UNESCO just published the first scientific assessment of blue carbon ecosystems present in marine sites classified by World Heritage; analysis that could pave the way to projects remunerated in certified emission reduction units (CERs).
The report entitled “UNESCO’s World Marine Heritage – Guardian of the World’s Blue Carbon Reserves” is the first scientific assessment of blue carbon ecosystems present in World Heritage marine sites.
The development of this study received the support of the Prince’s Government of Monaco, which has been a partner of the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Program since 2017, through a strategic collaboration within the framework of the expeditions led by the Explorations de Monaco.
Blue carbon ecosystems include seagrass beds, salt marshes and mangroves which form what scientists have called “blue carbon ecosystems”.
Their survival is of prime importance, because by absorbing and retaining large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and the ocean, they help mitigate the effects of climate change. They are among the most powerful carbon sinks in the biosphere and play a critical role in climate change mitigation.
UNESCO research highlights the essential value of World Heritage marine sites, which are home to at least 21% of the total surface of these ecosystems and 15% of all blue carbon resources in the world.
Their protection is essential for the carbon sequestration of the atmosphere, on the other hand, the degradation of these ecosystems could release billions of tons of CO2. These ecosystems thus contribute to the mitigation of climate change and help countries reduce or avoid additional emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
Blue carbon markets
To date, many countries have not integrated a blue carbon strategy into their climate change mitigation policies.
The International Union for the Conservation of the Nature (UICN), the Conservation and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission launched the “Blue Carbon” initiative, which aim is to promote financial incentives, action mechanisms, integrated methods for assessing blue carbon stocks and emissions, blue carbon accounting feasibility studies, and new scientific research.
Marine World Heritage sites could be the first to test and apply blue carbon finance programs.
« The blue carbon ecosystems of UNESCO Marine World Heritage sites not only provide vital ecosystem services, but are also an essential means for countries to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, in particular targets 14.2 and 14.5.23. However, climate change is affecting marine sites at an unprecedented rate and blue carbon reserves are particularly vulnerable to the extreme weather conditions associated with this change and to eutrophication. If not properly managed or protected, blue carbon ecosystems can turn into carbon emitters. »UNESCO
Although marine World Heritage sites are protected and managed to avoid their deterioration, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems in particular are undergoing, notably as a result of climate change, effects that threaten their survival and could trigger liberation. old carbon stocks, hitherto accumulated underground, in the form of atmospheric CO2.
This assessment provides a first scientific analysis of the ecosystems and blue carbon reserves of UNESCO marine World Heritage sites and their contribution to climate mitigation.
This will need to be reinforced by additional activities to systematically assess and monitor the extent and health of blue carbon ecosystems at UNESCO marine World Heritage sites.
« These conservation and restoration actions may provide funding opportunities through the United Nations Carbon Offsets Platform (offset.climateneutralnow.org), thus generating additional resources to invest in the conservation and restoration of these exceptional World Heritage sites for the benefit of present and future generations. »UNESCO
Article: Joana Foglia – Source : Le Patrimoine mondial marin de l’UNESCO – Gardien des réserves mondiales de carbone bleu