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- 09/29/17--11:24: _ADVISORY: WRI Honor...
- 10/24/19--10:18: _Delay and Pay or Pl...
- 11/07/19--10:06: _Uganda’s Coffee Far...
- 12/02/19--12:31: _NDC Enhancement: Op...
- 12/02/19--12:40: _Enhancing NDCs: Opp...
- 12/02/19--13:32: _Enhancing NDCs: Opp...
- 12/05/19--11:56: _4 Ways Farmers Can ...
- 12/10/19--14:47: _Climate Change Pose...
- 12/12/19--09:41: _How to Prevent City...
- 01/06/20--08:12: _Faced with Forced R...
- Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation (honoree)
- Feike Sijbesma, Chairman and CEO, Royal DSM (honoree)
- President Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico; Honorary Chair, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate; and WRI Board Director (featured speaker)
- Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and WRI Board Director (featured speaker)
- Tony West, General Counsel, PepsiCo and Former Associate Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice (featured speaker)
- Afsaneh M. Beschloss, Founder and CEO, The Rock Creek Group and WRI Board Director (co-chair)
- James A. Harmon, Chairman, Caravel Management LLC and Chairman, WRI Board of Directors (co-chair)
- Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder, Related Companies and WRI Board Director (co-chair)
- Andrew Steer, President & CEO, WRI
- Media Relations Manager
- Media Specialist
- Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, Advisor, Global Commission on Adaptation; Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability (Former Dean) and School of Public Health, University of Michigan; Roy Weston Chair of Natural Economics, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
- Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President & Managing Director, World Resources Institute
- Christina Chan, Co-Director, Global Commission on Adaptation; Director, Climate Resilience Practice, World Resources Institute
- Leo Martinez-Diaz, Global Director, Sustainable Finance Center, World Resources Institute
- 12/02/19--12:31: NDC Enhancement: Opportunities in the Forest and Land-use Sector
There are significant cost-effective emission reduction opportunities in forest conservation, restoration and improved management.
Forest conservation offers large mitigation potential with low costs. Countries can implement policies such as designating protected areas, establishing land tenure for indigenous people or local communities, strengthened forest monitoring and improved law enforcement, or developing REDD+ implementation capacity to conserve forests. Conserving primary forests is especially beneficial, not only for the high climate change mitigation potential, but also for adaptation and sustainable development because of the rich ecosystem services they provide. For example, mangroves and peatland forests are very carbon rich forests and can store more carbon per area than upland forests. Nonetheless, these forests are often given less attention and consequently are often missing in NDCs. Expanding the scope of forest sector targets and policies to mangroves and peatlands, if a country has not done so, can be a key opportunity for enhancement in the sector.
Reforestation and afforestation also have large mitigation potential, offering significant carbon removal opportunities. Where land-use demand for food production is high and conversion of lands to forest is not feasible, agroforestry and silvo-pastoral systems may provide alternative mitigation opportunities. Carbon stock potentials of trees in croplands and grazing lands are substantial, and they also provide additional adaptation and development benefits locally. Jurisdictional sustainability certification of forest products and agricultural commodities or reformation of subsidy policies can help countries create deforestation-free supply chains.
By ramping up those forest-based solutions in combination, countries will find opportunities for further emissions reductions in the NDCs while creating adaptation and development benefits.
- 12/02/19--12:40: Enhancing NDCs: Opportunities in the Power Sector
- Taking stock and building on recent developments allows to identify meaningful, novel ways that countries can use to enhance their NDCS in ways that seemed improbable just five years ago.
- The 2020 process of enhancing NDCs offers an opportunity for countries to examine the ambition of the initial NDCs, and identify how they can fill gaps at a country level.
- Beyond increasing RE targets, reflecting power sector mitigation potential in the NDCs now depends on the implementation of four foundational strategies for enhanced grid flexibility, addressing existing coal assets, institutional changes, and tapping synergies between the power and end-use sectors.
- These foundational elements are common requirements for all power systems, and can be tailored for each country based on its circumstances and capabilities.
- Power sector GHG mitigation information can be integrated into the economy-wide targets or presented as separate sector targets and/or policies.
- 12/02/19--13:32: Enhancing NDCs: Opportunities in Transport
Accelerate electrification while continuing to advance fuel economy. Most current NDCs do not adequately address transport electrification, yet it is key for long-term decarbonization goals. Improving fuel efficiency offers near-term gains. Advances in technology and policy enable electric vehicles to improve the efficiency and reduce emissions from the grid through targeted vehicle–grid integration. Countries should adopt policies and programs including zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates and incentives, supporting the transition of all modes to zero emission vehicle, investing in smart charging infrastructure, and policy and regulatory development to maximize the environmental, economic, social, and operational benefits of electric mobility for the transport and energy sectors.
