As government leaders adjust economic policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the merits of aligning those with international climate commitments—known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement—are becoming clear. Rooting nature at the heart of recovery efforts can help governments rebuild economies, societies, and ecosystems in a more sustainable manner.
Specifically, countries should enhance protection and/or restoration of coastal wetlands—habitats such as mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrasses that offer a full spectrum of benefits for people and the planet. These ecosystems can help countries strengthen their economies, enhance the lives and livelihoods of their people, protect biodiversity, and help to achieve international climate commitments.
By buffering against storm surges, filtering water, sustaining biodiversity and storing globally significant amounts of carbon, coastal wetlands exemplify how nature-based solutions can drive a green recovery. The animation above illuminates the extensive value of these ecosystems.
The need to protect and invest in these ecosystems is compounded by the alarming rate at which they are being lost: 50% of the world’s coastal wetlands have disappeared in the past 100 years.
Scientific understanding of the climate benefits provided by coastal wetlands is well established—and, in fact, forms the basis of guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That’s a solid foundation from which countries can enhance protections within the mitigation component of their next NDCs. Further, coastal wetlands can also feature prominently in the adaptation and resilience components of an NDC, given the wide variety of ecosystem services and protections they provide to frontline communities and the wildlife that call these ecosystems home.
To support these efforts, Pew and its partners are actively working with a range of government and non-state partners in Belize, Costa Rica, and Seychelles—countries that have expressed the ambition to enhance coastal wetland protections in their next NDCs. Pew commends the leadership of these governments and encourages others to make similar commitments for the good of their people, their economies, and the global environment.