Polly Ericksen, Senior Scientist and Interim Team Leader Drylands Programme, People, Livestock and the Environment, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya, will represent ILRI in a meeting on Grasslands climate change mitigation and adaptation potential on Wednesday, 5 December 2012, in Doha, Qatar. This is a side event being held at the Eighteenth Conference of Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting. The drylands session is being jointly hosted by the Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia (ERINA), the Government of Mongolia, ILRI, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The side event aims to provide a coherent view of evidence of how poor livestock keepers can manage grasslands, and how policies can support the rehabilitated grasslands to better adapt to climate change.
Speakers at the drylands side event will describe measurement methods used in national climate change action plans (low emission development strategies, nationally appropriate mitigation strategies) and in projects in selected countries globally.
Ericksen observes that ‘Grasslands cover 26% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and store 8% of global carbon, thus helping to stem global warming. But most of the world’s grasslands are now degraded, and thus store less carbon than healthy grasslands. Restoring the health of grasslands increases their carbon storage capacity while also increasing their productivity in terms of the amount of biomass and livestock they support. And when grassland productivity is increased, so is the food and nutritional security of poor livestock herding communities, which are then more resilient and better able to adapt to climate change’.
Established in 1994, UNCCD, one of the joint hosts of the drylands side event, is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The convention focuses on the world’s arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples are found.
The UNFCCC is an international treaty that sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to address climate change. It is one of three conventions adopted at the ‘Rio Earth Summit’ in 1992. Its sister Rio conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UNCCD. The three are intrinsically linked.
In the UNFCCC, countries pledge how they will cooperate to limit average global temperature increases and resulting climate change and to better cope with that change. The treaty was called a ‘framework convention’ because it was seen as a starting point for addressing the problem of climate change.
With 194 member nations, the UNFCCC has near universal membership. Under the convention, member governments commit: to gathering and sharing information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices; to launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries; and to cooperating in work to find ways of adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Since the UNFCCC treaty entered into force in 1994, the parties of the convention have been holding regular meetings, called ‘Conferences of the Parties (COP)’, to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP is seen as the ‘supreme body’ of the convention.