Amplify avoid and shift solutions, such as land use and mobility planning, public transport, cycling, and walking. Only one-third of the current NDCs that address transport acknowledge policies to avoid unnecessary travel and shift to or retain low-carbon modes such as public transport, cycling, and walking. This requires immediate, medium, and long-term solutions in land use and planning to induce shorter trips or foster more compact development while increasing the quantity and quality of public transport, walking and cycling. We suggest action areas that include measures such as eliminating fuel subsidies, adopting national urban growth and transport master planning, investing in infrastructure prioritizing sustainable mobility such as high-quality public transport, and encouraging the retention or growth of safe cycling and walking in cities.
Address freight emissions by leveraging new clean fuels and information technology. Freight is only lightly addressed in the current NDCs – although it accounts for around 40 percent of transport emissions, it appears in only 21 percent of the NDCs that address transport (SLoCaT 2018). However, a variety of emerging policy options address this subsector. For example, electric freight vehicles are becoming a feasible option—in 2019, Amazon ordered over 100,000 electric trucks—whereas in the last round of NDCs the technology was much less advanced. Countries should include freight in their move toward electrification and should also take advantage of Avoid and Shift policies, for example, by using information technology to improve logistics and operational efficiency and by shifting road freight to rail where possible.
- 12/05/19--11:56: 4 Ways Farmers Can Adapt to Climate Change and Generate Income
- LEARN MORE: Read the research paper from the Global Commission on Adaptation, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience
Dinner in New York City recognizes innovative leaders of Ford Foundation and Royal DSM; featured speakers President Felipe Calderón, Christiana Figueres and Tony West
WASHINGTON (September 29)—World Resources Institute (WRI) is celebrating 35 years of impact at its biennial Courage to Lead dinner honoring Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation, and Feike Sijbesma, Chairman and CEO, Royal DSM, on Thursday, October 12 at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York City. President Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico, Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and one of the vital players in the creation of the Paris Agreement, and Tony West, General Counsel of PepsiCo and former U.S. Associate Attorney General, are featured speakers.
Co-chairs for the event are Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder, Related Companies; Afsaneh M. Beschloss, Founder and CEO, The Rock Creek Group; and James A. Harmon, Chairman, Caravel Management LLC. Andrew Steer, WRI President & CEO, will highlight the transformative solutions the honorees have pioneered to protect the planet and improve people’s lives.
Ford Foundation is one of the world’s leading philanthropies. Under Darren Walker, Ford is putting all its tools to work, including $1 billion from its endowment over the next 10 years toward Mission-Related Investments, including the drivers of inequality. This bold move seeks to spur more foundations to do the same and help the capital markets become accelerators of justice and fairness.
Royal DSM, originally a state-owned coal company, is a Dutch multinational corporation now active in the fields of health, nutrition and materials. Royal DSM ranks #2 on Fortune’s annual Change the World list and its Chairman and CEO Feike Sijbesma is a global leader on climate action and malnutrition. Mr. Sijbesma is Climate Leader for the World Bank and co-chairs the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. In addition, he co-leads the CEO Climate Alliance of the World Economic Forum of over 60 companies catalyzing corporate action to reduce GHG emissions and help drive the global transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy.
WRI’s Courage to Lead events honor leaders and organizations that share WRI’s dedication to tackling today’s urgent global environment and economic development challenges. The dinner will raise funds to advance WRI’s mission of turning big ideas into action on climate change, energy, food, forests, water and sustainable cities.
There will be a photo opportunity at the event.
All media must RSVP to email@example.com
WRI’s Courage to Lead 35th Anniversary Dinner
Thursday, October 12, 2017
6:30 – 9:30 p.m. EDT
New York, NY 10004
All media must RSVP ahead of time to Ally Friedman, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 279-7719
Join experts from WRI and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) at this briefing on the Global Commission on Adaptation’s Flagship Report and Year of Action for climate adaptation.
Join the conversation:#AdaptOurWorld
The Global Commission on Adaptation seeks to accelerate adaptation action and increase political support for building climate resilience.
In September 2019, the Commission launched its flagship report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, which outlines a roadmap for scaling-up climate adaptation in the United States and abroad to safeguard communities and economies from the impacts of climate change. In particular, the report emphasizes the investment potential of adaptation. The report also kickstarts a Year of Action to accelerate adaptation around the world.
At this briefing, Commission experts will highlight key elements of the report and share how federal legislators can engage with the Year of Action for climate adaptation.
The Commission is chaired by Former U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, seeks to accelerate adaptation action by elevating its political visibility and focusing on concrete solutions.
Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20515
Uganda’s Coffee Farmers Show There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Climate Change Adaptation
Rainy season arrives at the same time in the lowlands of central Uganda and the country’s eastern highlands. Both regions grow coffee. And coffee farmers in both locations worry about how their crops and finances will fare in a warmer world.
Look beyond these similarities, however, and you’ll see that these regions are environmentally, socially and economically diverse. They experience different climate risks, and farmers in each region differ in their ability and approaches to adapt to them.
The experience of Ugandan coffee farmers underscores one of the greatest challenges for climate adaptation: There is no one-size-fits-all solution — even within the same industry, in the same country. What works is something rooted in the realities of the farms and farmers themselves: locally led adaptation.
A coffee farmer in Kamuli, in the eastern part of Uganda. Photo by Bread for the World/Flickr
How Climate Change Affects Coffee Farming in Uganda
Climate change is already threatening coffee plants worldwide, and those threats are projected to grow. Coffee is a major crop in Uganda, employing about 1.7 million smallholder farmers. The country is unique in that it grows the world’s two major commercial coffee species, Robusta and Arabica. Rainfall-sensitive Robusta grows in the lowland regions. Arabica, highly sensitive to temperature, grows in the highlands.
Farmers of either species depend on the coffee for their entire livelihood, says Makerere University climate scientist Catherine Mulinde. Her research focuses on climate risks and drivers of adaptation in Uganda. “We want to understand which adaptation technologies will be able to work, within a particular altitudinal gradient and with particular farmer characteristics,” she said.
Because climate risks can be highly localized, understanding these nuances is crucial to effective adaptation.
Adaptation technologies can be everything from fertilizer to intercropping practices. Climate, geography and socioeconomics all play a role in how effective technology can be. For example: Coffee farmers in the highlands struggle with poor soil. Fertilizer and hardier crop species are potential adaptation technologies. Yet access is limited. Highland roads flood often, physically preventing farmers from accessing fertilizer or seeds.
Mulinde’s research found that adaptation drivers — what pushes farmers to implement new technologies or respond to climate risks — depend on qualities you might expect, like rainfall, and others you might not. Household size, whether the household decision-maker is a woman, and whether bananas or maize (or bananas and maize) are grown alongside coffee all affect farmers’ ability to adapt.
When adaptation is affected by such a myriad of factors, implementing solutions and planning at scale is challenging.
Coffee plant in Mbale, Uganda. Photo by Lauren Parnell Marino/Flickr
Leveraging Ugandan Coffee Farmers’ Knowledge for Climate Adaptation
Challenging, but not impossible. Mulinde’s research offers recommendations for scaling adaptation successes: namely, local communities must be in the driver’s seat designing and implementing solutions.
“The farmers themselves are not sleeping and waiting for help,” Mulinde said. They are adapting to climate shocks, and are already rich with lived experiences about their land and community. “What we need to do is upscale their knowledge.”
To cope with mounting crop losses, coffee farmers in eastern Uganda are relying on off-farm work to generate income, while farmers in central Uganda are changing the varieties of crops they grow alongside coffee. To cope with soil moisture loss and constant weeds, farmers in central Uganda are using herbicides. Eastern farmers coping with soil erosion, meanwhile, are increasingly using practices like terracing to adapt.
Locally Led Climate Adaptation
When local actors lead, it ensures projects leverage existing knowledge and are culturally and environmentally appropriate, and therefore more likely to be successful and sustainable.
Mulinde’s research found that when coffee farmers were connected to social groups like farming cooperatives, they were more likely to implement certain beneficial adaptation solutions, such as using fertilizer. Collective power channeled through local organizations has also helped coffee farmers manage climate change in Costa Rica. Strengthening local organizations — and connecting them to planning and policy networks — is one way to scale adaptation.
Locally led adaptation is a focus area of the Global Commission on Adaptation. Managed by WRI and the Global Center on Adaptation, the Commission works to accelerate adaptation action and increase political support for climate resilience. The Commission’s Locally Led Action Track aims to empower and scale up planning, implementation and learning from locally led adaptation. The Commission will work to expand the quality and quantity of financial resources available to those working at the local level — including community-based organizations and local governments.
Building Climate Resilience in Uganda’s Coffee Industry Depends on Adaptation at All Levels
Uganda is Africa’s biggest coffee exporter, and the country has plans to increase its coffee production. With increasing climate uncertainty putting the long-term survival of Robusta and Arabica at risk, it’s crucial to work with farmers and farming communities to find solutions.
Mulinde believes it can be done. “There is so much hope for adaptation, but it has to be teamwork—right from the household up to the national level,” she said. “Beyond the national level up to the regional level. And up to the global level.”
