Less than 75 days before the start of international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, hundreds of business leaders, NGO directors and government officials from all over the world gathered at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York to discuss solutions to pressing world issues.
On this global stage, The Nature Conservancy made a bold commitment on climate change: an investment of $25 million over the next three years to develop and implement ecosystem-based adaptation solutions at almost two dozen project sites around the world.
Along with significant emissions reductions, helping people and nature adapt to climate change is one of the most important strategies we have in combating climate change. The Nature Conservancy is already working on adaptation projects, and our scientific expertise and global reach make us uniquely able to achieve results. In short, this is an unprecedented commitment to ensuring that natural systems and the services they provide to people around the world will survive in the face of climate change.
This commitment will help nature and people prepare and respond to the environmental shifts that climate change will bring. In addition to its commitment, the Conservancy is working closely with other governments to help ensure that ecosystem-based adaptation solutions are part of a comprehensive global climate change agreement.
Even if carbon emissions dramatically ended tomorrow, the Earth could still experience warming and other effects of climate change for centuries.
These changes threaten to erode coastal areas, collapse fisheries, strain water supplies and shift habitats, with serious consequences for people, nature and wildlife.
The people most vulnerable to these changes are those whose livelihoods directly depend on nature — people like fishermen, farmers, ranchers and subsistence communities in developing countries. But everyone ultimately depends on the benefits nature provides, from clean water and air to food, fuel and shelter.
Ecosystem-based adaptation is a key Conservancy strategy that will help prepare plants, animals, ecosystems and people for the effects of climate change.
Through this commitment the Conservancy will identify places where we work around the world to serve as “living laboratories” to test how refinements to conservation plans could help preserve ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people in the face of a changing climate. Scientists and land managers from across the Conservancy recently met to exchange ideas about how to address climate change threats.
Here are just a few of the potential solutions they discussed:
As part of this commitment, the Conservancy will also undertake a significant research effort to document the specific benefits of ecosystem-based approaches, including how cost-effective they are.
While creating ecosystem-based adaptation solutions is imperative, we must lessen the severity of the impacts on people and nature by significantly cutting carbon emissions as soon as possible. The best chance to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change might be in December 2009, when the world’s governments meet in Copenhagen at the United Nations climate change conference.
The Conservancy is actively participating in activities leading up to this meeting to ensure that a comprehensive global agreement on climate change includes: