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Event at GEF Assembly Will Bring Mangroves to the Forefront

How the Global Environment Facility will set the stage for a serious discussion on mangroves and how these ecosystems can advance SDG 14

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“National governments have a lead role to play in zeroing in on solutions that bring the role of mangroves to the forefront"

Mangroves have a vital role to play in keeping people fed, safe and employed. These forests on the edge of the ocean are also contributors to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

A recent poll of leaders from developing countries ranked the UN Sustainable Development Goal on oceans as the lowest priority of all 17 goals, even though SDG 14 has the highest number of voluntary commitments.

Given the prominent role of healthy mangrove ecosystems around the world, it will take action from industry, governments and other institutions. The sixth assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Da Nang, Vietnam provides a moment when all of these actors have a chance to see how mangroves are an integral part of a “ rescue package for the ocean… from decline to recovery.”

“Mangroves are perhaps the most important ecosystem on the plant,” said Dr. Jennifer Howard, Conservation International’s marine climate director. “They provide unparalleled ecosystem services related to climate mitgation, adaptation, sustainable source of healthy protein, and livelihoods just to name a few. Conserving and restoring them is critical for human well-being.”

GEF serves as a unique partnership of 18 agencies, working with 183 countries to address the world’s most challenging environmental issues. It also acts as a financial mechanism for five major international environmental conventions; it has provided over $20 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $88 billion in financing for more than 4,000 projects in 170 countries. Finally, GEF remains an innovator and catalyst that supports multi-stakeholder alliances to preserve threated ecosystems, such as the GMA.

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The GMA will host a side event at the GEF assembly, Tuesday, June 26th, in the form of a panel discussion, to help make the case for increasing coordination, financing, and action on mangroves. Lauren Spurrier , lead organizer for the event, elaborates, “National governments have a lead role to play in zeroing in on solutions that bring the role of mangroves to the forefront, and in helping to identify gaps and opportunities in funding and technical support. National governments also provide fundamental leadership on mangrove conservation and restoration at a local, national and regional level.”

The GMA is working to shift priorities at the regional, national, and international levels to include mangroves

The audience will be polled before and after the session to determine changed understanding and attitudes towards the threats and challenges that mangroves face, as well as how they are and should be prioritized. This kind of conversation on a global stage is necessary for the targets for SDG 14 to be realized, specifically:

14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.

14.5 By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.

Though mangroves aren’t mentioned by name in either the SDG 14 targets nor its indicators, it is clear to those in the conservation space that without serious and focused efforts to salvage these ecosystems, many other SDGs- such as zero hunger, sustainable cities and communities, and no poverty- will never be able to reach their targets. The GMA is working to shift priorities at the regional, national, and international levels to include mangroves in stakeholder policies to deliver on the SDGs and via their own indicators. The event with GEF is an important first step.