A new international network is being created to help vulnerable societies and ecosystems adjust to the impacts of climate change.
Founded with a $2 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network (ELAN) will take a targeted, localized approach to climate adaptation, focusing initially on the developing world, where climate impacts are generally more acute and response capacity is more limited compared with the developed world.
ELAN, will be a collaboration between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and WWF international. It aims to connect scientific researchers with resource managers and local and regional decision-makers to ensure ecosystem-based management approaches benefit from the latest science, and practical experiences.
“Well-managed ecosystems provide a valuable resource in helping people adapt to climate change, such as regulating water flows during periods of heavy rain or coastal storms,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “However, these values are all too often disregarded in climate adaptation strategies.
“If we are to meet the growing challenge of adapting to the world’s changing climate, we need to recognize and value the importance of this natural infrastructure,” adds Marton-Lefèvre. “Maintaining healthy ecosystems can often provide a cost-effective alternative to other investments in natural hazard defenses, and ecosystems also provide additional benefits to local communities.”
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF. “Make no mistake: mitigation efforts to reduce emissions are vital if we are to keep climate change from surpassing a dangerous and rapidly approaching threshold. But the fact is, the effects of climate disruption are already upon us and are growing rapidly. While curbing emissions, we must also prepare for and respond to the impacts--we must adapt.”
A key feature of ELAN will be its ability to link various adaptation and ecosystem management networks and serve as platform for sharing information globally. This decentralized approach will leverage existing climate adaptation efforts being undertaken by various institutions and consortia.
“The scale and urgency of climate change demands global cooperation and innovation to help animal and human populations adapt to our changing planet,” says Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Mitigation is a necessary but insufficient response. We can no longer afford to dismiss adaptation as ‘giving in’ or worry that it will reduce incentives for addressing the root causes of climate changes. This creative new network will nurture the emerging field of adaptation science, helping to build knowledge and catalyze new ideas.”
To ensure sustained funding for adaptation projects, ELAN will engage the support of major multilateral financing bodies, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which manages a climate change adaptation fund.
The ELAN concept was developed through collaborations between WWF and IUCN. The MacArthur funding will enable the two organizations to expand the consortium of participating institutions, and to establish ELAN as an effective network to face the adaptation challenge.