UAE endorses Leaders’ Pledge for Nature at COP26

    10 Nov 2021

    The UAE has endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature that commits countries to take the necessary steps to achieve sustainable development, and put nature and biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 as part of the UN’s Decade of Action, BNA and WAM report.

    Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri on November 8 announced the endorsement of the pledge at a high-level event titled ‘The Way Forward: Bridging the gap on nature from COP26 to COP15’ – a joint event of the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, and the Global Ocean Alliance, Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

    The gathering was hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, France, and the UK in the presence of President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica.

     

     

    Endorsed by the European Commission and 92 countries from all regions, the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is a commitment to urgent and transformational actions aimed at addressing biodiversity loss, safeguarding the planet, and working collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes for nature, climate, and sustainable development. It highlights increasing the protection of the planet’s land and oceans through effectively managed protected areas as one of the actions to achieve these goals.

     

    https://ec.europa.eu/environment/news/bridging-cop26-and-cop15-2021-10-29_lt

    Almheiri said, “The UAE is proud to endorse the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, committing to working with other nations to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, and sending a powerful message that there is no conflict between nature conservation and the economy. The move aligns with our unwavering dedication to protecting our environment and preserving it for future generations, instilled in our nation by the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”

    Emphasizing the importance of addressing the dual challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, she added, “The alarming magnitude of biodiversity loss can sometimes come across as an afterthought in the climate process, and it is critical that we as governments and stakeholders rally around dual-purpose deliverables. Aligning our agendas for tackling biodiversity loss and climate change is the only way we can resolve them, and take decisive collective action to preserve our planet and the life on it for future generations.”

    The Minister noted that protected areas play a key role in safeguarding ecosystems that provide habitats for biodiversity, and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The UAE has 49 protected areas that account for 15.5 percent of its territory. The country has achieved Aichi Target 11 for terrestrial protected areas that span 18.4 percent of its land territory, and marine protected areas that account for 12 percent of its marine and coastal territory.

    The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature entails shifting land use and agricultural policies away from environmentally harmful practices for land and marine ecosystems, and significantly reducing air, land, and marine pollution, particularly by eliminating plastic leakage into the ocean by 2050. It calls for a transition to sustainable production, consumption, and food systems that meet people’s needs while remaining within planetary boundaries, and ensuring that future government policies and decisions factor in nature and environmental protection in a way that promotes biodiversity conservation, restoration, and sustainable use.

    By joining the Pledge, countries recognize the crucial role of science and research in the fight against ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change, and commit to engaging the whole of society, including governments, academia, business, finance, and local communities with a focus on women and youth.

    Ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the EU is calling on world leaders to address climate change and biodiversity loss in an integrated manner. As confirmed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessments and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, protecting and restoring nature is essential to reduce emissions and adapt to a warmer world. Without urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will not be achieved.

    https://ec.europa.eu/environment/news/bridging-cop26-and-cop15-2021-10-29_lt

    Ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the EU is calling on world leaders to address climate change and biodiversity loss in an integrated manner. As confirmed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessments and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, protecting and restoring nature is essential to reduce emissions and adapt to a warmer world. Without urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will not be achieved.

    The UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow and the Biodiversity Conference COP15, to take place from 25 April to 8 May 2022 in China, are crucial meetings for life on Earth, with existential implications for humankind. Next week’s Glasgow conference represents a key opportunity in the lead up to COP15 to capitalize on the synergies between the climate and biodiversity agenda and provide the impetus needed for achieving an ambitious biodiversity accord next year. 

    Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičijus said:

    Climate change and biodiversity loss are closely interrelated. Both pose an existential threat to humankind. The climate crisis is already having growing impacts on people in Europe and across the globe. If we want to avert the growing devastating impact on our societies, economies and the environment, we need to go towards global net-zero emissions and protect and restore nature – our strongest ally in the fight against climate change.

    At the Glasgow climate talks Commissioner Sinkevičijus will take part in an event during the Nature Day (6 November). The events of the day will aim to ensure the importance of nature and sustainable land use are part of global action on climate change and a clean, green recovery. He will also be speaking at the EU Ocean Day – a side event on 9 November, and World Biodiversity Summit: Life Below Water – “Harnessing the Blue Economy through Investment & Innovation” – a side event on 10 November.

    A High Level side event on 3 November ‘The Way Forward: Bridging the gap on nature from COP26 to COP15’, hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, France and the UK, will demonstrate high-level commitment to maintain momentum on ambitious action on nature between COP26 to COP15, including by joining forces across the three high level coalitions – the High Ambition Coalition, the Global Ocean Alliance and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. The latter was endorsed by Commission President von der Leyen and 90 other Heads of State and Government.

