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Wetlands: An effective but undervalued climate solution

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6 Feb 2022
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Wetlands: An effective but undervalued climate solution

Wetlands: An effective but undervalued climate solution

By Green Climate Fund 03 February 2022

Coastal wetlands such as mangroves store carbon up to 55 times faster than tropical rainforests. Peatlands, which cover about three per cent of the planet’s land surface, sequester approximately 30 per cent of all land-based carbon – that’s twice the amount than all of the world’s forests combined. Yet, wetlands, from marshes to swamps to coral reefs, are disappearing three times faster than forests.

In addition to the impacts of climate change such as the sea-level rise and ocean acidification that affect mangroves and coral reefs, land-use change is the biggest driver of wetland loss and degradation. According to The Global Wetland Outlook: Special Edition 2021, over half of all the wetlands of international importance are negatively affected by agriculture. When wetlands are drained or burned for agriculture, they may lose some of their environmental services functions, such as water retention and provisioning, and they turn from being carbon sinks to carbon sources. Centuries of stored carbon are released into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.

Healthy wetlands are critical to meeting sustainable development goals and to solving the biodiversity and climate crises. Wetland ecosystem services can help address both climate change mitigation and adaptation, play a core role in disaster risk reduction, provide adequate quantities of clean water, support food security, and secure millions of livelihoods around the world.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), as the world’s largest climate fund dedicated to helping developing countries raise and realize their climate ambitions in line with the Paris Agreement, has been scaling up its investments in wetlands by supporting large-scale initiatives that protect, restore, and promote their wise use.

To date, GCF has 26 climate action projects in wetlands across three continents, targeting at least 10 Ramsar sites. These climate investments are estimated to be worth USD 1.2 billion in GCF resources, covering a minimum surface area of 525,000 hectares of wetlands (approximately 181,837 hectares benefiting from restoration activities, 338,083 hectares under sustainable management, and 4,860 hectares under protection). The value of wetlands for people and the planet cannot be overstated. In order to meet the global climate challenge, wetland conservation and restoration must take place across the agriculture, environment, urban, and water sectors.

SOURCE: DEVELOPMENT AID

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