Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

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GLISPA Leads Event on Nature-based Solutions at Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2021

20190617 Caribbean Biodiversity Fund Conference June 17 18 2019 156768 1

GLISPA hosted a thematic session on Nature-based Solutions: Practical Steps for Implementation at Asia-Pacific Climate Week on 7 July 2021. The event highlighted key nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based adaptation measures that can be integrated into recovery plans to set the pathway for building back better through whole-of government and society approaches.

The two-hour session included two dynamic panel discussions: NbS – Tools for Implementation in Islands, moderated by IUCN, and Building with Nature in Asia, moderated by Wetlands International.

Islands and coastal communities in Asia and the Pacific are facing unique challenges and opportunities. They are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated and highlighted the impacts on food security, economies, livelihoods and local ecosystems. At the same time, however, islands, coastal and water-adjacent communities are uniquely positioned as leaders in the transition to a resilient future. Many countries and communities in Asia and the Pacific have already begun to design, implement, and integrate nature-based solutions and building with nature as key strategies to inclusively address cross-cutting societal challenges such as climate change, disaster risk, food and water security, public health, and sustainable development.

The first panel discussion on NbS – Tools for Implementation in Islands highlighted the need to address interlinked ecological/biodiversity, climate, and human wellbeing issues in an integrated, land-to-ocean and climate-responsive manner to support sustainable development in island systems. Panellists emphasised that building the capacity and resilience of local communities and empowering them to take action to shape their own futures should be at the heart of all climate adaptation and nature-based solutions. Locally driven solutions have global benefits, and they are critical for the sustainability and equity of interventions. Furthermore, nature-based approaches like the ridge to reef model are not new. In many cases, indigenous communities have been practicing landscape-level ecosystem management for generations. We need to move from project-based to systems-based approaches that fully recognise and build upon the unique, holistic characteristics of island ecosystems and communities.

The second panel discussion focused on practical aspects of Building with Nature in Asia, particularly challenges around mainstreaming, upscaling and financing nature-based interventions. The barriers to mainstreaming approaches of building with nature can largely be divided into three categories: 1) lack of knowledge, understanding, and capacity of stakeholders to implement; 2) institutional barriers, such as the lack of clear agenda or opportunities for dialogue and translation of the concept into understandable and actionable messages; and 3) financial barriers. Despite the benefits of building with nature, a significant investment gap in adaptation and natural capital persists. To address it, investment needs to be scaled up, including with novel approaches such as blended public and private finance. We need to build knowledge, gather evidence, mobilise stakeholders, learn from and expand pilot projects, and establish unconventional partnerships to overcome these barriers and to upscale and mainstream building with nature in Asia.

As the keynote speaker, the honourable Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam of Pakistan, said: “When you invest in nature, nature always pays you back.” Nature-based solutions and building with nature are participatory ways we can invest in not only nature but also our societies and economies to build the resilience we need in a changing world.

Esteemed moderators and panellists included:

Kate Brown, Executive Director of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA)
Ali Raza Rizvi, Global Coordinator Adaptation and DRR/Senior Advisor Resilience, IUCN
Dr. Fononga (Inga) Mangisi-Mafileo, Knowledge Management and Communications Advisor, Pacific Ridge to Reef Programme at the Geoscience, Maritime and Energy Division at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager, UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP)
Annadel Cabanban, Director – Philippines, Wetlands International
Ritesh Kumar, Country Focal Point for Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, Wetlands International
Sien Kok, Resource Economist, Deltares