Message from the Chairperson

The year 2015 was a turning point not only for the fight against climate change but also for biodiversity. The global agreement that emerged from the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December was an important victory in the ongoing battle to save our planet from the negative impacts of climate change. The hard-won commitments made by 195 countries to reduce emissions, facilitate adaptation, minimize loss and damage, mobilize financing, and do all these things transparently, signal a new era of cooperative action toward the shared goal of holding global average temperature change to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

But now we must work hard if we are to succeed. Current commitments and real action plans set our trajectory rather at around 3 degrees Celsius of increase in global average temperature at the end of the century—a level expected to cause environmental and human disaster. Beyond negotiations, what will really matter is the amount of action and innovation the global community applies to the problem, notably under the framework of the so-called “Paris-Lima action agenda,” which supports partnerships between corporations, civil societies and local or national governments in all relevant areas.

This is an additional incentive to boost the biodiversity agenda, which has an important role in the fight to address climate change. Though it is sometimes overlooked, biodiversity and nature-based solutions must be included in any effective plan to meet our shared temperature change target. Three specific nature-based solutions are essential:

  • Reducing or eliminating deforestation, because it keeps carbon in the forests.
  • Restoring ecosystems on a large scale, because doing so has the potential to pull as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius of temperature increase out of the climate change equation.
  • Maintaining natural ecosystems, because they help people and other forms of life adapt to a changing climate by ensuring water and food supplies, preventing soil erosion, tempering extreme weather, and securing sustainable nature-based livelihoods.

The good news for those who signed the climate agreement, and indeed anyone interested in Earth’s future, is that there are people already hard at work on some of these nature-based solutions. Right now, CEPF grantees are implementing projects designed to sustain some of the world’s most vital ecosystems in the biodiversity hotspots. These projects are part of a larger strategy, the goal of which is to address the most urgent needs of critical ecosystems while at the same time building up local conservation leadership and networks that are committed to protecting these areas for the long run. These efforts can be scaled up to help nations meet their local and global obligations, and to help us all enjoy a healthier, more secure future.

CEPF’s support of civil society in the biodiversity hotspots has already proved to be a more and more critical part of securing the “global public goods” provided by biodiversity. On top of conserving the inherent value of nature, CEPF addresses in a very unique way some of the more essential human challenges of our century. In 2016, the climate change challenge adds to the urgency and importance of the cause that we at CEPF serve, as it is more and more evident that biodiversity is central to dealing with so many of the most pressing concerns our planet faces.

– Jean-Michel Severino,
CEPF Donor Council Chairperson

Photo Credits

CEPF Donor Council Chairperson Jean-Michel Severino. © Conservation International/photo by Karen Mikosz