First Policy Action Plan for World's Blue Carbon

12/6/2011

"Blue Carbon Policy Framework" is Released at U.N. Climate Talks in Durban; Highlights Results of First Meeting of International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group

Durban, South Africa/Arlington, VA — The first policy framework outlining activities needed to include coastal marine areas such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses into the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has been presented in a report by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Conservation International (CI), two of the leading members of the Blue Carbon Initative.

The report, "Blue Carbon Policy Framework" (PDF), outlines the opportunities for including the conservation of coastal areas in the climate change policies and financing processes currently being negotiated in Durban. The study also highlights the need for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the voluntary carbon market to take coastal marine ecosystems into account.

"The oceans and marine biodiversity are crucial in regulating the global climate", says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme. "Oceans absorb 93.4 percent of the heat produced by climate change as well as one third of human-induced carbon dioxide. Coastal areas also have an exceptional capacity to store carbon. But currently natural solutions that the marine world offers to climate change challenges are rarely taken into account in international climate change policy."

The UNFCCC and the mechanism known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus conservation), support the conservation and restoration of terrestrial forests as a way to reduce the effects of climate change. But the importance of coastal carbon sinks, such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses, is not yet fully recognized by the Convention.

Although coastal ecosystems cover only one to two percent of the area covered by forests globally, improving their management can supplement efforts to reduce emissions from tropical forest degradation. A square kilometer of a coastal ecosystem can store up to five times more carbon than a square kilometer of mature tropical forests. But currently these areas are being destroyed three to four times faster than forests, releasing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the ocean, and contributing to climate change.

"We think this recognition is critical," explains report co-author Dr. Emily Pidgeon, Conservation International's Senior Director of Marine Strategic Initiatives and a leading Blue Carbon conservation scientist. "The management of carbon in coastal systems can already be included in a number of UNFCCC and REDD+ components. This plan was produced to help detail what we see as key next steps in terms of a full integration of blue carbon into existing initiatives."

"We now have scientific evidence that conserving mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses and other blue carbon habitats is a very precious tool in our fight against climate change," says Pierre-Yves Cousteau, IUCN's Goodwill Ambassador and founder of Cousteau Divers, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the marine world. "These muddy coastal areas also help us adapt to the changing climate. They protect local communities from storms and regulate the quality of coastal water. Increased recognition of their importance among the climate change community will hopefully improve the way they're managed and conserved."

"We need to convince the broader policy community that blue carbon has a strong scientific basis and that it should be taken into account as a valuable tool in our suite of global efforts to confront and adapt to the impacts of climate change. We also need decision makers to understand that this tool requires adequate funding to maximize the many benefits it provides to people," adds Pidgeon.

The report can be viewed here: http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2011-058.pdf


For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Brian Thomson
IUCN Media Relations
+27 (0)74 186 8665 / +41 (0)79 721 8326
brian.thomson@iucn.org

Daniel Shaw
IUCN Communications Officer
+27 74 1847969 / +41 79 345 1404
daniel.shaw@iucn.org

Ewa Magiera
IUCN Media Relations
+41 79 856 76 26
ewa.magiera@iucn.org

Kim McCabe
CI Media Director
+27 72 993 72 63
kmccabe@conservation.org

Kevin Connor
CI Media Manager
+1 703 341 2405 / +1 571 232 0455
kconnor@conservation.org

Notes to editors:

View the report: "Blue Carbon Policy Framework" (PDF)

The five Policy objectives outlined by the Blue Carbon Policy Framework are:

  • Integrate Blue Carbon activities fully into the international policy and financing processes of the UNFCCC as part of mechanisms for climate change mitigation
  • Integrate Blue Carbon activities fully into other carbon finance mechanisms such as the voluntary carbon market as a mechanism for climate change mitigation
  • Develop a network of Blue Carbon demonstration projects
  • Integrate Blue Carbon into other international, regional and national frameworks and policies, including coastal and marine frameworks and policies
  • Facilitate the inclusion of the carbon value of coastal ecosystems in the accounting of ecosystem services

The Blue Carbon Initiative is the first integrated programme focused on mitigating climate change by conserving and restoring coastal marine ecosystems globally. The initiative is lead by Conservation International (CI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, working with partners from national governments, research institutions, NGOs, coastal communities, intergovernmental and international bodies and other relevant stakeholders.


About IUCN
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature
, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.. www.iucn.org  |  IUCN on Facebook  |  IUCN on Twitter

About Conservation International
Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI has headquarters in the Washington, DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 25 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. Follow us on Twitter at @ConservationOrg or Facebook