LEARN MORE: Read the Global Commission on Adaptation’s research paper, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience
This guide supplements, as a sector module, the overarching guide, Enhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate Plans by 2020 (Fransen et al. 2019), and will assist countries in enhancing their NDCs with clearer and more tangible forest and land-use sector contents.Forest AtlasesClimateForestsCreative CommonsEnhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate PlansRecommendations For Accounting for Mitigation Components of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Under the Paris AgreementPublic-Sector Measures to Conserve and Restore Forests: Overcoming Economic and Political Economy Barriers
Conservation, restoration, and improved management of forests are cost-effective solutions for large-scale reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removal of carbon from the atmosphere and thus help to hold the global temperature increase to well below 2.0°C or 1.5°C above preindustrial...
This guidance aims to help countries incorporate more ambitious, relevant, and tangible power solutions into enhanced NDCs for communication to the UNFCCC by 2020.ClimateEnergyCreative CommonsEnhancing NDCs: A Guide to Strengthening National Climate PlansA Tool for Designing Policies to Achieve India’s Climate TargetsOpportunities to Advance Mitigation Ambition in China: Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas EmissionsTracking Progress of the 2020 Climate Turning Point
Limiting global warming to 2 or 1.5°C requires a virtually decarbonized power sector by 2050.The world is not on track to achieve this. In 2018, while renewable energy (RE) generated ¼ of global power, coal produced 38%, and remained the largest source of electricity generation, producing 30% of...
This paper discusses steps countries can take to incorporate ambitious, relevant, and tangible transportation solutions into enhanced NDCs for communication to UNFCCC by 2020.ClimateCreative CommonsHow to Enable Electric Bus Adoption in Cities WorldwideEnhancing NDCs: Opportunities in the Power SectorLeading on Ambition: Opportunities for the Enhancement of Nationally Determined Contributions by Climate Vulnerable ForumCan Transport Deliver GHG Reductions at Scale? An Analysis of Global Transport InitiativesTracking Progress of the 2020 Climate Turning Point
Limiting warming in line with the Paris Agreement goals requires deep cuts in transport emissions, even as demand for transport continues to grow. Yet under business as usual, emissions are projected to double. Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – countries’ plans to address climate...
We identify three key opportunities to enhance NDCs via the transport sector:
4 Ways Farmers Can Adapt to Climate Change and Generate Income
Climate change poses a real threat to farmers around the world. Agriculture is highly dependent on good weather, including high and low temperatures, rainfall, wind intensity, and many other variables. Estimates show that climate change might reduce global agriculture productivity by 17% by 2050.
For countries highly dependent on agricultural exports, like Brazil, this poses a real problem. Research shows that climate change-driven changes in rainfall patterns could severely reduce the harvest of healthy soybeans, one of Brazil's biggest export commodities. Studies show that temperature increases could reduce by 95% the area suitable for producing coffee, an important export commodity, in three Brazilian states.
The good news is that farmers can adapt. A new working paper published by WRI Brasil, GIZ and the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forest, and Agriculture, with the contribution of several experts and scientists, presents evidence and proposes solutions for reducing climate change risks to farmlands. These include policies already in place in Brazil that are still relatively unknown, but that could be expanded in Brazil, or replicated in other countries.
Here is a selection of four sustainable ways farmers can produce more food and adapt to climate change at the same time.
1. Integrate Cop-Livestock-Forestry Systems
A system combining corn and paricá, an Amazon native tree species. Alan Batista/WRI Brasil
The more diverse an agricultural system, the greater its ability on average to adapt to climate change.
Instead of focusing the farm on one kind of production (crops or livestock or forestry), integrated systems combine them into one of four combinations: crops and livestock; crops and forestry; livestock and forestry; or crops, livestock and forestry.
How does this work? According to the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, integrated systems can produce food, energy, fiber, timber and non-timber forest products in the same area, at the same time or in rotation.
Integrated systems can also provide adaptation benefits. Our research showed integrated systems can make farms more resilient for every component analyzed: they can improve the local micro-climate by reducing local temperature and increasing precipitation and water availability; reduce the impact of extreme weather events on crops, livestock and other products; reduce soil erosion; improve productivity; and provide additional socioeconomic benefits by increasing the number of products farmers can produce for subsistence or to sell.
For example, INOCAS is integrating pastures with forestry in Brazil. The company plants native palm trees in pastures to improve soil quality and create shade for the pasture's animals. The trees also produce vegetable oil. This integrated system improves the land, makes livestock better able to handle high temperatures, and provides new sources of income.
2. Rehabilitate Degraded Pastures
A farm where the pasture was reabilitated by Fazenda Ecologica using rotation and trees in the Minas Gerais countryside. Photo by Daniel Hunter/WRI Brasil
Pasture degradation is a major problem on Brazilian farms. Degraded lands are prone to erosion and so retain less water, have less nutritious grass for feeding animals and contribute to low-productivity livestock production.
