WWF Oceans Practice Statement on Outcome of COP26

Posted on November, 14 2021

We are moving in the right direction, says WWF.
The decision text released at the conclusion of COP26 represents an important step forward in recognizing the role of nature, and the ocean specifically, in addressing the climate crisis. The science is clear: There is no viable route to limiting global warming to 1.5°C without nature.

Protecting, conserving and restoring ocean ecosystems, including mangroves, salt marshes, coral reefs, seagrass beds and kelp forests, supports delivery of crucial services such as carbon sequestration, reducing vulnerability to storms and flooding, and supporting sustainable livelihoods, including for indigenous peoples and local communities.  

The call for an annual dialogue to strengthen ocean-based mitigation and adaptation action, and to integrate ocean-based action in existing mandates and workplans of the UNFCCC are also important advancements. These are a recognition of the effects of climate change on the ocean and the role ocean-based solutions can play in addressing the climate crisis.

The rising tide of support for integrating ocean action into the UNFCCC and in the official outcome of COP26 can be credited to a broad coalition of ocean champions representing the public and private sectors, non-profit, scientific, youth and civil society groups. WWF is proud to be part of this movement to carry the message that a healthy and resilient ocean is critical to achieving the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement. Just as the ocean is essential to a functioning climate, so it must be to the workings of the UNFCCC. 

We are pleased that an annual ocean-climate dialogue will now be a fundamental component of future COPs. The hard work to turn talk into action lies ahead; the ocean-climate dialogue will be an important tool to build ambition and ensure ongoing integration. Priority actions should strengthen the mitigation, adaptation and resilience potential of the ocean, as well as dependent communities and economies, through nature-based solutions and measures that are biodiversity-positive and can deliver net-zero outcomes.

The wave of support for ocean action and ambition was also demonstrated through a number of high-level commitments and announcements. 
  • The Ocean for Climate Declaration has over 100 signatories calling for governments to include ocean conservation initiatives within their formal emissions reductions commitments. 
  • The third Because the Ocean Declaration, which has been signed by 16 countries to date, called on countries to integrate ocean-climate-biodiversity linkages in their plans to implement the Paris Agreement, and to recognize the need for more ambition on all sides to tackle climate change and protect the ocean. 
  • US$145 million is going to the Global Funds for Coral Reefs, including US$125 million from the UN’s Green Climate Fund. This will help small island states protect and restore coral reefs, build coastal resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 
  • US$356 million in new pledges announced at COP26 for concrete actions to support the most vulnerable.
  • At least $20 million in commitments were made at the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance roundtable to drive health and resilience of the ocean and climate vulnerable communities. This vital investment and cross-sector collaboration will support nature-based solutions and coastal communities. WWF is an ORRAA partner.
  • The Great Blue Wall initiative was launched by Western Indian Ocean states, IUCN and partners to conserve and restore marine and coastal biodiversity, while building the resilience of coastal communities and unlocking the development of a regenerative blue economy that benefits at least 70 million people. 
  • Fiji announced its plan to issue a sovereign blue bond in 2022 intended to raise up to $100 million for investments to deliver a resilient sustainable blue economy, create jobs and protect Fiji’s ocean and biodiversity, and called for urgent investment in coral reef conservation as part of delivering ocean-climate solutions in support of people and nature.
  • WWF, The Nature Conservancy and Belize have pledged to develop the first-ever full coastal-marine project finance initiative for permanence (PFP) to further protection and sustainable management of Belize’s coastal-marine ecosystems. The PFP will also aid Belize in helping to meet its climate and nature goals.
This is just a sample of the commitments made to restore and protect ocean health for the benefit of people, nature and climate. WWF will continue working in partnership to support countries, companies and others as they deliver on the promises made.
© Antonio Busiello / WWF-US