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Forest Trends

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GLOBAL MEDIA RELEASE: Monday November 29, 2021, 07:00 AM EST, Washington DC, United States

Nature for Climate Action: Nature-based Solutions in the Nationally Determined Contributions

New policy research on nature-based solutions to deep resilience for climate action is published today by Forest Trends and the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA).

Authors: Jan Cassin – Forest Trends (Corresponding Author), Kari Davis – AGWA and Dr John H. Matthews – AGWA.



Background for media 

This new report from Forest Trends and the Global Alliance for Water Adaptation provides an important contribution to how we need to think about adaptation in the context of climate change and its associated uncertainties.

It calls for new approaches that go beyond simply reacting to climate impacts to building the kind of deep resilience that will allow us to thrive despite the challenges of an uncertain future. It shows how nature-based solutions are essential assets for strengthening resilience – facilitating the kinds of social, economic, and environmental persistence, adaptation, and positive transformations in the face of change that will allow people and nature to continue to thrive.

COP 26 in Glasgow highlighted three urgent issues for getting climate action right:

1. The key role that nature, and investments in nature, must play in climate action, particularly in mitigating GHG emissions and removing carbon from the atmosphere to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The essential role that indigenous peoples and local communities play as the stewards of the world’s forests, wetlands and grasslands was officially recognized for the first time and this was accompanied by timely actions, including the launch of the Peoples Forests Partnership.

2. The centrality of water as the medium of climate impacts and the enabler of climate adaptation was front and centre in the Water Pavilion.

The global water community came together, mobilizing partners in the climate sector to debut the first Water and Climate Pavilion (Water Pavilion) at a COP.

The Water Pavilion took place over two weeks (November 1 to 12, 2021), these in person and online conversations elevated ideas on; adaptation and resilience, cities and infrastructure, climate resilient water and sanitation, cooperation, disaster risk reduction, energy, finance, food and agriculture, nature and youth and civil society, to bring solutions to the highest possible levels through a unified voice on the role of water in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and in supporting ambitious and science-based global climate action. Participants in the Water Pavilion demonstrated how water is the language of climate change and water resilience is the language of climate action.

3. The COP 26 meetings highlighted the need for a stronger focus on countries’ adaptation actions and the gaps that still remain in the attention given to these actions, including the need for robust financing for adaptation.

Accelerating action on adaptation is critical, given the increasing pace of extreme floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, devastating storms and tides, that already impact communities around the world, and disproportionately impact vulnerable communities of small states and island nations that are at greater risk and have not played a (historical and industrial) role in driving climate change.

The good news at Glasgow was the volume of discussions about nature-based solutions (NBS), especially for mitigation, but also the significant calls to action on NBS for adaptation. NBS for adaptation that are carefully designed can also deliver mitigation benefits by sequestering carbon in plants and soils.

The somewhat less good news is the current thinking and action on adaptation, don’t account for the uncertainties around climate change. Uncertainties run deep and the global vulnerabilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic call for re-thinking how we approach adaptation.