22.12.2020

Combining climate action with biodiversity conservation

Photo: Tobias Buchberger

The International Advisory Group (IBK) of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) met on 25 November. At this virtual congress, entitled "Integrating climate and biodiversity protection for ambitious action", around 40 distinguished international climate and biodiversity experts discussed recommendations aimed at helping IKI to improve efforts to promote, initiate and scale integrative approaches to the protection of the climate and biodiversity. Such integrative approaches, which address climate and biodiversity protection simultaneously, are becoming increasingly important at the international level – also in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the role of integrative approaches in preventing future pandemics. 

The roundtable discussion was opened by keynote speeches from Andrea Meza, Minister for the Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, and Professor Markus Fischer, University of Bern, and Member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Both speakers underlined the importance of the land use sector as well as favourable political and societal frameworks for the integrated implementation of climate and biodiversity protection. 

Avoiding ‘Greenwashing’

Participants also viewed nature-based solutions (NbS) as having particular relevance in this context. Such solutions utilise functions from intact ecosystems – such as carbon sequestration, protection from erosion and regulation of water supplies – in order to counter climate change and maintain biodiversity. Nature-based solutions can therefore make an important contribution to meeting the targets from the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 2030. At the same time, it was noted that, in the case of private investments by large companies, it is these kinds of ‘green solutions’ that entail a growing risk of ‘greenwashing’. The participants stressed the importance of monitoring these risks from a social and political perspective, calling for the introduction of conditions appropriate for their mitigation or prevention.

Land use and infrastructure as key action areas 

Alongside the land use sector with a focus on food security, the participants also identified infrastructure measures as an important area for action. The increasing urbanisation and interconnectedness of modern life and the infrastructure this requires must not endanger intact ecosystems, and must address the challenges of climate change over the long term. In both sectors, land use and infrastructure, achieving successful change will be possible only with the involvement of the private sector. To do so, it is necessary to highlight the real benefits of investing in nature-based solutions. Risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis can also be used to reduce barriers to entry. Establishing research-based data and information repositories as well as the right policy frameworks are important preconditions here. 

Background – IKI´s International Advisory Group (IBK)

The first session of IKI’s International Advisory Group was held in 2008 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznań (COP 14). Since then, international experts drawn from research, civil society and international organisations have met once a year to discuss developments in IKI as well as climate and biodiversity policy. The BMU uses this platform as a means of working with experts to stimulate and enrich debate, and to develop IKI itself further.