Use ecosystems, reduce risks


Mangroves protect coastal areas from extreme weather events; picture: iStockphoto/Tony Oquia.

The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) closely examined the links between preserving biodiversity, climate change and disaster risk reduction, and also published a draft decision on the outcome. Among other things, the document calls on the conference parties to gather and evaluate information on ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk management. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) introduced this matter into the negotiations in close cooperation with Japan, against the backdrop of IUCN's own experiences in implementing similar measures in the context of an International Climate Initiative (IKI) project.

Click here to view the COP draft decision: PDF (169 KB, external)

With a consortium comprised of international non-governmental organisations and universities, the project has started to draw up five case studies that identify and document the multiple benefits of preserving ecosystems. Ecosystems such as forests, mangroves and wetlands provide natural protection against extreme weather conditions like floods, storms and droughts. They also serve as habitats for many plant and animal species, as well as a source of livelihood for local populations. This is now widely accepted and is a frequent subject of discussion. However, systematic analyses of how to capitalise on these natural protective functions and the effect this has are often lacking. This is where the case studies are to provide relief. They address the climatic challenges and ecosystems, as well as ways of life and traditional adaptation strategies deployed by local populations in Chile, China, Nepal, Thailand and West Africa. The project combines strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change with approaches designed to preserve biodiversity. The results of these studies will be presented clearly and will also be published internationally.