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Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss together

03 November 2020
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Image: Wirestock/Adobe Stock

Climate change and biodiversity loss are twin crises that should be tackled together. Conserving, managing, and restoring ecosystems are key to success.  

In addition to the direct impacts on the economy, societies and people’s health, rapidly advancing climate change negatively impacts many of the world’s species and ecosystems, driving biodiversity loss. At the same time, protecting and restoring biodiversity is crucial to addressing climate change.

Working with nature to conserve, manage and restore ecosystems – known as nature-based solutions – is one of the most cost-effective approaches to both mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Recent research found that restoring 30% of lands that have been converted for farming in priority areas, alongside retaining natural ecosystems, would prevent over 70% of projected extinctions of mammals, birds and amphibians whilst also putting us on track to sequester almost half of all the CO2 increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.

Nature-based solutions such as restoration are particularly effective because, unlike infrastructure-based interventions, actions that boost biodiversity can help to tackle climate change in two ways at once: through mitigation and adaptation. As well as sequestering and storing carbon, ecosystems can help communities adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, as well as providing multiple other benefits.

Here are 4 examples of how conserving, managing, and restoring ecosystems can contribute to both climate change mitigation and adaptation:

Peatlands

Forests

Seagrass

Mangroves

The next ten years is a crucial window for tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. Success will require coordinated, global efforts and local actions that address both issues in an integrated manner. Scaling up the use of nature-based solutions is a critical part of this work.

Achieving this will depend on increasing awareness of and building capacity towards implementing nature-based solutions across governments, businesses, and communities. Continuing to build the growing evidence base on nature-based solutions and their effectiveness will also be crucial, and there is a growing range of tools to advise on best practice.

As the international community looks to the launch of the UN Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration next year, nature-based solutions are of particular importance. Ambitious steps to conserve, manage, and restore ecosystems could unlock multiple, essential benefits for both people and planet.