IUCN Director General’s statement on the recent extreme weather events and climate change
We are facing a summer of extremes. Devastating floods have inundated Germany, Belgium, China, and India. Meanwhile, heatwaves have gripped the United States, Canada, Russia, and countries around the Mediterranean, causing catastrophic wildfires to burn for weeks.
IUCN mourns the lives lost in these disasters, and the Union stands with all who have been affected.
Photo: Atul / Unsplash
These extreme weather events have become more frequent and destructive as a result of climate change – a fact highlighted by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which again underscores the urgent need for rapid, ambitious, and sustained cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and for deep decarbonisation across all sectors of the global economy today.
On this journey, we have a strong ally to help us, both as we recover from the disasters, and as we mitigate and adapt to climate change: nature itself.
As I pointed out in my open letter ahead of the G20 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, investing in the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the world’s ecosystems can provide around a third of the cost-effective climate mitigation that we need by 2030 limit warming to below 2 degrees C.
Specific approaches such as ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and ecosystem-based adaptation – two essential pillars of Nature-based Solutions – can support recovery and rehabilitation efforts, while reducing the impacts of future extreme weather events at the same time.
Floods can be better controlled by restoring rivers to their natural state and reconnecting them to floodplains. Wildfire risks can be reduced by replanting native tree species, and by allowing small-scale controlled burning. Instead of being quick fixes, such efforts contribute to resilience and will help protect against the longer term and negative impacts of climate change.
The disasters facing us must be a call to action. We need to integrate Nature-based Solutions more strongly both in our climate and our recovery efforts. IUCN, with its deep knowledge of Nature-based Solutions and the tools to implement them, is ready to play a key role in this. Only with nature, ambitious emissions cuts, and deep decarbonisation can the world hope to meet the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
I look forward to engaging with you at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, so that we continue this important conversation and build momentum.