A Colorado State University researcher was the only American academic to help author a report for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that addresses the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide and highlights how ecosystem services can aid in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The report, “Connecting Biodiversity and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation – Report of the Second Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change,” was published this month by the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity. The printed version of the document will be launched at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in Copenhagen, Dec. 7-18, 2009.
Julia Klein, assistant professor in the Warner College of Natural Resources’ Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship, participated in the Second Ad hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change. The group was convened in response to the international Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and was charged with providing biodiversity-related information to the UNFCCC process.
According to the report, climate change has already adversely affected biological diversity and ecosystems, which provide a wide range of ecosystem services essential for human well-being. These ecosystem services are diverse and include products such as food and processes such as regulation of the climate system. Continued climate change will have predominately negative social, cultural and economic consequences, with disproportionate effects on the world’s poor, as their livelihoods are being severely undermined by these ecosystem changes.
The report highlights how ecosystems and their services can help society adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and also help to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. There are many examples of ecosystem-based adaptations, including maintaining or restoring mangroves and wetlands to reduce flooding and erosion. Mitigation suggestions particularly focus on land management activities, such as sustainably managing forests and reforestation activities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.
“In the report we discuss how ecosystem approaches can and should be used as a strategy for societal adaptation to climate change,” said Klein. “We aimed to provide information on techniques for valuing biodiversity and its ecological services while identifying the benefits and challenges of ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation. At the end of the day we want global decision makers to be educated on these topics.”
Nearly 40 participants from around the world worked on generating the report. Participants came from national governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and various UN organizations. Observers and negotiators from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change were also present. The publication can be found at https://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-41-en.pdf.