations in Copenhagen next year.

Climate change directly threatens the services ecosystems provide including food, clean water, coastal protection, fuel-wood, soil stability, and pollination,” the joint proposal said.

“Ecosystem-based adaptation provides a cost-effective strategy…. and is especially effective at local levels with community involvement. Ecosystem-based adaptation may also contribute to climate change mitigation through the preservation or sequestration of carbon.”

(Photo: Tim Becker)

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