Nature-Based Climate Solutions Like #30×30 Gaining Traction With New COP Leaders


Photo: Sustainability Times

Yesterday was #HumanRightsDay and the importance of access to and conserving nature as a basic human right was emphasized repeatedly at the UN Climate Meeting in Madrid — sustaining biodiversity is increasingly recognized for its benefits to addressing the climate emergency. And as developing countries are stepping up to fill the leadership void at the Climate Meeting, their leaders are looking for multifaceted climate solutions that conserve biodiversity as well as providing for sustainable use of natural resources.

Why This Matters:  It is just this simple — without biodiversity, life on Earth for humans is not possible.  As Enric Sala, our Friend of the Planet and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence said at the Climate Meeting, the planet can provide all that we need to sustain ourselves indefinitely as a species — the air we breathe, the water we drink, and all the food we need — all we have to do is protect half of it.  That is a very high bar to reach given our current trajectory.  But if we started by protecting or restoring 30 percent of the planet by 2030 for nature itself, that would provide huge carbon capture as well as biodiversity benefits.  

Developing Countries See Biodiversity Conservation As a Crucial Climate Solution

A panel of environmental ministers with increasing clout — from Costa Rica, Gabon, Grenada and the Republic of Congo — said they have no interest in rapidly depleting their countries’ natural resources — they instead want to build their growing economies around sustainable development and even restoration of past damage caused by extractive industry.  It is not unusual in these countries for the Environment minister to wear two or more “hats,” which instead of leading to more unsustainable resource use, in fact, drives them toward conservation.

For example, the Minister of Environment and Tourism in the Republic of Congo, Arlette Soudan-Nonault, said that preserving nature is essential to her country’s economic health — if they do not preserve the Congo Basin, they will see their population leave and with it their potential for prosperity.  The Congo Basin contains 10% of the world’s biodiversity and is the world’s second-largest climate sink. It is also home to 250 million people whose welfare depends on tourism and restoring their “natural capital.”  She is leading a cooperative of 60 countries in the region to work on climate/biodiversity conservation and restoration projects funded by global financial institutions.

And Gabon, which has always been a conservation leader in the region, has a new environment minister, scientist Lee White, who has redoubled the country’s fight against illegal logging by strengthening governance of forests with a new tougher criminal statute banning illegal logging.  He aims to protect Gabon’s forests, which cover close to 90% of the country and provide huge carbon sink benefits.  Why? Not just because illegal logging was robbing his country of its natural resources and making their people less safe. But also because saving trees is profitable too.  Gabon signed a deal with Norway at September’s U.N. Climate Summit for $150 million over 10 years to protect its carbon-absorbing tropical forests, White explained to Reuters.  And White says “(If) we lose the forest of eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), we lose the rainfall in Ethiopia’s highlands. (If) you lose the rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands, you lose half of the Nile, and so you create famine in Egypt.”

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