IPBC at the climate COP27

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27 closed on 20 November 2022 with a much-awaited agreement on “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters, and a package of decisions including the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

Over the two weeks of discussions among negotiators, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society, nature confirmed to be one of the best ways to tackle climate change. Ocean and Biodiversity Day (16 November) showcased the relationship between biodiversity and climate action, both in how climate change threatens biodiversity, and the role biodiversity can play in mitigation, adaptation and disaster reduction, building a bridge between COP27 and the next COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to kick-off on 7 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada.

Opening segment at the IPBC side event “Partnerships to accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation” (15 November) with the Hon. Jenny McAllister (Australia), Cassilde Brenière (France AFD), Neil Hornby (UK Cefas), Maitha Al Hameli (UAE EAD), Richard Spinrad (US NOAA) and Kirsten Isensee (IOC-UNESCO). © IPBC

At the IPBC official UNFCCC side event “Partnerships to accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation(15 November), co-hosted with The Pew Charitable Trusts, representatives from IPBC country Partners Australia, France, the UK, the UAE and the USA reaffirmed their commitments towards the protection, conservation and restoration of coastal blue carbon ecosystems. They highlighted the role of blue carbon ecosystem in capturing and storing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, making them an important carbon sink. They further emphasized the importance of partnerships across sectors to accelerate action to achieve the global climate, ocean and biodiversity goals.

A lively panel discussion among experts from the UNFCCC Secretariat, the Convention on Wetlands, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) further stressed the importance of collaboration to streamline and scale up global efforts for the protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems. This includes strengthening support to countries to include marine and coastal Nature-based Solutions in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

At the event, the Hon. Jenny McAllister, Australian Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy welcomed the 54th IPBC Partner, the marine and coastal research institute INVEMAR, linked to the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Australia’s Assistant Minister for Climate Change the Hon. Jenny McAllister delivering her speech at the IPBC side event

Panel discussion at the IPBC side event “Partnerships to accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation” (15 November) with (left to right): Daniel Murdiyarso (CIFOR), Jerker Tamelander (Convention on Wetlands), Joanna Post (UNFCCC), Emily Pidgeon (Conservation International), Minna Epps (IUCN) and Angelique Pouponneau (AOSIS). © IPBC

The IPBC was also the co-organizer together with the Blue Carbon Initiative of the Nature Pavilion side event “Global Leadership on Blue Carbon: Keys to Success” (8 November), featuring diverse perspectives working with communities, governments, NGOs, and other partners to advance blue carbon conservation and restoration, and stressing the importance of transparency and trust as core values of every blue carbon action, as well as the need to incorporate co-benefits beyond climate mitigation in blue carbon projects.

A major blue carbon event was the Blue Carbon Implementation Lab (16 November), organised by Conservation International, in collaboration with the UN High-Level Climate Champions, the Ocean and Climate Platform, IUCN, IOC-UNESCO, Blue Marine Foundation, the Blue Carbon Initiative, the IPBC, WWF, Global Mangrove Alliance, ORRAA and Plymouth Marine Laboratory to showcase on-the-ground efforts to implement Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the financial instruments and quality assurances required to scale up the potential of blue carbon.

The Blue Carbon Implementation Lab (16 November). © IISD/ENB

Emily Pidgeon (right) and Jill Hamilton (Conservation International), at the Blue Carbon Implementation Lab (16 November). © IISD/ENB

Lisa Schindler Murray (Rare, left) and Dan Crockett (Blue Marine Foundation) at the Blue Carbon Implementation Lab (16 November). © IISD/ENB

Jerker Tamelander (Convention on Wetlands) at the Blue Carbon Implementation Lab (16 November). © IISD/ENB

On 12 November, the IPBC Coordinator was invited to speak at the Ocean Pavilion side event “Ocean change: Adaptation and mitigation opportunities and challenges”, organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

Overall, around 20 blue carbon-related side events, either as part of the official conference programme or hosted by Blue Zone’s pavilions, were organized by IPBC Partners.

For the first time, the ocean had a dedicated pavilion at COP27 (Ocean Pavilion, organized by more than 20 science- and research-focused institutions), which contributed to the rich ocean programme at the conference, culminating into Ocean Action Day on 16 November.

Several announcements related to blue carbon were also made over the two weeks of COP:

  • The United Arab Emirates and Indonesia announced the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, aimed at scaling up and accelerating the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems for the benefit of communities worldwide. India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan and Spain have already joined the Alliance.
  • Mangroves are also at the core of another initiative launched in Sharm El-Sheikh by the Global Mangrove Alliance in collaboration with the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, the Mangrove Breakthrough, which aims to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030 through protection and restoration activities and an investment of 4 billion USD by 2030.
  • Amazon and Conservation International established the International Blue Carbon Institute, to be based in Singapore and aimed at supporting Southeast Asia protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems.
  • Conservation International, the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, and Salesforce, with the support of the Meridian Institute announced the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance, a framework that provides a consistent approach to ensuring that blue carbon credits optimize outcomes for people, biodiversity, and the climate.
  • The Commonwealth Blue Charter launched the Commonwealth Blue Charter Project Incubator, which will support Commonwealth governments and their partners developing solutions that address shared ocean issues through grants.
  • The Egyptian COP27 Presidency, Germany and IUCN announced the ENACT Initiative for Nature-based Solutions, which will coordinate global efforts to address climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss through NbS.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme launched the Global Peatlands Assessment, which includes recommendations on how decision makers can better manage, conserve, and restore peatlands as a nature-based solution to halt biodiversity loss, support climate change adaptation and mitigation and support local communities.

IPBC publications on display at the Australia Pavilion. © IPBC

Further information on the outcomes of COP27 is accessible through: https://unfccc.int/cop27

Recordings are available for the following events:

Building resilience in blue carbon ecosystems for coastal communities (8 November, 13.00-13.55, Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion)

Fishing for climate resilience: Unlocking the collective potential of vulnerable, coastal communities for climate action (10 November, 09.00-10.00, Resilience Hub)

Setting global Nature-based solutions standards (14 November, 09.00-10.00, Nature Pavilion)

Partnerships to accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation (15 November, 13.15-14.45, Thutmose Room)

Jointly combating the Climate and Biodiversity crises: the critical role of Nature-based Solutions (15 November, 13.15-14.45, Thebes Room)

Ocean-Climate-Society: challenges & opportunities for ocean mitigation, adaptation, finance & UNFCCC (15 November, 16.45-18.00, Memphis Room)

Clearing the Blue Carbon Highway: Governance, Benefit-Sharing and Rights (9 November, 13.30-15.00, Ocean Pavilion)

Ocean change – adaption and mitigation opportunities and challenges (12 November, 10.30-11.30, Ocean Pavilion)