Biodiversity can be a potent climate adaptation tool: SA Official

By RTCC Staff

Biodiversity can play a crucial role in climate change adaptation but the value of healthy ecosystems must first be appreciated, according to Jones Muleso Kharika, Director of resource use at the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

The economic benefits of investing in biodiversity are not well known and the first step to using it as a climate adaptation tool is to understand that value so projects can be financed.

“We must put a case to the Minister of Finance on the value of biodiversity, of soils, of land,” Khakira told RTCC: “His team must be part of what is going on. That’s why we always bring a diverse delegation to the UN summits, so everyone is singing from the same hymn book.

“We need biodiversity as an adaptation strategy for climate change. It is an issue of ecosystem resilience. It’s about food security. We think in South Africa that you cannot implement one UN convention [such as the Convention on Biodiversity, the CBD] without aligning those efforts to the other, like the climate change convention (UNFCCC).”

Khakira also said he refused to accept that some of the targets set by the respective conventions and their sister organisation tackling desertification, were too ambitious.

“It’s not dangerous to be over ambitious. This is a global issue and we’re on the edge of the tipping point with biodiversity,” he said.

“It’s not bad to be ambitious and it’s not bad to have commensurate resources to meet those targets,” he suggested in a nod to heated negotiations on finance at both the CBD and the UNFCCC.

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