11 months ago

Climate Action 2010-2011

Ecosystem based

Ecosystem based adaptation The case of Niger is no different from other parts of the Sahel; wetlands and other ecosystems are critical resources in times of climate change. To prepare our farmlands for the future’s climate, we first need to preserve our wetlands. Protecting the coast Coral reefs are among the ecosystems most threatened by climate change. Already, 70 per cent of coral reefs are threatened or destroyed in the seas and oceans around the world. However, well managed and more resilient coral reefs can also be a major contributor to adaptation and human well-being in the face of climate change. Coral reefs provide food, storm protection, jobs, recreation and other income sources for more than 500 million people worldwide with an average annual value estimated at US$172 billion. In many island communities, such as San Andres in Colombia’s Caribbean, the local economy relies almost entirely on coastal tourism and mangrove and reef-based fisheries. The 65,000km 2 Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the San Andres islands is Colombia’s first and largest such area and protects the Caribbean’s most extensive open-ocean coral reefs. However, climate change now threatens the ecosystems the MPA was designed to protect, in turn threatening the very survival of the community that both manages and depends on it. The way we treat our natural assets today will determine how well we will withstand the changing climate of tomorrow. In response to these challenges, the community put into practice ecosystem-based adaptation as the most viable and cost-effective option. The approach relies on recovering and maintaining ‘natural infrastructure’ such as coral reefs and mangroves – which provide increasingly important protection from storms and flooding – rather than on engineering and costly human-made infrastructure like sea walls, jetties and levees, which many developing nations simply cannot afford. For instance, the government of the nearby Caribbean island nation of Jamaica estimated that protecting the coastline from a sea-level rise of one metre would cost up to US$426 million, or nearly one-fifth of its GDP. Meanwhile, a recent study in the Maldives found that coral reefs provide coastal protection services worth between US$1.6 – 2.7 billion if they were to be replaced by seawalls, breakwater and other human-made structures. At a fraction of the cost, ecosystem-based adaptation will provide benefits beyond protecting the coast, by sustaining productive fisheries, maintaining beaches and the translucent coastal waters that draw tourists, and reducing pollution all at the same time. Proper | 156 | management of the Seaflower MPA will keep coastal and marine ecosystems healthy and biodiversity high, while allowing the community to better control and cope with impacts of the changing climate. A natural response to climate change Many adaptation initiatives have focused on costly human-made infrastructure and technologies to build climate resilience, ignoring natural responses to climate change, which are often cheaper and more sustainable than ‘quick-fix’ technological solutions. Conserving ecosystems can moderate the impacts of climate change and help build resilience in both ecosystems and communities to the impacts of climate change. Conversely, as biodiversity and habitats decline, so does the resilience of entire ecosystems and thus many of the services they provide to humanity. The way we treat our natural assets today will determine how well we will withstand the changing climate of tomorrow. Ecosystem-based adaptation helps us move from short-term coping tactics to deal with current climate variability to develop long-term strategies necessary to address future climate change. Julia Marton-Lef èvre is Director-General of IUCN. Prior to this position, she was Rector of the University for Peace, Executive Director of LEAD International and Executive Director of The International Council for Science. She is a member of several boards in the fields of environment, development, science and international co-operation. In 2008, she was made ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur’ by the French government and named Global Am bassador for Hungarian culture. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in the UK and of the World Academy of Art and Science. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation with more than 1,000 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environmental and development challenges. It works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world and by bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. Rue Mauverney 28 Gland 1196 Switzerland Tel: +41 22 999 0295 Fax: +41 22 999 0029 Email: Website:

SPECIAL FEATURE | Heiploeg Group Sustainable fishery Spreading the environmental message The Heiploeg Group is Europe’s largest shrimp processor. Their mission is to ‘grow the market for shrimp by excelling at customer satisfaction, innovation and sustainability’. In the drive towards securing sustainable seafood, the group has actively supported and invested in the shrimp standard of Global Gap and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) route for brown shrimp and the Atlantic seabob shrimp. Heiploeg has extensive Atlantic seabob shrimp fishing and processing operations in Suriname and Guyana. With two shrimp fishing fleets at sea in South America, Heiploeg is determined to see the introduction of sustainable fishing practices in the region. The company has therefore worked alongside scientists, the WWF, the governments of Suriname and Guyana and other shrimp fishermen, in order to implement MSC protocols. The Suriname Atlantic seabob is currently under MSC assessment thanks to these endeavours. Sustainable fishing practices: an important step forward These developments in sustainable fishing demonstrate that governments in developing countries, even when hampered by limited resources, understand the need for ecological measures in order to preserve and develop key areas of the economy. Shrimp fishing is the fourth largest source of exports in both Suriname and Guyana. However, enforcing measures to keep the stock in good condition may involve reduction in catching effort and total catch. This results in lower income levels for fishermen and processors in the short term. Consumers and retailers in the key markets need to be educated about the importance – and the consequent costs incurred – of genuinely sustainable shrimp fishing. Heiploeg has chosen a strategy of vigorously marketing the Atlantic seabob as a sustainable shrimp. The company can therefore recuperate some of the investments and higher costs of fishing by adopting premium pricing strategy in the market. Fortunately, the seabob is a delicious shrimp: chefs love to use it in salads or cooked dishes, appreciating its bite and flavour. In America, the seabob is at the heart of the much-loved, breaded ‘popcorn shrimp’. It means Heiploeg is able to appeal not only to the social consciences of customers but also their taste buds, highlighting the superior flavour and ‘the taste of the ocean’ you can get from a seabob shrimp. In this way, Heiploeg has recognised that the ‘green agenda’ and corporate social responsibility is the most effective form of marketing in these times. And the company intends to go further than sustainable shrimp fishing: improved terms allow Heiploeg to enhance working conditions, health and safety, fisherman and worker pay, management development for their fleets and plants in Guyana and Suriname. These investments will be strong evidence for retailers, analysts, investors and consumers that Heiploeg is striving to be an ethical corporate citizen, not only in Europe but also in South America and elsewhere in the world. For the fishermen of Guyana and Suriname, this year’s COP will be in close proximity. There is much to feel positive about. Concrete and measureable improvements are being made by these countries to sustain the marine resources upon which they are dependent. Their fishermen work according to a code of conduct which means attaching Turtle Escape and By-catch reduction devices to their nets. They are trained in the protocols for endangered and vulnerable species, as well as improved waste management. Government and WWF observations in Suriname last year indicated that no turtles were accidentally caught during seabob fishing. The By-catch reduction devices have resulted in 34 per cent less by-catch being caught by the Seabob fleet. Clear fishing limits have been agreed by the government with all the fleet owners and processors and tracking technology has been fitted into all the boats at sea in order to ensure that the fleets fish only in the agreed areas. It is Heiploeg’s firm intention to pass on this conservation ethos to the next generation by spreading the environmental message of sustainable fishing. PO Box 2, 9974 ZG Zoutkamp The Netherlands Tel: +31 (0)595 405 555 Fax: +31 (0)595 402 354 Email: Website: | 157 |