Story | 05 Dec, 2015

Building the next level for coastal blue carbon action

Today, Australian Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt announced the establishment of an International Partnership for Blue Carbon. The partnership creates a collaborative network of governments, non-profit organisations, intergovernmental agencies, and scientists to scale up and amplify understanding of blue carbon and to accelerate action on the important role coastal blue carbon ecosystems play in climate change actions.

“It is encouraging to see more nations recognising blue carbon and other nature-based solutions as powerful allies in efforts to combat climate change,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General, at a joint press conference with Hunt and Emily Pidgeon, Senior Director of Strategic Marine Initiatives at Conservation International, during the Global Landscape Forum 2015 at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris.

“Australia’s announcement today to establish an International Partnership for Blue Carbon is a meaningful step in building momentum behind this essential piece of the overall climate solution,” Andersen continued.

The International Partnership for Blue Carbon builds on work done by IUCN and its partners Conservation International and IOC-UNESCO as part of the Blue Carbon Initiative. The founding members of the International Partnership for Blue Carbon will develop a roadmap to guide their work, and work to bring in new members.

Coastal blue carbon ecosystems - seagrasses, tidal marshes, and mangroves – make up only 2–6% of the total area of tropical forests, yet degradation of these ecosystems is equivalent to 19% of carbon emissions from global deforestation. These coastal ecosystems also provide critical ecosystem services, such as disaster risk reduction, water filtration, and fisheries habitat.

Blue carbon ecosystems therefore provide nations with simultaneous and significant climate change adaptation and mitigation benefits.

A growing recognition of the value and importance of coastal blue carbon ecosystems has motivated a range of activities to better manage blue carbon resources, including in the context of REDD+, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), voluntary carbon markets, and post-2020 Intended National Determined Contributions.

Some countries have also started work towards including coastal blue carbon ecosystems in their national greenhouse gas inventory through implementation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supplementary guidance on wetlands. Support for science in blue carbon ecosystems is also growing.