WWF highlights urgent need for integrated strategies to tackle ocean and climate crises

Posted on June, 08 2021

Issued on World Ocean Day, WWF’s new “Blueprint for a Living Planet” offers four principles to guide integrated ocean and climate action to strengthen the mitigation, adaptation and resilience potential of marine and coastal ecosystems – and everything and everyone that depends on them.
The four principles are:
  1. Raise ambition and urgently deliver stronger and sustained mitigation and adaptation actions
  2. Make nature a key part of the solution
  3. Put people at the centre
  4. Join up the climate and ocean finance agendas
The ocean has, for too long, been largely absent from global discussions on climate change. This is beginning to change, with the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and other research clearly demonstrating the urgent need to tackle the crises facing the climate and ocean together. 

The ocean plays a critical role in mitigation, adaptation and resilience building – from the “blue carbon” sequestered in habitats like mangroves, seagrass beds and kelp forests, to the protection that ecosystems like coral reefs provide against storm surges and other climate change impacts. 

Yet while the ocean holds myriad solutions, it is suffering from increasing climate change impacts. These impacts create a feedback loop, undermining the ocean’s abilities to cope with the onslaught of emissions and mismanagement. Addressing the combined crises requires integrated ocean and climate approaches.

“The Blueprint is fundamentally about expanding options and opportunities to meet the objectives laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among others. It rejects the false premise that ‘ocean solutions’ would be created at the expense of ‘climate solutions,’ and embraces the reality that many of the climate solutions we need come from nature,” says John Tanzer, WWF’s Global Ocean Lead.
In addition to calling for greater ambition and urgency, and emphasizing nature-based solutions, the Blueprint also highlights the role of coastal communities. 

“Putting people at the centre is absolutely fundamental to WWF’s ocean strategy. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Conservation strategies are more effective and sustainable when they are owned and led by coastal communities who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and food,” says Tanzer.  

The Blueprint calls for links to be made between ocean and climate financing. Climate finance still falls far short of what is needed to keep global warming within 1.5°C – and only a tiny fraction of this goes to nature-positive ocean-climate solutions.

“We need more public, private and blended sources of finance, and we need to invest smarter – getting more impact from every dollar. Ocean-climate solutions provide incredible value for money: when we restore mangroves, for example, we’re drawing down carbon, protecting biodiversity, coastlines, and building food security and jobs. That’s an impressive triple bottom line return,” says Tanzer.
Blueprint for a Living Planet: Four Principles for Integrated Ocean-Climate Strategies. WWF International
© Rex Lu / WWF