CIFOR joins Australian-led International Partnership for Blue Carbon

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is pleased to be a founding partner of the International Partnership for Blue Carbon, announced by the Australian Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on 6 December.

“It is an enormous opportunity, as has been recognized here, for reducing emissions, for improving marine biodiversity, and in particular for providing support for traditional communities and coastal communities,” Minister Hunt said at the launch of the initiative, which was established by the Australian Department of the Environment.

Daniel Murdiyarso, a principal scientist at CIFOR who contributed to the IPCC Wetlands Supplement, welcomed the initiative. “Having political will at such a high level is much appreciated,” he said.

Research by CIFOR and its partners over several years has demonstrated the immense value of mangroves for multiple reasons, including as carbon sinks, especially in the case of Indonesia, which has the largest area of mangroves of any country in the world.

Minister Hunt further described the partnership as an opportunity for improving marine biodiversity and providing support for traditional coastal communities, an aspect CIFOR’s work also supports.

“We need to work more from the adaptation angle,” Murdiyarso said. “We know very little about how coastal ecosystems and the communities who depend on them will cope with sea level rise and other stressors.”

CIFOR will also contribute to the partnership with a learning toolbox developed by the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP) to inform policy makers on the role of tropical wetlands and adaptation and mitigation strategies to climate change.

The full press release issued by the Australian Department of the Environment is reproduced below.

Australia establishes International Partnership for Blue Carbon

Media release
6 December 2015

At the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris, Australia is pleased to announce that we are establishing an International Partnership for Blue Carbon.

The Partnership brings together governments, non-profit organisations, intergovernmental agencies, and scientists to increase understanding of, and accelerate action on the important role of coastal blue carbon ecosystems in climate change action.

Blue carbon – carbon stored in marine and coastal habitats – could play a significant role in reducing emissions, while also supporting biodiversity conservation, fisheries habitat protection, and disaster risk reduction.

Research has already demonstrated that coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass beds and salt marshes can be much more effective than forests at sequestering carbon.

The Partnership establishes a collaborative network of governments, non-profit organisations, intergovernmental agencies, and scientists to support:

  • Measurement of coastal blue carbon ecosystems and their capacity to absorb carbon emissions;
  • development of innovative approaches to protect and enhance coastal blue carbon ecosystems;
  • science and research to support blue carbon measurement and management;
  • capacity building and knowledge transfer across countries;
  • the mobilization of funding to support coastal blue carbon ecosystem management from the private sector and mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund.
  • While constituting only 2-6 per cent of the total area of tropical forest, degradation of these ecosystems emits the equivalent of 19 per cent of the annual carbon emissions from global deforestation.
  • These coastal ecosystems also provide critical ecosystem services, such as disaster risk reduction, water filtration and fisheries habitat.

Blue carbon ecosystems therefore provide both emissions reduction and climate change adaptation benefits.

This growing recognition of the value and importance of coastal blue carbon ecosystems has motivated a range of activities to better manage blue carbon resources, including in the context of REDD+, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), voluntary carbon markets, and post-2020 Intended National Determined Contributions.

Some countries have also commenced work towards including coastal blue carbon ecosystems in their national greenhouse gas inventory through implementation of the IPCC supplementary guidance on wetlands. Support for science in blue carbon ecosystems is also growing.

The International Partnership for Blue Carbon seeks to scale up and amplify such efforts.

The founding members of the International Partnership for Blue Carbon are:

  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • Costa Rica
  • the Blue Carbon Initiative (Conservation International, IUCN, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission – UNESCO)
  • GRID-Arendal
  • the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP)
  • the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Office of the Pacific Oceanscape Commissioner
  • the Centre for International Forestry Research; and
  • the Global Change Institute.

The founding members of the International Partnership for Blue Carbon will develop a roadmap to guide their work, and work to bring in new members.