By Student Delegate Heidi Johnson
Blue carbon financing is an essential step in the path toward a net-zero future. Climate finance aims to support mitigation and adaptation measures that address adverse climate change effects. This financing draws from public and private sources at the local, national, and transnational levels. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or the Convention) rely on these large-scale investments to mitigate climate change (by reducing emissions) and adapt to climate change (by developing climate-resilient pathways).
Parties’ capacity to finance innovative climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies vary. Hence, the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement call on developed country Parties with more significant financial resources to financially assist vulnerable developing country Parties with fewer resources. These agreements also provide that developed country Parties should lead climate finance mobilizing through varying sources. By doing so, Parties recognize their “common but differentiated responsibilities” and collaboratively implement UNFCCC objectives.
To facilitate climate financing, the Convention established a financial mechanism for providing resources to developing country Parties. The Paris Agreement further emphasizes the need to achieve financing goals, encouraging other Parties to make voluntary contributions. It also provides for a global stocktake to assess progress in support mobilization. Under the Paris Agreement, financial support should be transparent and predictable.
In addition, private and public financers have the economic resources to support blue carbon management and protection measures. For instance, these financers can provide funding or invest in sustainable business models. By doing so, financers would enable climate action in a way that mitigates climate risks and captures opportunities. Resulting climate action can be innovative and advantageous to the financers and to developing country Parties.
Recently, more than half of the Parties to the Convention recognized the inherent ocean-climate nexus in their NDCs. For instance, 57 percent of Parties observed the importance of protecting blue carbon, and 47 percent of Parties noted the need to enhance ecosystem-based adaptation. One such Party was the Seychelles. In its NDC, Seychelles notes that it is exceedingly vulnerable to climate change effects and risks as a Small Island Developing State. Consequently, Seychelles’ NDC dedicates a chapter to ocean climate action and blue carbon nature-based solutions. In that chapter, Seychelles commits “to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with external support.”
Seychelles’ NDC further specifies key contributions it will make to fulfill this commitment. For instance, Seychelles intends to locally and nationally regulate coastal planning and infrastructure to prioritize nature-based solutions. Seychelles also plans to establish a blue carbon monitoring program and implement its Marine Spatial Plan to manage its marine protected areas. If successful, these contributions can aid Seychelles in attaining net-zero by 2050 through natural climate solutions. But the caveat in Seychelles’ commitment (“with external support”) denotes its need for climate financing.
The Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) highlights that Seychelles will need to fill knowledge gaps relating to blue carbon ecosystems to achieve these goals. Filling these gaps to outline potential opportunities will require blue carbon financing mechanisms. As such, SeyCCAT is currently exploring blue carbon financing opportunities that will support long-term blue carbon ecosystem monitoring plans.
Pursuant to the Convention, developed country Parties should provide financial resources to developing country Parties seeking to achieve their blue carbon commitments. This support should remain transparent and predictable so that these parties can make consistent progress. Parties failing to provide these resources should be held accountable for the lack of progress during the upcoming global stocktake. Additionally, private financers should take advantage of the opportunity to fund and invest in innovative blue carbon markets. Private and public financers should lead the way to a net-zero future by financing blue carbon.