Study highlights need for adaptation funding to be increased and targetted at specific regions
By Ed King
Ten specific regions vital for food security and biodiversity should be targetted for climate adaptation funding, a new report recommends.
The authors say areas in Central America, the Caribbean, South East Asia and Madagascar should be the focus of donor efforts, because of their agricultural and ecological importance.
Given support for projects aimed at helping countries adapt to climate change is limited, they say funds should be directed towards areas where ‘multiple benefits’ can be secured.
“Our results show that food production and ecosystem integrity are jointly vulnerable in ten world regions,” the report, published in the PLOS ONE journal, says.
“Because global political progress on climate change mitigation is evolving slowly at present, it is probable that adaptation actions in these regions will be the only means of averting the kind of damage to human and natural systems that the world has committed to avoid in the climate convention.”
Developed countries delivered $30 billion of climate finance between 2010-2012, but despite a number of countries pledging more support, those flows have slowed. Adaptation accounted for around 12% of the total.
According to researchers, the ten areas [see map at top] “intersect” global biodiversity hotspots and make up 8.9 % of the world’s arable land, 9.3% of the world’s habitable lands and 10.6% of remaining natural habitats.
The regions are also home to nearly 70% of the world’s bird species, and are home to over 10% of the world population living in poverty.
The study is likely to prove controversial with Pacific Island and Arctic communities, often described as being on the frontline of global warming.
They, along with low lying countries like Bangladesh, are already suffering from melting sea ice and rising sea levels, but are not designated as ‘priority areas’ in the report.
Lead author Lee Hannah told RTCC the study is not designed to draw support away from the Arctic or Pacific. Rather, he says its aim is to help policymakers identify where else they can invest.
“Across most of the rest of the world, everything that’s significantly above sea level, we didn’t have any way to distinguish whether there were places better for first investments or not,” he said.
“I see this as additionally rather than competing with something else.”
According to the FAO, some developing countries can expect a drop of 20-40% in agricultural productivity as a result of climate change.
The links between biodiversity and food security are becoming increasingly clear. For instance, coffee growers often cultivate forests to encourage native pollinators to operate.
“I think we have solid examples of the inter-linkages between the two,” Hannah said, adding: “We also know that shade coffee is good for biodiversity. If you have canopy trees that provide habitats for birds and wildlife, at the same time coffee might be grown.
“If we can figure it out in these areas where we know food security and biodiversity are changing together then that’s going to yield insights that can be applied all round the world, and will help us to feed the world’s poor and protect rare species.”
Ten regions to target:
Central America – Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua (Hotspots: Mesoamerica; Madrean pine-oak woodlands)
Caribbean – Jamaica, Haiti, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela (Hotspots: Caribbean Islands)
Andes (South America) – Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru (Hotspots: Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena / Tropical Andes)
Guiana Highlands – Venezuela (Hotspot: Tropical Andes)
Atlantic Coast of Brazil (South America) – Brazil (Hotspot: Atlantic Forest)
Albertine Rift – Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda (Hotspot: Eastern Afromontane)
Madagascar – Madagascar (Hotspot: Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands)
Ghats – India (Hotspots: Western Ghats, Sri Lanka)
Philippines – Philippines (Hotspot: Philippines)
Java – Indonesia (Hotspot: Wallacea)