There are several different ways to rehabilitate degraded pastures. The most conventional way involves applying fertilizers --- but this is not always sustainable for farmers, as pastures usually require new fertilizer applications every four or five years. Degraded pasture can be more sustainably recovered by planting native forage or grass, or by introducing trees in the pasture to avoid soil erosion.
Rehabilitation of pasture can contribute to new, more sustainable ways of raising animals, as demonstrated by the work of Fazenda Ecológica. This combines grazing with trees to improve the health of the soil and the wellbeing of the animals while mitigating carbon emissions.
Rehabilitation of degraded pastures also provides climate adaptation benefits, including reduced local temperatures, increased air humidity, better resistance against heatwaves and drought and more resilience against natural disasters. It also has a positive effect on soil erosion and water availability.
3. Plant Agroforestry Systems
A two-year agroforestry system after the harvest of bananas on a farm in Paraiba Valley, Sao Paulo. Photo by Bruno Calixto/WRI Brasil
Agroforestry integrates trees and crops in an intentionally designed system. In an agroforestry system, every plant is selected for a particular purpose -- species are selected so that plants will not compete but collaborate. This diversity of crops and trees allows the area to be productive all year long, so that small farmers can earn income in all seasons.
Cocoa is one commodity that benefits from agroforestry. Cocoa plants can grow better and be even more resilient under the shade of other trees. In Peru, a public-private partnership seeks to support 20,000 farmers who produce organic and/or high-quality cocoa in agroforestry systems on 58,000 hectares (about 143,000 acres).
Agroforestry systems are an important tool for climate change adaptation in agriculture. The working paper finds that agroforestry produces adaptation benefits for local climate, including reducing the impact of five types of extreme weather events evaluated by the study (drought, heatwaves, cold waves, heavy rain and floods), improving soil and water availability, attracting pollinators and improving biodiversity.
4. Pursue Sustainable Forestry
Seedlings for restoration with native species that have economic value in the south of Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Rachel Biderman/WRI Brasil
Trees planted sustainably offer environmental benefits---such as capturing greenhouse gases and protecting the soil---as well as the potential for economic gain through the commercialization of timber and non-timber forest products. A WRI report in 2018 highlighted fourteen companies that are investing in the business of planting trees.
Aside from being a good investment, sustainable forestry provides positive adaptation effects in almost every factor, with an important exception: the risk of forest fires could be increased. Densely planted trees and flammable species such as eucalyptus can cause fires to quickly spread.
Restoration and reforestation can be important tools for Brazilian farmers. The Brazilian Forest Code states that a portion of all rural properties must be covered with natural vegetation. Estimates indicate that 21 million hectares of Brazilian forest (51 million acres) are degraded or deforested and need to be restored. Part of this is in sensitive areas, where plantations are not allowed, but an important portion could be planted with sustainable forests to provide economic and environmental benefits. Planting native species for timber or other purposes could become an important source of income for farmers, while helping rural lands and production adapt to climate change.
Lessons for Brazil and the World
Practices like those described above provide a possible path for farmers around the world move to more resilient, low-carbon agriculture, so they can more sustainably produce enough food to feed the world while restoring the land. In a world where the impacts of climate change are already arriving, it is crucial to protect farms and farmers by finding a more resilient and sustainable model for agribusiness.
These examples of sustainable farming and land management practices are already included in two important Brazilian policies: The Low Carbon Agriculture Plan, known as Plano ABC, and the National Plan for Recovery Native Vegetation, known as Planaveg. Given the climate and economic benefits outlined above, financing for the agricultural models proposed by these plans should be expanded in Brazil.
Adapting farms for climate change is good policy not only for the environment but also the economy, financial institutions and insurance companies. Reducing risk from extreme weather events is crucial for financial institutions dealing with agribusiness credit and insurance companies, reducing risk losses and improving loan repayment.
Models like agroforestry and sustainable forestry plantations show a possible path for farmers around the world move to low-carbon agriculture and a more resilient agriculture, producing the necessary food to feed the world while restoring the land. In a world where the impacts of climate change are not just imminent but arriving, it is crucial to protect farms and farmers by finding a more resilient and sustainable model for agribusiness.
Climate Change Poses an Existential Risk to Ocean Industries. Here’s How They Can Respond.
Never before has the urgency of climate action for ocean health been more pronounced. In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, finding that climate-induced declines in ocean health will cost the annual global economy $428 billion by 2050 and $1.98 trillion by 2100.
Now, building on this analysis, a new paper commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy unpacks what these economic losses are at the country and regional level across three of the ocean-based industries – coral reef tourism, wild fisheries and mariculture (the cultivation of marine life for food).
