International Partnership for Blue Carbon

16 November, UNFCCC COP22, Marrakech, Morocco - The Governments of Australia and United Arab Emirates convened a side event in Marrakech at the UN Climate Conference on the Blue Carbon Partnership. The partnership was established in recognition of the role that ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and salt marshes play in the carbon cycle through their sequestration of carbon dioxide.

Chaired by the Minister of Environment of Australia the Hon. Josh Frydenberg and the representative of UAE, the side event brought together a diverse set of stakeholders including the Director General of SPREP, Mr Kosi Latu.

"From a SPREP perspective we are particularly interested in the importance of maintaining and restoring the health and extent of these ecosystems which enhances community and environmental resilience and ultimately improving the livelihoods," said Mr Latu.

"The high carbon sequestration capability of these environments is just one of the many positive ecosystem services provided by their protection and health, however, they also have an important role in adaptation including acting as effective buffers against storm surges."

BlueCarbon1Photo courtesy of the Department of the Environment and Energy of Australia

The Partnership also needs to consider data collection including its wider dissemination to relevant stakeholders. In the Pacific, for example, there is a lack of baseline information about the nature and extent of seagrass which we know has a positive impact against ocean acidification. A mapping exercise of seagrass in the Pacific region would be a good place to start.

The side event was provided with some new information, such as that coastal blue carbon ecosystems occupy <1% of the seafloor, yet sequester almost half the ocean's stored carbon. They store carbon 30-50 times faster than tropical rainforest, and can store for very long time frames.

While there are significant co-benefits of protecting, conserving and restoring these ecosystems, SPREP's approach is to view such work as adaptation. Concerns have been expressed in the region of the relative cost of establishing monitoring systems to measure emissions sequestered, hence the focus on the adaptation aspects of blue carbon.

The International Partnership for Blue Carbon was held on Monday, 14 November at the Twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP22). - #4PacIslands
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