CORDIO Asia Final Report - Management of Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs and Coastal Ecosystems in Tsunami-affected Areas of the Andaman Sea and South Asia

The tsunami of 26 December 2004 had a major impact on countries around the Indian Ocean. In many areas the devastation was extreme, but overall the effects on on human settlements, infrastructure as well as ecosystems were patchy. In many ways it highlighted and exacerbated existing problems, such as coral reef degradation due to climate change driven coral bleaching and over fishing, and associated loss of livelihoods. Evidence quickly emerged that indicated more severe impacts from the tsunami in areas that had seen more severe degradation of natural ecosystems and resources, as well as in societies under strain. The project “Management of Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs and Coastal Ecosystems in Tsunami affected Areas of the Andaman Sea and South Asia” was developed by IUCN’s Global Marine Programme and supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland through a grant to IUCN. Taking a holisticapproach to addressing tsunami impacts in the context of preexisting processes and trends, the project worked towards three objectives: (i) to improve the management of coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves and other key environments, specifically in relation to the impacts of climate change; (ii) to develop alternative livelihood projects for families in coastal areas that no longer can support themselves due to the deterioration of the coastal environment; and (iii) to improve the education and awareness of the impacts of human activities on coastal ecosystems and strengthen the capacity of local resource users and managers to mitigate those impacts.

Climate Change and Marine Turtles in the Wider Caribbean

Changing conditions in sea turtle nesting areas as a result of climate change are potentially serious for sea turtle populations already under pressure from over-exploitation, fisheries bycatch and habitat modification. Successful reproduction is key for population survival and is strongly influenced by the nesting environment. Understanding how nesting habitats may be affected by climate change, specifically changes in temperature and precipitation, is an important early step in assessing the vulnerability of regional sea turtle populations.

Climate changes will not be uniform across the globe as they are influenced by local physical processes. WWF has used regional projections for changes in temperature and precipitation to investigate projected changes in nesting conditions in the Wider Caribbean.

The main aims of this project are:

  • to create a comprehensive, interactive, online map that can be used by conservation groups and coastal managers to examine the local changes in
  • climate that sea turtles will face throughout their range in the Wider Caribbean
  • to assess the relative vulnerability of different nesting areas in the region to climate change

Regional climate change projections for the Caribbean have been developed by the PRECIS-Caribe project and temperature and precipitation projections for thirty-eight countries within the region were analysed. The Wider Caribbean region is facing much warmer and drier conditions in the coming decades. In general, small islands show less dramatic projected changes in both temperature and precipitation than mainland countries and as such may provide refuge from hotter, drier conditions in other parts of the region. The variation in local changes seen here, particularly for precipitation, highlights the importance of examining future projections on a finer scale than global climate models can provide.

Counting on Forests and Accounting for Forest Contributions in National Climate Change Actions

This paper constitutes a meta-analysis of the first national communications submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in which important climate risks and opportunities for using forest to alleviate these risks were identified. Gap analyses were carried out in seven case study countries in central America (Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua), west Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali) and southeast Asia (Indonesia), which form part of the Tropical Forests and Climate Change Adaptation (TroFCCA) project of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE).

In addition, the outline for the second national communication to the UNFCCC was reviewed on how forest information could be used to address and overcome some of the gaps identified in the first national communications. As a case study, similar analysis on the use of forest was conducted on the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) for Burkina Faso.

Although forest is a common theme, there are distinct similarities and differences in the role of forest in the seven countries. In all the countries, forests play an important role in national inventories of greenhouse gases by absorbing carbon dioxide throughout the growth stages. Additionally, forests are globally important as regulating mechanisms in the hydrological cycle. Regional similarities are evident in central American countries in the roles forests play in contributing to hydroelectric activity and in regulating the supply of potable water. There are distinct regional differences between central America, Indonesia and west Africa in both the climate risks and the use of forest. west African countries, for example, are less vulnerable to storms and the resulting deluge-induced inland floods experienced in central America and Indonesia. Land stability as a function of forest management is therefore emphasised in central America and Indonesia. The main message is that forest is important to all seven countries for climate change adaptation. However, each country has unique forms of vulnerability that shape its use of forest goods and services. Thus, the unique context of each country must be considered when formulating climate-change adaptation policies. The analysis of the NAPA in Burkina Faso highlights the significant and diverse roles that forests play in climate change adaptation. The majority of the NAPA priority projects identified in Burkina Faso are forest based. Thus, forest constitutes an important entry point for NAPA implementation, and success will require measures that enhance forest adaptive capacity. Overall, the full potentials of the use of forest are not strongly emphasised in the national documents on climate change.

An overall conclusion is that climate change adaptation in tropical countries requires substantial information on forests, which must be timely and accurate, and that needs to be integrated into an adaptive management policy framework.

Climate-proofing Energy Systems

Current energy policies in industrialised countries are driven predominantly by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, measures under the Kyoto Protocol to mitigate the climatic impacts of energy production have failed to take into account the full impact of increased climatic variability: e.g., flooding, seasonal droughts, storm surges, landslides, extreme winds, freezing conditions, heat waves. Adaptation efforts are therefore urgently needed—not only in geographically-vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh, Central Africa or Tuvalu—but everywhere, as climate change is a global phenomenon.

