Three recommendations to meet the increasing need for climate resilient landscapes

28 June 2018

Climate change increases the risk of natural disasters, migration by climate refugees and conflicts concerning the availability of land and water. IUCN NL and WWF Netherlands therefore plead for scaling up and multiplying ecosystem-based climate adaptation initiatives at the local level. If local authorities and companies make use of the insights of local civil society organizations and the natural dynamics in an ecosystem, they can take timely measures to manage natural resources in a sustainable way to become more resilient to negative consequences of climate change.

We emphasize the importance of the following three actions to meet the increasing need for climate resilient landscapes.

Take measures for climate adaptation at the local level

With the Paris climate agreement, governments agreed to scale up the budget for climate activities and to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation. However, investments in climate adaptation are globally lagging behind, in particular from the public sectors, according to the Climate Policy Initiative (2017), OECD (2016) and Oxfam (2018). Moreover, a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) shows that only 10% of the funding from climate funds reaches initiatives at the local level.

To ensure that natural and social systems are sufficiently resilient to face the current and expected consequences of climate change, it is necessary to scale up public and private investments in climate adaptation. In Bolivia, for instance, our partners work with local authorities to define climate adaptation plans that consider and benefit from natural ecosystems. With the help of climate scenarios and local consultation meetings, the government plans various adaptation measures to assists local producers to adopt climate-resilient land use activities and to create more space for rivers. The implementation of these adaptations measures requires funds at the local level. To scale up the necessary investments in climate adaptation, we would like to see the Netherlands set a leading example for the rest of the world and to set the target that at least 50% of climate finance should reach initiatives at the local level.

Make use of natural ecosystems

Social cost-benefit analyses show that investments based on ecosystem (and community)-based climate adaptation are more sustainable (both from a social and ecological perspective) and often more cost-effective than investments in conventional, gray climate adaptation interventions (NEF consulting, 2014). After all, nature-based solutions provide a multitude of ecosystem services. Mangroves, for example, provide a regulating and protective green barrier system for coastal communities and businesses. The local government in Aceh therefore subscribed to recommendations for sustainable mangrove forest management. To foster nature-based solutions for climate resilient landscapes, we plead for including criteria for ecosystem-based climate adaptation (EbA) in both the design of adaption measures and the financing framework for climate activities.

Involve civil society organizations in national climate adaptation plans

One of the ways to increase attention for (ecosystem-based) climate adaptation at the landscape level is through the national climate adaptation plans, for which the UNFCCC Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAF) and the related national adaptation plans laid the foundations. The involvement of civil society organizations is of great importance in the design and implementation of these plans, because these groups can ensure that various ecological, social and economic interests are taken into account. We therefore facilitate cooperation between local organizations and governments so that the expertise of civil society organizations can contribute to healthy ecosystems that ensure climate resilient landscapes.

In Burkina Faso and Ghana, for example, the basin of the Volta River is under pressure. Together with governments, companies and local communities, our partners work on concrete climate adaptation measures concerning river and forest management. These kind of locally supported ecosystem-based solutions are an essential part of the implementation of national climate adaptation plans.

Joint action

The increasing impact of climate change requires action. Later this year, IUCN NL and WWF Netherlands are therefore organizing an expert meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the IIED and other knowledge institutes to develop a joint action plan to increase the effective and appropriate use of climate adaption funds at the landscape level. Climate resilient landscapes are expected to contribute to safeguarding water security and food security in the short and long term.

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