‘A critical window’: Egypt pushes for collective action on nature-based solutions at COP27

The Presidency has stated that scientists assessing the nature and climate crises have repeatedly concluded that “this decade represents a critical window for tackling interdependent biodiversity, land degradation and climate crises”

To that end, it has launched a new initiative, in partnership with NGO the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN), to drive collective action on nature-based climate solutions from governments and non-state actors this decade. It is called ‘Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for Climate Transformation’ or ‘ENACT’ for short.

ENACT’s overarching commitment is to ensure that sustainable management practices are implemented on an additional two billion hectares of ecosystems this decade; that 250 million hectares of ecosystems are restored and that conservation processes are enhanced on a further 45 million hectares.

Meeting these aims, the COP27 Presidency has stated, should improve climate resilience for at least one billion vulnerable people – provided that action is scaled in the appropriate regions. This ties in with the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda launched last week, which has a headline commitment to improve the climate resiliency of infrastructure and service systems for four billion people by 2030. The Presidency claims that nature-based solutions can reduce the intensity of climate-related hazards by up to 26%.

The Presidency is also touting scaling nature-based solutions as a major opportunity to increase carbon sequestration and to create skilled jobs in nature.

Leveraging more finance for nature-based solutions, from public and private coffers, is key to achieving the ENACT aims. Planned public spending on nature conservation and restoration in the UK alone, between 2022 and 2032, is estimated to be up to £97bn short of what is needed. Globally, the gap could be more than $850bn by 2030, according to the Green Purposes Company.

Egypt and the ICUN are looking to select 10 to 12 actors – a mix of national governments and non-state actors – to form an advisory group for ENACT. It is also in the process of choosing partners to lead specific workstreams.

The launch of ENACT comes just weeks before nations are due to meet in Montreal for what should be the last round of talks for biodiversity COP15. The summit should culminate in the agreement of a new Global Biodiversity Framework, covering 2020 to 2030, to replace the Aichi goals that went undelivered. The Framework is being described as a ‘Paris-style’ deal for nature and a key inclusion is a pledge for nations to protect 30% of land and sea for nature this decade.

The COP27 Presidency has described ENACT as “an enabler and accelerator of progress” towards agreeing on – and delivering – global ambitions such as the new Global Biodiversity Framework.

Keep your cool

Also launching today is the Nature for Cool Cities Pledge, overseen by the Cool Coalition – a collaboration between NGOs and academics on a mission to ensure that, as cooling needs grow across the globe, sustainable cooling solutions are scaled up appropriately and implemented equitably.

The new Pledge will convene cities in developing and emerging economies, supporting them to implement nature-based solutions for cooling with new funding and technical expertise. The participating cities will need to demonstrate “tangible” progress by 2025 and additional progress through to 2030. They will need to set time-bound, numerical targets.

Cities are often covered primarily by pavement and concrete, which contributes to an ‘urban heat island effect’ – they will warm more intensely than the rest of the region/state/country they are in. Using nature-based solutions such as trees and green spaces can help to combat this.

You can read more on how nature-based solutions can help cities adapt to a warming world, using Athens as a case study, in our recent guest blog from WSP’s net-zero cities team leader Dr Katherine Maxwell.

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