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The new IAP Statement ‘Climate Change and Biodiversity: Interlinkages and policy options’ highlights that climate and biodiversity policies are currently insufficiently connected and addressing  climate change and biodiversity decline together is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Climate change and biodiversity decline are major challenges of our time. Both are predominantly caused by human activities, with profound consequences for people and the ecosystems on which we depend. In 2021 and 2022, the major United Nations conferences on biodiversity (COP15) and on climate change (COP26) will provide an opportunity for governments to focus international attention on the interconnectedness and interdependence of climate change and biodiversity.

This is why the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), a global network whose more than 140 member academies constitute more than 30,000 leading scientists, engineers and health professionals in over 100 countries, issues today the new Statement ‘Climate Change and Biodiversity: Interlinkages and policy options’.

The Statement examines interconnections between biodiversity and climate change and outlines how measures that benefit biodiversity have the potential to support climate action, and how some aspects of climate action can support biodiversity. It also discusses instances where some approaches to address climate change can undermine efforts to protect or enhance biodiversity.

“The year 2021 should be one of the turning points in history, in which the international community collaborated to make a long-lasting difference by streamlining and integrating climate change and biodiversity policies and embarking on a pathway towards a stable climate and a vibrant biosphere,” says Sir Richard Catlow, IAP co-President and member of the UK Royal Society.

“By better integrating climate and biodiversity policies at international and national levels, the full potential of biodiversity to support climate action could be leveraged, whilst at the same time helping to reverse the ongoing decline in biodiversity,” adds Depei Liu, IAP co-President and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

As highlighted in the Statement, some policy measures are beneficial in both areas, helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as to conserve and restore biodiversity. However, this is not guaranteed, and some climate actions can undermine biodiversity goals.

Key policy recommendations include:

  • Build a sustainable food system with climate- and biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices, responsible food trade, and equitable food distribution.
  • Reduce rates of natural ecosystem loss and degradation, protect, restore and expand natural ecosystems, and increase landscape connectivity.
  • Ensure that expansion of renewable energy systems has positive biodiversity benefits built into its design.
  • Recognise, respect and safeguard the rights and livelihoods of local and traditional users of ecosystems when implementing biodiversity and climate change actions.
  • Discourage ecosystem-based approaches to climate mitigation that have negative outcomes for biodiversity, such as tree planting in inappropriate ecosystems, tree monocultures, and unsustainable energy crops.

IAP’s principles underpinning biodiversity and climate action are:

  • Transformation. Mitigation at the scale needed to keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C, or to reverse global biodiversity decline, requires a transformative change in the way our societies consume and produce resources.
  • Collaboration. Governments alone cannot achieve the transformations needed – coordinated climate and biodiversity actions from multiple stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, are essential.
  • Integration. Greater understanding of the biodiversity-climate relationship should help to end the separation between the national and international policy frameworks that currently address climate change and biodiversity decline.
  • Additionality. Where Nature-based Solutions are implemented to help mitigate climate change, they should not delay or lower any ambition to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels or reduce energy use through more energy efficient technologies.
  • Best practice. The success or failure of Nature-based Solutions and of other responses to climate change and biodiversity issues is dependent on the adoption of best practice and should be evidence-based and tailored to the location.
  • Equity. The diversity of environmental and climate policies, from protected areas to payments for ecosystem services, should acknowledge the different dimensions of equity to ensure a sustainable and equitable future that leaves no one behind.

The full statement is available at https://www.interacademies.org/statement/climate-change-and-biodiversity-interlinkages-and-policy-options.

About the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP)

Under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), more than 140 national, regional and global member academies work together to support the vital role of science in seeking evidence-based solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. In particular, IAP harnesses the expertise of the world's scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, improve public health, promote excellence in science education, and achieve other critical development goals. IAP academy members constitute more than 30,000 leading scientists, engineers and health professionals in over 100 countries.

A central focus of IAP's mission is to reach out to society and participate in discussions on critical global issues in which science plays a crucial role, and since its inception in 1993, IAP has been producing statements on issues of fundamental importance to humanity. These statements – which are released only once they have been endorsed by the majority of IAP members – are not only a reflection of the major issues that confront society but are also evidence of IAP's ongoing commitment to society.