Healthy and resilient ecosystems substantially contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation and can help prevent and buffer natural disasters. On 27-28 February 2013, the IUCN Caucasus Cooperation Centre organized a workshop in collaboration with IUCN’s Member organization CENN (Caucasus Environmental NGO Network) on “Nature-based solutions to Climate Change: Global Best Practice and Experiences in the Caucasus Ecoregion”.
Thematically the event was located at the interface of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and ecosystem-based management of natural hazards. The effective management of ecosystems on the ecoregion level (see Caucasus Ecoregional Conservation Plan), the need to expand existing protected areas and to increase the connectivity of the highly fragmented system of these areas were some of the key topics addressed. The workshop also tackled risk assessment and vulnerability mapping, and the contribution of sustainable resource management to the resilience of ecosystems, mainly regarding soil improvement and stabilization.
The workshop provided a forum for dialogue for actors involved in nature conservation in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It was noted that improved cooperation and efforts to strengthen transboundary conservation in the region would be beneficial, as would be the involvement of local communities. The presentation of Turkey's recent Protected Area Strategy stimulated discussion on the possibilities for such process in the Southern Caucasus.
Another central issue was the potential of economic valuation of ecosystem services for the region. Participants paid significant interest to this approach, fairly new to the Caucasus. In result, a number of opportunities and challenges have been recognized, with a special emphasis on the factor “time” as being crucial: initiatives are comparatively young and more time is needed to optimize implementation.
The event was organized in the frame of IUCN’s current pilot project on Natural solutions to Climate Change: the Role of Protected Areas and integrates into IUCN’s global priority area on ecosystem-based solutions to global challenges.