IUCN's influence in action

A paper being submitted to the UN climate talks in Durban this week is a very significant step in the history of IUCN’s efforts to have ecosystems, and even protected area systems, seen as fundamentally important in any new climate change treaty, writes Trevor Sandwith.

Trevor Sandwith Photo: Trevor Sandwith

The reason for the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) project on ‘Natural Solutions: protected areas helping people cope with climate change’ was ultimately to influence climate change and biodiversity policy. In particular, IUCN and partners have sought to embed the concept of ecosystem-based approaches (EbA) to climate change in these policies.

Some of you will recall that the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) secretariat was tasked with providing a background paper on Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation. Kathy MacKinnon and I interacted with the UNFCCC and in the end were appointed as peer reviewers of this paper, also consulting with Ed Barrow of IUCN’s Ecosystem Management Programme.

Our colleague Ninni Ikkala reminded me of the frantic nights spent preparing and lobbying a consolidated position across a range of institutions in Poznan in December 2008 to introduce the concept of EbA into the debate, and now, three years later, here we have the official body of the UNFCCC actually compiling and writing about this topic.

As the Durban conference kicks off, I just wanted to provide this note of encouragement to IUCN’s delegation and to the many others involved in pushing for the adoption of natural solutions to climate change, not to be deterred by the seeming impasse of negotiations. On the issue of REDD—Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, on EBA and on many others topics, our collective input in pushing for, justifying, providing examples for, and generally being influential, really pays off.

Trevor Sandwith is Director of IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme.

Work area: 
Climate Change
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