The results are sobering. Changes to the ocean’s temperature, chemistry, flow and food webs have broad implications for our global economy. While some countries are set to maintain or improve catch and profits, billions of others around the world who rely on healthy oceans will see decreases in fish, food and prosperity. West Africa could see fish stocks decline by up to 85% due to migration to cooler waters. The North and South Atlantic, North and South Pacific, and Indian Ocean basins will see fish stocks decline by up to 30% by 2100 as fish migrate to Polar Arctic and Southern Ocean basins.
Coral reef tourism, worth $35.8 billion globally every year, could experience revenue losses of over 90% based on the current trajectory of warming.
However, if we act now, we have a path to reinforce the resilience of these ocean ecosystems and the industries that rely on them.
First and foremost, we must urgently reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from both land and ocean sources. A recent analysis commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy found that ocean-based climate action could deliver up to 21% of the emissions reductions needed by 2050 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C – demonstrating that the ocean can be a powerful part of the climate solution.
But for the impacts which are now unavoidable, decisionmakers must change the way they manage their marine resources.
1. Cooperate Across Boundaries for Wild Capture Fisheries
Wild capture fisheries produce approximately 79.3 million metric tons of fish, representing 46.4% of global seafood production and $130 billion in economic value. The industry employs 30.6 million people and operates 4.6 million fishing vessels. And for coastal communities and small island nations, small-scale fisheries are the backbone of their economies and their main source of protein.
As suitable habitats shift and change, marine species will move across jurisdictional boundaries. That will make it impossible to base management on historical benchmarks. As the climate changes, the fisheries sector will need to work to understand risks and anticipate changes and to make decisions aimed at improving ecosystem health. Regional, national, and international cooperative agreements will be necessary to ensure they are well-managed, and that the benefits are fairly distributed, during and after the transition.
In fact, our research finds under all climate scenarios that climate-adaptive fisheries management results in greater cumulative profits than business-as-usual management for 99% of countries. For many countries, catches can also be increased under certain scenarios. A constantly changing ocean requires management strategies and decisions to factor flexible, adaptive and precautionary approaches. As waters warm and acidify, fish stocks will migrate poleward, resulting in potential regional and international conflicts over shifting resources and exacerbated inequalities.
Historically, well-managed fisheries have been among the most resilient to climate change. Wider implementation of best practices in fisheries management will mitigate many of the negative impacts of climate change.
2. Expand Marine Aquaculture
Mariculture, or marine aquaculture, produces over 38.6 million metric tons of seafood worth $67.4 billion every year. This sector has great potential as a source of nutritional seafood in the future, not least in areas where fish stocks are forecast to decline.
Although climate change is expected to reduce the productivity of mariculture, the magnitude of this reduction is small relative to the sheer potential for production. For many countries, developing or expanding sustainable mariculture could help offset the negative efforts of climate change on their local fish stocks.
3. Diversify and Protect Reef-Based Economies
Ocean tourism has the potential to alleviate poverty, especially in coastal fishing and farming communities where poverty incidences are high. It can boost local and national economic development and improve local welfare. But even if tougher climate action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change stabilizes, coral cover is still expected to reduce by up to 28% resulting in global economic losses of up to 66%.
Diversifying tourism activities and investments will help maintain diverse ecosystem functions, while simultaneously capturing the tourism potential of various ecosystems. Ecotourism—tourism activities that support nature conservation and education—should be prioritized to prevent exacerbating the degradation of the environmental resource base that the tourism industry depends on.
Protecting mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses —which serve as nursery areas for coral reef fish species and trap sediment—will also serve to enhance reef health and productivity. Furthermore, reducing local threats on these interconnected habitats (such as sedimentation, nutrient pollution and overfishing) will improve the ability of coastal ecosystems to cope with warming and acidification.
Linking fisheries, aquaculture and tourism to local food and livelihood security will also improve the portfolio of policies that can be applied to reduce climate change’s impacts on local and national economies. Activities in the marine environment can also be strategically sited to reduce negative interactions and maintain healthy reefs.
An Equitable Way Forward
The steps taken to adapt these three sectors for coming climate impacts must consider the equity implications of all new and existing management decisions. Climate change will exacerbate global inequities, and inequity reduces resilience, thereby likely worsening outcomes under all climate change scenarios. Truly inclusive, representative, participatory decision-making processes are needed in all sectors to ensure procedural equity in all policy and management decisions.
How to Prevent City Climate Action from Becoming "Green Gentrification"
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 14 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, homes and possessions. But some people were hit harder than others. Nearly two-thirds of jobs lost after the hurricane were lost by women, and nearly 80 percent of the population of flooded neighborhoods were people of color.