Compared to mitigation—where a common metric in terms of “tons of CO2 equivalent reduced” has traditionally been used—identification of adaptation measures is still in its infancy. There are as yet no commonly accepted parameters and indicators to compare adaptation needs and the effectiveness of adaptation measures. Given the importance of energy in any economy and in any development efforts, it is vital that vulnerabilities within the energy sector itself be reduced substantially. Proposed adaptation measures must also support ecodevelopment goals if these and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be reached. Thus, parameters and indicators (a metric) for energy systems need to be developed and tested  to assess whether proposed measures are appropriate.

This report explains why a metric for the vulnerability and resilience of energy systems is needed and proposes a methodology. It summarises anticipated climate-induced impacts on key energy systems and outlines possible adaptation measures. Observations and analyses from studies of ten Sub-Saharan countries currently applying the developed metric are presented. The report concludes with a series of recommendations to help reinforce the resilience of energy systems.

Effective Conservation Planning Requires Learning and Adaptation

Conservation decisions often involve uncertainty about the underlying ecological and social systems and, in particular, how these systems will respond to the implementation of conservation actions. Future decision making can be improved by learning more about these systems and their responses to past conservation actions, by evaluating the performance of the actions being undertaken. This is a “passive” adaptive management approach to conservation. However, the purposeful and experimental application of different conservation actions can yield greater knowledge through more rapid and targeted learning. This is an “active” adaptive management approach to conservation. Improving future management decisions through learning should be viewed as essential to all conservation plans. Unfortunately, the incorporation of explicit learning processes within the greater framework of conservation planning processes is rare. Here, we provide an overview of factors to consider when attempting the implementation of an adaptive approach to conservation planning, along with ideas for future research.


Climate Change Outreach and Communications Guide

As part of their climate protection efforts, local governments generally implement a range of emissions reduction measures, leading to lower energy use and reduced energy costs. However, local government action has symbolic value that extends beyond the magnitude of emissions reduced. Government action demonstrates the savings potential, ease of implementation, and social value of energy saving measures to the community atlarge. When awareness of the issue is raised via targeted and well-publicized efforts, the experience gained by the local government can inform and inspire individual action, leading to substantial community-wide reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, few comprehensive resources exist to assist local governments in communicating and reaching out to their communities on this complex issue. And, without effective engagement of the community, it is unlikely that local governments will be able to reach their climate protection goals. Recognizing this need, ICLEI has created the ICLEI Outreach and Communications Guide.

The ICLEI Outreach and Communications Guide brings together important information on how to utilize effective communication avenues to reach out to predetermined target audiences, and highlights some of the best local government communication practices from across the nation. Given that communications are greatly affected by the cultural context, this Guide does not provide universal conclusions; rather, it shares good practices and provides inspiration for future communications and outreach efforts.

Toward a Greener Future: Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Action Plan

Most of the world’s governments accept the 2007 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Among its key conclusions is that human activity is warming the planet, with severe consequences. We can expect warmer average temperatures, rising sea levels, and more-frequent extreme storms. Nova Scotia is particularly susceptible to these changes because most of our population lives along the coastline, and much of our infrastructure is located in vulnerable areas. Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Action Plan has two main goals: reducing our contribution to climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and preparing for changes to our climate that are already inevitable.

Potential Ecological Consequences of Climate Change in South Florida and the Everglades

Global climate changes are likely to have profound e ects on the Earth’s ecosystems and on our perspectives on ecological conservation. Regional models project varying trends across the United States and even between southern and northern Florida. The purpose of this report is to summarize climate change literature pertinent to south Florida, particularly the Everglades, and to assess potential ecosystem vulnerabilities and the capacity for adaptation to climate change in this important ecosystem.

Special Climate Change Program 2009-2012 Mexico (Executive Summary)

The Special Climate Change Program 2009-2012 is a Federal Government initiative in Mexico to show the country's interest and commitment to help solve the problems associated with climate change impacts. This report outlines the main goals for adaptation and mitigation in Mexico during 2009-2012. Priorities include sustainable development, clean energy initiatives, and preservation of natural resources. This plan includes 105 objectives and 294 goals as a framework for Mexico to mitigate and adapt to climate change without compromising development and support the economy.

The full report (in Spanish) can be found here.

Coral Reefs, Climate Change and Resilience: An Agenda for Action from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain

Three linked workshops were held at the 4th IUCN Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in October 2008. The common theme among the workshops was the use of resilience approaches in conserving coral reefs. One workshop was focused on the science of resilience assessment, the second on applying resilience principles in Marine Protected Area Management, and the third on policy tools and approaches that can support resilience-based conservation. The workshops were organized by CORDIO (Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), assisted by the IUCN Climate Change and Coral Reefs working group (CCCR). This report highlights new themes for action identified by presenters in the workshops by collating suggestions and recommendations into one document as a platform for further action by organizers and participants. A major outcome of the sessions was the drafting and adoption of a formal resolution on supporting resilience-based management of coral reefs and other marine organisms, calling on IUCN to adopt and promote these approaches in its 2009-12 Work Programme, and for other organizations, countries and partners to do the same (Resolution 4.080).