Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Pacific featured at climate change side event in Korea

12 October, 2011, Changwon, Korea - The voice of the South Pacific was heard amongst the African concerns at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Korea.

While 41% of the earth’s land area are drylands that house two billion people, in the Pacific region only 2% is terrestrial while 98% is ocean.  Despite this land degradation is a major concern for the Pacific region under this Convention. Without the ability to grow food, protect water sources the Pacific faces major threats ranging from loss of livelihoods ecosystems and loss of food security.

Day 3 of the two week conference focused on Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change: Addressing Adaptation and Mitigation at the Rio Ecosystems Pavilion. 

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) was one of a panel of six that presented on the Pacific environment at a special session on Dryland Protected Areas:  Ecosystem-based Approaches(EbA) to Climate Change.

Bruce Jefferies the Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Officer at SPREP provided a Pacific overview of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem based adaptation which clearly outlined that drylands are not a landmark of the Pacific, however the Pacific is utilising EbA to adapt to climate change.

“The Pacific makes up 30% of the surface area of the planet and the islands are very diverse,” said Jefferies.

“Small islands don’t have the advantages that continents have, communities can’t move to higher altitudes and they are very small so moving laterally is also unrealistic.  We’re here to provide a “Pacific Voice” at this Conference and to ensure that the Pacific is back on the global radar.”

The SPREP Conservation International (CI) partnership is working on a Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project. This aims at encouraging climate change adaptation that integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall strategy that will help people adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

“In the Pacific mangrove protection is valued at between US200, 000.000– 900,000.00 per hectare.  Without mangroves protection the communities, would be vulnerable to storm surges and tsunamis that not only cause environment degradation, but have already caused loss of life.”

Another key point from the panel presentations was made by Ms. Kathy MacKinnon of the IUCN - World Commission on Protected Areas that are promoting Natural solutions.

“Land conversion is responsible for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions.  If we can stop habitat loss we can reduce these emissions.  12.7% of the World’s land surfaces are Protected Areas, through protecting our biodiversity and ecosystem services and good we can help people cope with climate change, desertification, drought, and land degradation.”

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