Statement by IUCN Director General at the UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakech

We meet at a historic moment in time. The rapid entry-into-force of the Paris Agreement, and the convening of CMA1 in Marrakech, heralds the beginning of a new era for achieving concerted global action on climate change.

Primary forest in central Reunion island Photo: © JP Palasi

As 2015 will be remembered for the successful adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, so must 2016 be remembered as the year of action. It is entirely appropriate that the Moroccan Presidency has chosen to frame COP22 as the action and implementation COP.

We in IUCN – and our 1,300+ State and NGO Members that make up the global conservation community – have worked in particular to advance nature-based solutions to climate change this year, including at the IUCN World Conservation Congress held in September in Hawaii, which saw more than 10,000 participants.

Nature is increasingly being impacted by climate change today. But its conservation, restoration and sustainable management – be it forests, oceans or wetlands – provide us all with practical, cost-effective, no-regret solutions to climate change, while simultaneously benefiting human wellbeing and safeguarding biodiversity.

For instance, terrestrial ecosystems store almost three times the amount of carbon found in the atmosphere. Healthy oceans absorb about 25% of annual carbon dioxide emissions. These are not trivial contributions.

Both the Paris Agreement and the Global Climate Action process convened by the two Climate Champions have clearly recognised the importance of nature-based solutions. IUCN strongly welcomes this.

The need to act – and act now – has never been more urgent. We need to involve all sectors and sections of society, including women and indigenous communities, and particularly business, in this historic fight against climate change. And we need to use nature as our ally.

Thank you.

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