Nature-Based Solutions Can Help Fight Climate Change

U.N. talks in Egypt expected to focus on how to meet Paris Agreement goals

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Nature-Based Solutions Can Help Fight Climate Change
Mangroves planted in an area
A healthy mangrove forest, such as this one in the Mida Creek in Malindi, Kenya, can sequester a large amount of carbon each year. Half of the planet’s mangroves have been lost in the past 50 years

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries will gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from Nov. 6-18 at the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference —known as COP27—in an effort to agree on solutions to combat climate change.

A sense of urgency will underscore the talks, as longer heat waves, more intense storms, rising sea levels, and melting ice caps continue to mount—increasing the need for meaningful, swift, and ambitious action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The meeting comes on the heels of a new climate report from the UNFCCC that found that although governments are making progress on emissions reductions, they are doing so much too slowly.

At the meeting, known as the “Africa COP” given its location, negotiators will discuss climate mitigation and adaptation, focusing especially on how to increase technical assistance and galvanize financing for developing countries. They’re expected to hash out final details on how to deliver on the goals established in the Paris Agreement, the landmark international climate change treaty that came out of the 2015 UNFCCC and commits the world to capping warming at 2 degrees Celsius and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Much of the discussion will center on how to use nature as a key source for climate action; science emphasizes that the world can’t meet its climate goals without protecting and restoring nature, which has the power to sequester and store carbon in soils for long periods of time while maintaining healthy, climate-resilient ecosystems.

At COP27, The Pew Charitable Trusts will highlight the work of several partnerships that seek to help countries meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement—the commitments countries have made to reduce global emissions and the impacts of climate change—by protecting carbon-rich habitats, delivering climate-smart solutions, and establishing innovative and sustained financing to respond to the loss and damage that people and nature already face from climate change.

The partnerships include approaches such as Australian carbon farming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and holding carbon in vegetation and soils; analysis of blue carbon potential in San Francisco Bay’s tidal wetlands to inform new climate policy action; seagrass mapping and carbon assessment in the Seychelles; mangrove carbon stock assessments in Belize; restoration of mangrove forests in Costa Rica; and a 1-million-acre salt marsh conservation project in the South Atlantic.

The time for action is now. The climate conference gives world leaders an opportunity to elevate nature-based solutions through concrete and meaningful financial commitments—a critical part of making this Africa COP a success.

Courtney Durham is an officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ international conservation efforts and Lauren Spurrier is a senior director with Pew’s land and freshwater conservation team.