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UNEP-WCMC Brief Highlights Role of Biodiversity in Addressing Climate Change

The UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has released a policy brief connecting the dots between protecting biodiversity and acting on climate change. The brief, 'Addressing Climate Change: Why Biodiversity Matters,' discusses the potential negative effects of climate change mitigation programmes on biodiversity. It concludes biodiversity conservation can support climate change mitigation and adaptation goals if all potential impacts are weighed carefully in the policymaking process.

Conserving biological diversity can also have the added effect of helping ensure the permanence of mitigation and adaptation benefits. The brief acknowledges that there may be trade-offs between biodiversity and climate change policies but argues these trade-offs can be minimized when mutual benefits are recognized and incorporated into policy design.

When climate change action ignores possible consequences, such as biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, it undermines the very ecosystem services that are "vital for mitigation and adaptation," according to the brief. For instance, a focus only on carbon in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) implementation can displace land-use pressures to other ecosystems, potentially impacting the ability of humans dependent on those ecosystems to adapt as the climate changes.

The brief covers how to integrate biodiversity in climate change policy planning, including the application of biodiversity criteria, safeguards and other measures that should accompany mitigation and adaptation projects. It also advocates coordination between international agreements on climate change and biodiversity.

The brief is the result of a research project undertaken by the German International Climate Initiative (IKI), which has identified biodiversity criteria for creating, selecting and monitoring adaptation and carbon sink projects in forests and wetlands. [UNEP-WCMC Press Release] [Publication: Addressing Climate Change: Why Biodiversity Matters]

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