Measures for a sustainable future

Fish swim around a coral

Every year on 22 May, the International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the importance of the diversity of life on our planet. Protecting biodiversity is a cornerstone in the fight against climate change and for our sustainable development.

As part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the funding of biodiversity conservation projects has become a key focus. These projects not only support the preservation of species diversity but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make ecosystems and their inhabitants more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

In line with this year’s theme, "Be Part of the Plan," the following aims to highlight not only the beauty and diversity of nature but also the crucial actions that can and are being taken within biodiversity conservation to address the challenges of climate change. Central to this is the “mainstreaming” of biodiversity across sectors, taking into account and harnessing the synergies between biodiversity and climate change.

Mainstreaming biodiversity: The importance of cross-sectoral biodiversity conservation

4 people with typical Vietnamese headdresses sit in the sand and plant seedlings.
Residents of local communities in Viet Nam's Thua Thien Hue province are restoring their land with the help of seedlings.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) describes biodiversity mainstreaming as the integration and consideration of biological diversity and the ecosystem services it provides in policies across various economic sectors, and their practical implementation. This applies sectors that are highly dependent on biodiversity as well as those that shave a significant impact on it. Mainstreaming biodiversity is crucial in the fight against climate change, as biological diversity plays a key role in regulating the impacts of climate change and facilitating adaptation.

Healthy and biodiverse ecosystems such as peatlands, forests, and wetlands are also important carbon sinks, where CO2 is bound and stored long-term. In the marine realm, important carbon sinks include seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, which store large amounts of CO2 both in their biomass and in the surrounding sediment.

In addition, the functioning of certain ecosystems can also be actively integrated into climate change mitigation and adaptation measures to sustainably protect nature while enabling long-term adaptation and increasing resilience. These so-called nature-based solutions (NbS) benefit both nature and people. One example of this approach is ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). For example, intact wetlands along rivers and coasts can protect against flooding while simultaneously preserving vital habitats for flora and fauna. Expanding green and blue infrastructure in cities (such as green spaces, parks, urban forests, and water bodies) can counteract the impacts of climate change in urban areas, such as increased heat waves, drought periods, and flooding, while enhancing urban biodiversity.

Mainstreaming biodiversity in the International Climate Initiative (IKI)

The International Climate Initiative (IKI) supports the "Conservation of Biological Diversity" in its respective funding area through projects that primarily aim to protect biological diversity in IKI partner countries. In addition, the IKI is increasingly supporting projects in its other funding areas that aim to conserve biodiversity and have restoration as goals alongside climate change mitigation (thematic page on Biodiversity and Climate Protection in the IKI). These projects address the challenges of integrating the positive impacts of biodiversity into climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, thereby initiating and supporting sustainable and biodiversity-friendly development.

Example: Biodiversity mainstreaming in Thailand’s climate policy development

Thailand, the second largest CO2 emitter in Southeast Asia, ranks 13th in terms of vulnerability to climate change due to its 2,420 kilometres of densely populated coastline. The IKI project "Climate Policy and Biodiversity in Thailand" promotes synergies between climate protection and marine and coastal biodiversity to support the implementation of climate and biodiversity goals in Thailand.

A man measures the size of a mangrove tree with a tape measure.
A project employee measures mangroves on Thailand's coast.

To establish a sustainable link between climate change mitigation and biodiversity, the project develops policies and instruments for climate, marine, and coastal protection, with a focus on sustainable tourism planning. It also promotes monitoring and evaluation, inter-ministerial and technical exchange activities, and the creation of expert networks. The project will also implement pilot projects to integrate climate, marine, and coastal biodiversity objectives and build capacity at national and sub-national levels. Workshops and dialogues will raise awareness and disseminate knowledge. Through these wide-ranging activities, the project aims to sustainably integrate climate and biodiversity conservation into various sectors in Thailand, particularly in marine, coastal, and sustainable tourism planning. The project also focuses on effective stakeholder management, private sector participation, and citizen science mobilisation to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Example: Biodiversity mainstreaming in land use

The agriculture sector is a major global emitter of greenhouse gases while in turn being particularly affected by climate change. Agricultural production, for example, suffers from extreme weather events, droughts, and floods. The IKI project "Land-use planning and financial innovation to increase Mexico’s resilience to climate change" implements sustainable land-use measures in nine Mexican states taking into account climate change, socio-economic development, and biodiversity conservation.

A field with different crops
In Mexico, smallholders are learning to adapt their farming methods to the consequences of climate change.

A key objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers, their organisations, and regional institutions to adapt agricultural production systems to changing climatic conditions. The main challenges for smallholders are rising temperatures and more frequent droughts. Over the coming years, the project will support selected production systems through EbA approaches and the conservation of biodiversity within these systems. Planned adaptation measures include the restoration of riverbanks, reforestation with native species, the introduction of agroforestry systems to improve the microclimate, and the promotion of better soil structure through the use of green and organic fertilisers.

Example: Biodiversity mainstreaming in cities

Climate action with biodiversity mainstreaming in urban areas offers diverse solutions to strengthen the resilience of cities and improve the well-being of their inhabitants. Cities face unique challenges related to climate change, such as increased heat waves and flooding. The IKI project "Supporting the National Agenda for Sustainable Urban Development in Brazil (ANDUS)" works to make urban development in Brazil more sustainable in the face of growing urbanisation and associated environmental problems.

Park in the Brazilian city of Campinas.

The project supports federal, state, and local actors in implementing strategies for integrated planning and management of sustainable urban development. In the long term, urban and rural ecosystems should be used and protected to adapt cities to the impact of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to water conservation. In addition to mitigation and adaptation strategies, urban-rural linkages and the importance of intact ecosystems as "green service providers" for cities will be addressed.

Opportunities for the future

Biodiversity mainstreaming offers significant opportunities at the intersection of climate change mitigation and the conservation of biodiversity. Targeted measures can help conserve and protect the planet's species diversity while supporting various sectors in adapting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The IKI has already successfully implemented biodiversity mainstreaming in several projects across different funding areas, as demonstrated by examples in climate policy development, sustainable land use, and urban development. However, the potential of biodiversity mainstreaming has not yet been fully realised, and the IKI is working to expand this within its portfolio. Given the continuing loss of biological diversity and the increasingly noticeable impacts of climate change, biodiversity mainstreaming offers significant opportunities to achieve both climate and biodiversity protection goals in the future.

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