Climate Change and Biodiversity


There is ample evidence that climate change affects biodiversity. Continued climate change is having predominantly adverse and often irreversible impacts on many ecosystems and their services, with significant negative social, cultural and economic consequences.

However, the links between biodiversity and climate change flow both ways. Conserving natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and restoring degraded ecosystems (including their genetic and species diversity) is essential for the overall goals of both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change because ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle and in adapting to climate change, while also providing a wide range of ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation, which integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.

Examples of ecosystem-based adaptation activities include:
  • Coastal defence through the maintenance and/or restoration of mangroves and other coastal wetlands to reduce coastal flooding and coastal erosion.
  • Sustainable management of upland wetlands and floodplains for maintenance of water flow and quality.
  • Conservation and restoration of forests to stabilize land slopes and regulate water flows.
  • Establishment of diverse agroforestry systems to cope with increased risk from changed climatic conditions.
  • Conservation of agrobiodiversity to provide specific gene pools for crop and livestock adaptation to climate change.

In addition, sustainable land use management activities such as the protection of natural forest and peatland carbon stocks, the use of native assemblages of forest species in reforestation activities, restoration of degraded wetlands and sustainable agricultural practices, together with stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel, are an important component of climate change mitigation.