The climate has always been changing…but the pace is now faster than humans have ever seen.
Climate change threatens to make parts of the planet uninhabitable or inhospitable for life as we know it while worsening poverty, swamping coastlines and destroying infrastructure. In short, it is the most pressing global challenge we have ever faced.
Conservation International (CI) protects perhaps humanity’s biggest ally in the fight against climate change: nature.
Nature can provide up to 30 percent of the mitigation action needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius on average (2.7 F).
Deforestation accounts for about 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by
In Amazonian forests, 1 percent of the tree species sequester 50 percent of the carbon.
Current greenhouse gas emission trends put the world on course for a 3.7-4.8°C temperature increase by 2100, which would cause catastrophic effects. Even current international commitments fall short of the cuts required to limit warming to a relatively safer 2°C. Even if all emissions are stopped immediately, effects will continue for centuries due to the cumulative impact of emissions already in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, nearly 800 million people globally are currently considered especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including the Caribbean region.
Conservation International envisions a world where nature’s contribution to addressing climate change is fully maximized. This means that nature not only lives up to its potential to mitigate climate change — tropical forests alone can deliver 30% of mitigation action needed to prevent catastrophic climate change — but also is fully deployed in places where ecosystems can help vulnerable populations adapt to the already-present and future effects of climate change.
Conservation International addresses climate change on two fronts:
Helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change that are already happening and that are expected to accelerate, such as sea-level rise.
Working to prevent further climate change by reducing emissions, enhancing carbon storage, etc.
Coastlines are the front lines of climate change: By storing large amounts of carbon and protecting vulnerable coastal communities from rising seas, coastal ecosystems help us both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Mangrove coverage is broadly estimated to be in the order of 250,000 – 300,000 ha across the Northern coasts of Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and Amapá State, Brazil, a region known as the North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NBS-LME). The NBS-LME has one of the most contiguous and dynamic mangrove forests in the world. Covering 80-90% of this coastline, these mangroves stabilize ~1600 km of silt enriched sediments against erosion, mediate in-shore flooding, sustain fisheries and ensure coastal water quality. We are working towards increasing the number of protected areas in Guyana as well as supporting management systems for protected areas, including the Protected Area Trust. Through this new expansion, we will be helping to preserve Guyana’s coast and freshwater sources by providing support to regional coastal planning and development agencies.
Incorporating natural capital in national development strategies
The fertile soil, fresh air, clean water, lush rainforest and diverse animal life all belong to what we call our “natural capital.” CI helps governments and companies to understand the value of nature — in some cases, the value of stored carbon — creating powerful incentives to protect ecosystems. CI works with the government of Guyana towards integrating the value of natural capital in national development strategies and programs, including promoting participation from all sectors, improving natural resource management knowledge and skills and mainstreaming natural capital into the national accounts.
Bolstering Guyana’s National Protected Areas System (NPAS)
Guyana’s relatively new NPAS is central to the development of a green economy. The expansion of the system is a key portion of the Emission Reduction Programme included in Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as well as part of the commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. CI supported the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) in developing a strategy for the expansion of NPAS in keeping with Guyana’s international commitments. The strategy is built from the identification of gaps in the coverage of the current system. CI also helped bolster the capacity of the PAC and the Protected Areas Trust to more effectively manage the current and expanded systems.