Coastal blue carbon ecosystems, including mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes, provide a wide range of ecosystem benefits vital to coastal and island life across the world. Such benefits include naturally buffering shorelines from storms and sea-level rise, filtering and improving water quality, storing and sequestering atmospheric carbon, providing nursery and essential habitat for fish, and supporting marine biodiversity. Coastal communities are also tied culturally and economically to the health of these ecosystems. Alarmingly, UNEP-WCMC and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat have reported that the global extent of natural wetlands has declined by 30 per cent between 1970 and 2008.
Blue carbon projects aim to harness the carbon value of coastal ecosystems in order to achieve goals in conservation and climate change. Interest in developing blue carbon projects is rapidly increasing, exemplified though the 28 countries that have recently included coastal ecosystems in climate change mitigation strategies in their Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and international initiatives such as the UN Environment Blue Forests Project and International Partnership on Blue Carbon.
However, terrestrial forest carbon projects have suffered criticism from negative socio-ecological consequences for communities, and a need has appeared to ensure that communities are included in a socially just manner during the development of blue carbon projects.
Together, with our growing global blue carbon community, we will strive to create fair, socially just and accountable blue carbon projects. Such efforts will help reduce risk and ensure the sustainability of project outcomes. In the development and advancing of blue carbon projects, where possible, we commit to support and embrace the code of conduct for marine conservation advanced in Bennett et. al. 2017 (available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2017.03.035).
For full text and partners list please see: http://news.gefblueforests.org/blue-carbon-code-of-conduct.