    With the European Green Deal, Europe is leading by example, creating pathways for a nature-positive, carbon neutral and equitable world. In particular, in its various policies, the Commission will strive to promote solutions that are inspired and supported by nature (‘nature-based solutions’) as a green business opportunity for farmers, foresters and land managers. Nature–based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems, simultaneously providing environmental, social and economic benefits and helping build resilience. Nature-based solutions contribute to biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as multiple other objectives.

    The Commission is currently preparing a proposal for a Nature Restoration Law that will set legally binding targets in the EU to restore degraded ecosystems for the benefit of biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation.

     

    Background

    The natural world is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. The biggest driver behind the global decline in nature is land and sea use change. Climate change is not only a direct driver of nature loss, it is also exacerbating the impact of other drivers. This complex interplay between climate change, species and ecosystems offers an opportunity to maximise the synergies between them and design mutually supportive policies which drive action from the global to the local scale.

    By conserving and restoring nature that sequesters high volumes of carbon we can lower risk to species and ecosystems and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Evidence shows that protecting at least 30% of the land and of the ocean globally would not only help to reverse adverse ecological impacts and help reduce species extinction risk but will also increase resilience and adaptation to climate change.

    Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission adopted its EU Biodiversity Strategy last year, which aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It commits to establishing a larger EU-wide network of effectively managed protected areas covering 30% of land and 30% of sea, with one third of this area strictly protected. The Strategy also sets out a wide range of commitments and measures aimed at restoring nature, enabling the necessary transformational change and expresses the Commission’s determination to mobilise all tools of external action and international partnerships to help develop and implement an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework.

    UAE endorses Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use

     

    The UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use that commits countries to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while advancing sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation, WAM reports.

    Over 90 countries have supported the declaration at the COP26 Leaders’ Action on Forests and Land Use Event during the World Leaders’ Summit. The forum convened governments, companies, financial actors, and non-state leaders to raise ambition on forests and land use in a way that delivers for the climate, people, economic development, and biodiversity.

    Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “When forests are lost and land is degraded, we are at a risk of losing the countless services these vital ecosystems offer, such as providing critical habitats for biodiversity and acting as natural carbon sinks to regulate climate at the forefront. We believe in the multilateral process as key to solving global challenges. Therefore, the UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and will work with other like-minded nations to end and reverse forest loss and land degradation worldwide. We urge all leaders to join forces in the global transition to sustainable land use.”

    In the fight against land degradation, the UAE reinforces its blue carbon ecosystems – coastal vegetation such as mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and seagrass meadows. Mangrove forests serve as powerful carbon sinks that sequester CO2 and enhance environmental resilience, thus offering considerable climate change mitigation and adaption benefits as well as providing critical habitats for biodiversity.

    To expand its blue carbon ecosystems, the country has committed to planting 30 million mangroves by 2030 in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

    The UAE has rolled out the National Blue Carbon Project that aims to enhance understanding about carbon storage and other services provided by the coastal ecosystems in the country. The project provides options for integrating these learnings into policy and management, leading to the sustainable use of these ecosystems and their services, and their preservation for future generations.

    The UAE is employing modern technologies and innovative solutions in its efforts to combat land degradation, including leveraging drones to map agricultural areas and sow tree seeds to reduce sand encroachment. Drones have helped disperse 6 million acacia seeds and 250,000 ghaf seeds across 25 sites nationwide.

    In addition, the UAE is leveraging highly innovative drone planting technology to sow mangrove seeds. This goal is supported by the ambitious Plantation Rehabilitation Program that involves the rehabilitation of all types of plants, especially rare species and those on the brink of extinction.

    The country is currently establishing the Abu Dhabi Plant Genetic Resources Centre (Gene Bank) that will be the largest in the region with a capacity to store 20,000 samples once completed in 2022. The facility aims to preserve plant biological diversity in the UAE and the wider region, and to help reproduce it in nature.

    Recognizing that protected areas play a key role in conserving endangered species and their habitats, the UAE has 49 protected areas that account for 15.5 percent of the country’s territory.

    To guide the country’s efforts to protect and restore its natural environment, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) is updating the National Strategy to Combat Desertification that focuses on preserving ecosystems and mitigating the effects of desertification.

    To boost community participation in the government’s drive to protect and restore the natural habitats of indigenous flora, MOCCAE launched the Gheras app, offering the public access to a complete database of local plant species and ways to care for them.

    The Ministry is also working on the UAE Smart Map of Natural Capital using remote sensing that will inform policies and decision-making on land use, investment, and business improvement in line with the country’s economic vision and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The high-resolution map will identify local biodiversity-rich ecosystems and services they provide to the environment, in addition to an economic valuation of these services.

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