Nature-based solutions for climate change

Danial Norjidi

The importance of including nature-based solutions as part of the approach in addressing climate change was underscored during the ‘Biodiversity and Building Resilience to the Impacts of Climate Change in the ASEAN’ webinar.

The webinar, organised by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission on December 15, coincided with the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

Supported by Swedbio, a programme from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the event gathered a diverse panel of experts who shared their perspectives and insights on biodiversity and nature’s role in building resilience against the climate crisis.

The discourse on nature-based solutions, as well as the ecosystem-based approach to climate change adaptation, has been gaining more ground in light of the current ecological and health crises.

“Climate change is one of the main culprits that drive the loss of nature,” ACB Executive Director Dr Theresa Mundita Lim said.

“However, the main paradox here is that biodiversity and its ecosystem services underpin our principal solutions and efforts to tackle climate change and its impacts. Without a healthy biodiversity, our fight against climate change would be an impossible feat,” she said.

Panellists at the webinar noted the discussion’s relevance as the global community is developing post-2020 biodiversity targets.

The 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in 2021.

Programme officer of SwedBio Tristan Tyrrell said, recent reports are showing that “trends are going in the wrong way when it comes to climate change”, as the gaps between commitments and action to achieve the Paris targets of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions are widening.

“As devastating as the impacts of COVID-19 have been, some scenarios suggest that it will have a positive impact in terms of global GHG emissions,” he said.

“We could use this opportunity as what has been called, ‘the great reset’, to ramp up positive ecosystem-based actions in climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

Meanwhile, Head of Southeast Asia COP26 of the British High Commission Strategy Dr Isabelle de Lovinfosse said, “As the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, we owe it to future generations to base our recovery on solid foundations, including a greener, more resilient, and inclusive global economy.”

The event also featured a recorded presentation from Deputy Secretary General Malaysia Ministry of Environment and Water Dr Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu, who discussed how Malaysia has prioritised their Nationally Determined Contributions to work towards supporting various adaptation measures.

Executive Director of Institut Dayakologi Indonesia Krissusandi Gunui said that the knowledge and wisdom of indigenous peoples and local communities are significant in strengthening climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation.

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary-General of the Cambodian National Council for Sustainable Development Sum Thy urged for closer coordination between the ASEAN Working Groups on Climate Change and Nature Conservation and Biodiversity. Cooperation at such a level might be helpful in addressing the barriers to promoting and implementing nature-based solutions, he added.

“ASEAN, through its sound leadership and structures such as the ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment, and sectoral bodies, strives to promote robust cooperation and joint actions towards our commitments to biodiversity and in building resilience to climate change,” said Head of the Environment Division of the ASEAN Secretariat Dr Vong Sok.

He also called on all biodiversity and climate change actors and partners to create more synergies between biodiversity conservation and climate action so as to build back better for the future.

The webinar was moderated by Chief, Policy Research and Development of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission Jerome Ilagan.

Dr Robert Mather of the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN, and Executive Director of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management Adelina Kamal also joined the webinar.

United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to ASEAN Jon Lambe, Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources Assistant Secretary Ricardo L Calderon as well as students and conservationists from ASEAN member states also participated.