Cities account for nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and many of them, like New Orleans, are experiencing more instances of extreme weather, heat, droughts and flooding due to climate change. Climate change negatively affects poor communities, women, people with disabilities, indigenous groups and other marginalized populations the most. That's why it's so important for cities tackling climate change to engage with these frontline communities in the designing of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
A new set of resources from WRI and C40 provides a roadmap for cities to assess equity in their climate action planning process— because urban climate action can help to address injustices inherent in climate change, but only if city governments put people at the center of their climate action planning process.
Green Gentrification and the Unintended Consequences of Climate Action
The Yellow Vests movement in France and protests in Chile against metro fare increases showed that national climate actions, when designed without a consideration for equity, can have unintended consequences. This can happen in cities, too.
Medellín's transformation from one of the Colombia's most violent cities to a vibrant and more sustainable metropolis — with more green spaces, cleaner transit and easier access to jobs — has not come without social costs. The city's El Cinturon Verde Metropolitano initiative was designed to increase the city's open space for recreation, and involved creating an extensive urban park or 'greenbelt' around the city boundaries and upgrading nearby housing.
While the initiative has generally improved public safety, health and food security in the city, it created trade-offs for local communities. When the city's primary trash dump was converted into gardens, more than 14,000 families were displaced from the area, many of whom were relocated to the outskirts of the city away from core services like health clinics and grocery stores. Local waste pickers lost their jobs, with little recourse. And many low-income residents remaining in the area around the greenbelt still worry about being displaced and losing access to the land that they cultivate and rely on for their livelihoods.
This has also happened in Brooklyn, New York. Various sustainability projects, including park cleanups, riverbank restorations, and the transformation of a toxic industrial canal into the "Venice of Brooklyn," have all sought to improve the quality of life and environmental health of communities in the densely populated borough. But these environmental improvements have helped fuel affordability challenges. Rental prices have increased disproportionately around Prospect Park, which underwent a $10 million restoration beginning in the 1980s. A recent geospatial analysis found that housing around community gardens in Brooklyn catered primarily to higher-income residents.
These kinds of unintended consequences are called "green gentrification"—when investments in sustainable infrastructure and initiatives in a city push out and price out lower-income residents. Unaddressed, these barriers can limit climate action and policies from reaching their full potential.
The Metrocable in Colombia. Phtoo by Philipp Alexander/Flickr
Avoiding Green Gentrification and Tackling Climate Change and Inequality Simultaneously
If designed well and with citizens and communities in mind, climate action can avoid green gentrification and can help address some of the pre-existing social and economic inequalities in cities. Despite facing some displacement challenges with its greenbelt project, Medellín used community engagement to identify and develop a more inclusive new transit service: the Metrocable.
In 2004, Medellín opened an aerial tram system known as Metrocable, which was the first in the world to be fully integrated into the city's broader urban transit system. This project grew from a new commitment by the city to invest in public services and community outreach, which was part of an overarching effort to improve the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the city and its residents. This new cable car line connected remote hillside neighborhoods to the center of the city, improving access to jobs, schools, cultural events and other opportunities for lower-income residents who might have otherwise been excluded from these opportunities and taken higher polluting cars and buses. The city now must ensure that areas around the Metrocable don't gentrify too fast, pushing out residents.
For a city beginning to think about climate action, the first step is to consider local context and priorities. For instance, if a city has a large portion of its residents living in informal housing in low-lying coastal areas, urban practitioners should consider how climate change will particularly impact these groups. Stronger storms could cause increased flooding and damage to already weak structures.
The key is to put people at the heart of planning and ask: Which groups or frontline communities in my city are impacted by climate change? When it comes to climate action, who has access and who does not? City planners must understand how access to services and policies differs amongst parts of the urban population in order to design policies to reach the maximum amount of people, and particularly those most in need.
When designed for all, climate actions can contribute many other benefits besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as improving health and well-being, increasing economic prosperity, and strengthening institutions and governance. By diagnosing the broad areas where the city is doing well — and not so well — city decision-makers can prioritize climate policies that target specific needs.
Cities like Cape Town and Los Angeles are already analyzing existing climate policies and implementing climate actions through an equity lens. Through this lens, urban decision-makers look at the benefits and challenges of potential climate actions for access and availability, prosperity, affordability and spatial inclusion. This lens can ultimately help city officials develop policy recommendations that have wider benefits for all. For example, when London introduced a congestion charging zone in the city center, it provided exemptions for people with disabilities, drivers of electric vehicles, and emergency services.
Lastly, all cities need to measure and track inclusion and equity impacts of climate actions. Disaggregated data by neighborhood, income, gender and other key indicators will inform city decision-makers whether policies are well-designed and if their impacts are equitably distributed. The indicators module provides guidance on this, and comes with a database based on existing practices from cities around the world. For example, Pittsburgh is already identifying key indicators (e.g. access to green space) and data it will need to collect to measure improvements in equity (e.g. ratio of access between black and white residents over time) to ensure that the city is creating the most impact with its climate actions.
