UNEP and Government of Indonesia Emphasize Role of Blue Carbon in Combating Climate Change
Indonesia's Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner launch the concept of Blue Carbon at the 11th Special Session of UNEP Governing Council in Nusa Dua, Bali
Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia, February 25, 2010 - In a joint statement issued today at the XIth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council, Indonesia's Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Dr. Fadel Muhammad and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner have emphasized the important role of marine and coastal ecosystems in the fight against climate change.
The concept of Blue Carbon, which emphasizes the ability of marine and coastal ecosystems to sequester carbon, was introduced by UNEP in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Education and Science Organization (UNESCO).
Blue Carbon emphasizes the key role of marine and coastal ecosystems, which are dominated by marine vegetation such as mangrove forests, seagrass, brackish marshes and salt marshes. Coastal and marine ecosystems are believed to be able to complement the role of forests (Green Carbon) in taking up carbon emissions through sequestration.
Mr. Steiner said: "We already know that marine and coastal ecosystems are multi-trillion dollar assets linked to sectors such as tourism, shipping and fisheries - now it is emerging that they are natural allies against climate change."
Mr. Steiner and Dr. Fadel jointly emphasized that the basis of their joint statement is the mandate of the Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD) declared last year, as well as efforts to control the adverse effects of climate change.
"We appeal to all countries to preserve these abilities of coastal and marine ecosystems as important variables in global climate change dynamic", said Dr. Fadel and Mr. Steiner.
"This has opened the opportunity to conduct further research on the important role of the ocean as a controller of climate change. Indonesia has an extensive area of mangroves and sea grass that in turn, will significantly contribute to the process of carbon sequestration in the coastal area", according to Dr. Fadel. "We have to work on this because the future of the earth and mankind depends on how we manage ocean wisely and in a sustainable manner. Time goes fast and we are faced with choices that cannot be negotiable. Humans must maintain a balance that has been played by the sea in order to keep functioning and able to absorb carbon from the impact of our activities ", explained Dr. Fadel.
Mr. Steiner added: "If the world is to decisively deal with climate change, every source of emissions and every option for reducing these should be scientifically evaluated and brought to the international community's attention-that should include all the colours of carbon including now blue carbon linked with the marine and coastal ecosystems. Our new partnership aims to catalyze international attention upon this important issue."
The marine issue has been one of the important pillars in a special session of UNEP's meeting of the 11th SSGC UNEP/GMEF. On 24 February, UNEP awarded its first-ever Leadership award in ocean and coastal management to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Notes to Editors:
Blue Carbon Concept
Besides the benefit of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems in providing the resources and environment services to the livelihoods of coastal communities, they also play an important role in maintaining the balance of climate and carbon sequestration that is a contributor to climate change. The role of the sea and its ecosystems is maintaining the balance of carbon absorption. These balancing capabilities that are eventually absorbed by the ocean and its ecosystem become disrupted as more greenhouse gases are produced as a result of human activity. Without any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the next few decades could see coastal and marine ecosystems become significantly reduced. This will mean a further impact on coastal communities, marine biota and ecosystems and other coastal issues.
The Blue Carbon Report - The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon compiled by UNEP, FAO, UNESCO-IOC and IUCN describes the flow of carbon emissions and estimation capabilities of coastal and marine ecosystems to absorb carbon and greenhouse gases. This report was launched on 14 October 2009 at the Conference on Diversity, Cape Town Conference Center, South Africa.
This report confirms the important role of marine and coastal ecosystems in maintaining the climate balance. This report calls decision makers to mainstream the 'ocean' dimension into global climate change initiatives. The reports can be downloaded at the link http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/blue-carbon/.
11th Special Session of UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum
The 11th Meeting of SSGC UNEP/GMEF takes place from the 24th to 26th February 2010 in Bali International Convention Center, Nusa Dua, Bali. The meeting was officially opened by the President of Indonesia on February 24, 2010. The President of the Republic of Indonesia accepted an award from UNEP for his leadership in bringing marine and coastal issues to international fora.
Ministers at the 11th Meeting of SSGC UNEP/GMEF are discussing draft decisions on seven topics including (i) international environmental governance, (ii) enhanced coordination across the United Nations system, including the Environment Management Group, (iii) Intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, (iv) environmental law, (v) follow-up report on the environmental situation in the Gaza Strip, (vi) the oceans and (vii) Consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes.
The important outcomes that will be produced from the 11th meeting of SSGC UNEP / GMEF are the following: (i) Nusa Dua Declaration and; (ii) Decisions Under Preparation by the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP for Consideration by the Eleventh Special Session of the Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum. Both outcomes include paragraphs on oceans.
Oceans also received separate acknowledgement and are one of the seven topics to be discussed to the draft decision (The 11th SSGC UNEP / GMEF).
The meeting of the eleventh special session (the 11th SSGC UNEP / GMEF) is being attended by some 1,200 delegates from 192 countries under the theme: 'The Environment in the Multilateral System', with three key topics: a) international environmental governance and sustainable development; b) green economies, and; c) biodiversity and ecosystems. The meeting also combined with the ministerial meeting of Forest Eleven (F-11) on February 23, 2010 and the Simultaneous Extraordinary Conference of the Parties (ExCOPs) Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, from 22 to 24 February 2010.
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