UNESCO and Partners Highlight Value of Blue Carbon Initiatives

UNESCO IOC26 April 2012: The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-IOC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International (CI) organized a side event on the margins of the second round of "informal-informal" consultations on the zero draft of the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), to sensitize UN delegates of the potential value of national investment in coastal ecosystem conservation through blue carbon initiatives, as mean to ensure to long term sustainability of coastal areas and green economic development while mitigating climate change.

Titled "Blue Carbon: a Tool to Mitigate Climate Change and Preserve Key Marine and Coastal Ecosystems," the event took place in New York, US, on 26 April 2012. It provided an opportunity to discuss and present a number innovative tools building on the work of the Blue Carbon Policy Framework. Participants addressed, inter alia: the science behind the role of coastal ecosystems as carbon sinks; the potential economic value of coastal carbon; the immediate policy options to integrate coastal carbon management into climate change mitigation activities; and the ongoing international activities on advancing Blue Carbon.

The event was moderated by Amb. Eduardo Ulibarri, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN, who called for raising awareness on the mitigating value of blue carbon and including blue carbon in the climate change negotiations.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General, stressed the urgency of conserving coastal ecosystems and emphasized that the carbon capacity of various such ecosystems exceeds that of many other terrestrial habitats.

Emily Pidgeon, CI, provided an overview of the Blue Carbon Initiative, which aims to increase conservation, restoration and sustainable management of coastal blue carbon ecosystems.

Miguel Cifuentes, CATIE, Costa Rica, emphasized that significant amounts of carbon emissions are released through the destruction of coastal habitats, land use conversions and upstream disruptions, stressing the role of coastal ecosystems in maintain tropical commercial fish species.

David Gordon, Duke University, spoke on the economics of blue carbon, calling for the incoporaation of blue carbon economies into existing voluntary markets and future mitigation activities.

Julian Barbiere, UNESCO-IOC, provided an overview of activities that have taken place under the Blue Carbon Initiative, including: awareness raising; consultations with stakeholders and policy makers; and the development of a Blue Carbon Policy Framework.

During the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia: the co-benefits of disaster risk reduction (DDR) of coastal ecosystem protection; coastal ecosystems' carbon value; and the difficulty of establishing carbon inventories for coastal ecosystems. [UNESCO Press Release] [Event Webpage] [Event Presentation] [IISD RS Coverage of the second round of informal informal]