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World Needs Nature-Based Solutions to Ecosystem Harm

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The African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Italian government hosted an event at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro on 19 June.

Since the Rio 1992 Earth Summit, a lot of progress has been made in socio-economic development.  But the world has also witness a harmful rise in biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Much of the blame can be attached to the use of outdated economic models.

Poor governance and the flouting of international accords on sustainable development and of various environmental agreements have also played their part in jeopardizing sustainable development.  

Biological diversity and ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands are essential for human well-being.  Increasingly, people understand and recognize that biodiversity and ecosystem services are the basis for societies’ natural capital.

IUCN works partners on projects that put nature at the centre of strategies and action plans to improve the quality of life using a people-centered approach and a fair distribution of resources.

Panelists at the event were asked to showcase field experiences in nature-based solutions enabled by efficient governance. The goal was to discuss strategies for scaling up success models and featuring suitable investments, good governance in the use of natural resources and the empowerment of stakeholders.

Abdirahman Beileh, director of the AfDB’s Agro-Industry Department related his institution’s leadership and coordinating role within the donor community, which is complemented by access to trust funds and lending resources.

He said that the AfDB can help to introduce biodiversity within national agendas as a critical part of sustainable development.  “For instance, the Bank is working together with partners such as COMIFAC to conserve biodiversity in fragile, protected areas of the Congo Basin which is home to several vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species,” said Mr Beileh.

The IUCN’s president, Ashok Khosia, discussed the need to restore production capacity on land not currently being used, but to do so responsibly and sustainably.

Climate change and global warming will lead to decreased water availability, especially in arid and semi-arid lands. Water shortages affect agricultural productivity, food security and human health.

This expansion of agriculture can result in subsequent habitat loss and fragmentation, drainage of wetlands, and impacts on freshwater and marine ecosystem.

Christian Friis, the Danish minister of development cooperation attributed many of these existing challenges to lack of accountability structure. He stressed the importance of including scientists, experts and civil society representatives in the creation and implementation of nature-based solutions.  This would help to ensure the inclusion of accountability measures in any process.

Thus, there is a reinforced need for continued and increased investment in knowledge creation and sharing, awareness-raising and good governance for the effective conservation of biodiversity.

By applying proven conservation methods and testing new approaches to make the natural systems more resilient to climate change, “ecosystem-based adaptation” can help improve livelihoods by providing food, water and safety for people in the face of climate change threats.

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