Welcome everyone to what’s sure to be an exciting session on Nature-based Solutions for Climate, Society and Biodiversity.
My name is Monica Medina, and I am the U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans, International Environment and Scientific Affairs. I have been privileged to spend many years working on nature-based solutions and am lucky to be able to continue to lead this work on behalf of the State Department.
Even as we strive to reduce emissions and adapt to the changing world, we recognize that we need to unlock the power of the nature to help us sequester and store additional carbon, stabilize climate cycles, adapt to climate impacts, and host the universe of species on which we depend.
Therefore the United States is committed to conserving nature. We believe nature-based solutions offer an efficient, effective, and flexible means to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Conserving, restoring, and sustainably managing ecosystems is an essential part of our climate solution toolkit. Ecosystems – both on land and in the ocean – are currently (and will remain) the best carbon storage system we have. However, they are often overlooked, under resourced, or deprioritized.
Nature-based solutions – just on land – can provide at least 1/3 of the emissions reduction potential that is needed to keep the 1.5 degree C target within reach.
Just as forest conservation, restoration, and adaptation generate broad benefits related to climate change and other areas, other nature-based solutions can advance multiple benefits. These solutions include actions that protect coasts and critical marine ecosystems, reduce flooding, moderate extreme heat, replenish groundwater sources, capture and store carbon dioxide, conserve biodiversity, and improve the productivity of agricultural and forest lands to produce food and fiber.
President Biden has prioritized the use of nature-based solutions for climate, society, and biodiversity.
In one of his first executive orders, President Biden committed to conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by 2030.
Last year, at COP26, President Biden announced the US Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks. Since then, we have been working to help drive progress forward in each of The Plan’s four key objectives, including building a whole-of-government approach to deliver on this ambitious, decade-long plan to support global efforts to halt and reverse deforestation by leveraging a range of diplomatic, policy, and financing tools.
The United States will continue this leadership by co-chairing the Forest Climate Leaders Partnership with one of our panelists, Ghana Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Abdulai Jinapor [Ab-Doo-Lai Gin-Ah-Poor].
Minister Jinapor and Special Presidential Envoy Kerry will work alongside over 20 governments who are committed to advancing key actions and initiatives and taking action to halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030.
We are equally committed to harnessing the power of ocean-based climate solutions that often offer co-benefits for biodiversity and local communities. Unfortunately, many of these solutions – like mangrove restoration – are overlooked due to high upfront costs that don’t consider co-benefits – such as biodiversity recovery, flood protection, and food security.
The United States is pleased to be galvanizing more ambitious action for protecting our marine resources through our Ocean Conservation Pledge, which commits countries to conserve or protect at least 30% of ocean waters under their jurisdiction by 2030. This effort complements the action that needs to be taken in the high seas and the Antarctic region, in order to conserve and protect at least 30% of the global ocean.
I hope these actions, and our discussion today, can serve as a reminder that we need to make Nature-based solutions more second nature.