A changing climate

From climate commitments to action

The IUCN World Conservation Congress held in Hawai'i this month calls on the global community to implement effective, inclusive nature-based solutions to climate change.

Nature disrupted

Human-induced climate change is threatening everyone and everything today: species, ecosystems and human communities worldwide.

Climate change – including extreme temperatures, increases in storms, flooding, drought and sea-level rise – now affects 19% of species listed as Threatened or Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 
Adelie penguins are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List  © Eli Duke (CC BY SA 2.0)

The IUCN Congress has advanced our understanding of climate change, including the impacts of ocean warming and the climate change vulnerability of species, as well as nature-based solutions centred on ecosystem-based mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Solutions from nature

Healthy ecosystems such as forests, oceans and wetlands make an important contribution to combating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon.
Giant kelp forest  © NOAA (CC BY 2.0)

They also help make vulnerable communities more resilient to climate change, especially those that depend on natural resources, and provide other valuable economic, social and environmental benefits.

"Raising the importance of nature-based solutions that can be easily implemented if we compare them to other solutions is very relevant" – Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, speaking at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

Through the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of natural ecosystems, IUCN and the global conservation community have been providing effective and practical solutions to climate change.

"There are studies that are saying we are facing a 40% shortage of water for agriculture, for energy, for consumption. So it is important to conserve peatland ecosystems as a way to help adaptation and resilience to climate change" – Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General, The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, at the IUCN Congress High Level Dialogue on climate change
© Ninara (CC BY 2.0)

During the IUCN Congress, Members adopted a motion for the use of protected areas as a natural solution to climate change. An ambitious new partnership was also launched to identify and conserve Key Biodiversity Areas with more than US$ 15 million committed over next five years.

Members also adopted a motion to integrate nature-based solutions into strategies to combat climate change, while governments and organisations committed to restoring over 113 million hectares of forest through the Bonn Challenge, exceeding the 100 million hectare milestone just five years after its launch.

IUCN has also been working through the Mangroves for the Future initiative to increase coastal resilience to climate change and other pressures.

The Paris Agreement recognised the critical role that ecosystems can play in tackling climate change.
Mangroves, Puerto Rico © Ricardo Mangual (CC BY 2.0)

IUCN Members have now adopted a motion elaborating IUCN's response to the Paris Agreement charting out a course of action for the Union for the next four years.

Other climate-related motions adopted include securing the future for global peatlands, support for forest landscape restoration in Africa, protecting primary forests, and taking greater account of oceans in the climate regime.

Held in Hawai'i, the IUCN Congress brought together over 100 events around the climate change theme.

"This has got to be an all-out intensive effort because we have no choice but to succeed, because we have no place else where we can go" – Peter Seligmann, CEO, Conservation International, at the IUCN Congress High Level Dialogue on climate change
© IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth and Diego Noguera

For more information on climate change-related motions, click here.

Held in Honolulu, Hawai'i from 1-10 September 2016, the IUCN Congress helped define the path to a sustainable future.

© Dave Poore