The Roadmap to Inclusive Climate Action
The roadmap for inclusive climate action planning can help cities to identify communities that may be particularly impacted, both positively or negatively, by climate actions, and then design policies that reduce barriers groups face in participating in and benefiting from proposed climate actions. While each city must respond to local context, geography and culture, there are also significant opportunities to share learnings between cities on how to deliver inclusive and equitable climate action globally.
Begin your inclusive climate action journey *here.*
Faced with Forced Relocation, the People of One Philippine City Designed Their Own Climate-resilient Neighborhood
In Pasig City, Philippines, southeast of Manila, there's an apartment complex with whitewashed walls and colorful trim. It's an unassuming set of buildings, but a globally important one.
The Manggahan Low Rise Building Project is a climate-resilient building, meant to withstand the flooding and sea level rise becoming more common in this part of the world. It houses hundreds of families that would have been displaced by Typhoon Ondoy. And it offers hope to millions more.
Each year, about 21.5 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes due to weather-related events. This number is expected to grow considerably as climate change fuels more floods, droughts, wildfires and other extreme weather. The Manggahan project shows one way communities who are socially, economically and politically marginalized can actively participate in decisions about how they adapt — and remain in the neighborhoods they call home.
The aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy. Photo by AusAID/Flickr
Locally Led Climate Resilience in Manila
When Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines in 2009, 40,000 people were living in informal settlements, or slums, along the Manggahan Floodway, an artificially constructed waterway built to mitigate flood risk. The typhoon dumped one month’s worth of rain in the Manila metro area in fewer than 24 hours. Lives, property and possessions were lost.
After the devastation, the Philippine government decided to relocate those living in informal settlements out of the floodway — some to locations as far as 60 miles away from Manila, which meant leaving family, jobs and schools behind. Authorities threatened to demolish homes if people did not evacuate.
The Alliance of Peoples’ Organizations Along Manggahan Floodway (APOAMF) formed in response. Led by people living in floodway-adjacent informal settlements, the group fought for the rights of families to housing and land, and to remain in their city.
“We believe in order to be a resilient community, the people should have the capacity to organize with government stakeholders,” said Bryan Carlo R. Teodosio, an organizer with the Community Organizers Multiversity, an NGO that partnered with APOAMF. “They need to be consulted at all levels.”
In 2010, APOAMF launched the People’s Plan, a community-based, participatory process to develop a housing alternative to eviction. The plan allowed Manggahan residents to plan a new apartment complex, not far from their original community. Residents worked with an architect and local and national government officials on the location — set on an embankment to reduce flood risk — and design. The complex features strong materials, thick walls and ceilings, elevated water tanks, and strategic placement of structural beams in order to make the apartments stronger and more flood- and typhoon-resistant.
APOAMF negotiated with the government and advocated at local, national and international levels before receiving official sign-off. Construction began in 2017. When complete, the project should have a total of 15 buildings with 900 units. So far, 480 families have moved into rent-to-own apartments.
The Manggahan Low Rise Building Project in Pasig City, Philippines. Photo by APOAMF
Avoiding Climate Migration in Other Poor, Urban Communities
While Manggahan offers many families a chance to stay in Pasig City, the complex can’t accommodate everyone. Many people have already been relocated to cities over an hour away. Yet there’s still much that other communities can learn from the project.
Residents of informal settlements, around 1 billion people worldwide, are on the frontlines of climate impacts. Informal settlements often have poor (or nonexistent) basic services like electricity and sanitation. They are more exposed to natural hazards like flooding and heat waves. They’re usually left out of city-wide development plans. And, like many Pasig City residents, they’re often displaced or forcibly relocated post-disaster.
Community planning meeting in Pasig City. Photo by APOAMF
When governments work in partnership with people living in urban poverty — to co-create and scale adaptation solutions — it can help build the climate resilience of cities and individuals. The Global Commission on Adaptation’s Action Tracks on Cities and Locally Led Action are focused on these kinds of partnerships. The action tracks aim to empower and scale planning, implementation and learning from locally led adaptation, and to build the climate resilience of the urban poor by working with communities and civil society groups.
The People’s Plan can serve as a model for what happens when local actors take charge of ensuring their community’s resilience. Community members rallied around the project, creating a unifying vision with clear goals. Joint dialogues helped authorities and community groups co-create solutions and trust each other, fostering sustainable outcomes and laying the groundwork for future coordination.
“We believe we have to start where the people are,” says Teodosio. “But we do not want to end where they are. [We ask], ‘What is our envisioned community’?”