© Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn

A Breakthrough Moment for Mangroves

Delivering Global Action on Mangrove Restoration and Protection

Dubai, UAE, 10th, December, 2023: COP28 made significant progress towards securing the Mangrove Breakthrough’s goal of 15 million hectares of mangroves underpinned by USD 4 billion of new investments by 2030.

Global mangrove protection and restoration has secured significant support of over 40 new governments via the Mangrove Breakthrough leading to and at the UNFCCC Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai.(1) Ministers, indigenous peoples and local community organizations, financial institutions, philanthropies, NGOs, and other stakeholders presented progress and ambitious commitments on policy, finance, and technology to deliver the Breakthrough. They also agreed on options to collectively measure implementation and ensure responsiveness to gaps and opportunities in the spirit of the Global Stocktake.

COP28’s Nature, Land Use and Ocean Day saw countries and non-state actors make commitments on mangrove conservation and restoration of 15 million hectares of mangroves by 2030 with a goal of reaching USD 4 billion of sustainable finance. The event saw a formal partnership announced between the Mangrove Alliance for Climate and the Mangrove Breakthrough. This will mean 49 governments (representing around 60% of the world’s mangroves) as well as over 50 non-state actors are supporting the Mangrove Breakthrough targets to halt mangrove destruction by 2030.(2)

H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 & IUCN President, recognized the significance of the high level, cross-sector convening, and shared the following:

“By convening such a diverse group of stakeholders between the Global Mangrove Alliance and the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, under the shared vision and science-based targets of the Mangrove Breakthrough, today’s event represents a global milestone in mangrove conservation. Achieving the goals of the Mangrove Breakthrough will catalyse policy changes and financial investments necessary to meet biodiversity and climate targets.

During this Ministerial event, the Belize Minister also announced the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Coalition for Nature’s launch of the “SIDS Nature-Climate Action Roadmap”. The Minister stated that upon availability of technical and financial resources, this Roadmap can facilitate the implementation of nature-based solutions across more than 2.6 million hectares in at least 33 marine protected areas and would include the restoration of over 72,000 hectares of mangroves. The proposed areas of implementation are spread across at least 13 SIDS in the 3 SIDS regions.

Political momentum has never been higher to realize mangroves’ massive potential as a carbon sink (mangroves can sequester 4x as much atmospheric carbon as rainforests), protect coastlines, provide habitats, and support local livelihoods. This ministerial and non-state actor-led event brought together the major partnerships and initiatives behind the Mangrove Breakthrough – leveraging mangroves’ unique role in accelerating the delivery of both the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This event featured new and impactful policies, technologies, and investments from a wide range of public and private leaders that will support mangroves towards adaptation, mitigation, health, and development outcomes.

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment addressed the milestone and said:

“Mangroves are the unsung heroes in our fight against climate change. They are the sentinels of our coasts and the guardians of our marine biodiversity. The UAE recognizes the immense value of mangroves. Our ambitious goal to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030 is a testament to this recognition.”

The Bezos Earth Fund announced a two-year, USD 2 million grant to the Global Mangrove Alliance, via Wetlands International, to support design and delivery of the  Mangrove Breakthrough. This grant supports coalition-building of technical, political, and financial partners, the design of regional investment strategies, and curation of a pipeline of locally led mangrove restoration and conservation projects in 3 countries. Oliver Wyman donated USD 100,000 to support the establishment of the Mangrove Breakthrough Secretariat.

Nature, Land Use, and Oceans Day at COP28 also saw Germany, Norway and the UK announce funding to address the drastic underfunding of mangrove protection – and to deliver on its game-changing potential. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will boost support for global mangrove protection with the announcement of two mangrove conservation and coastal management projects in Dominica and Mozambique. These grants of USD 1.3 million are being launched, for which the UNEP are matching with USD 440,000 to support the preparation of two coastal management and mangrove conservation protects on Dominica and Mozambique totaling over USD 60 million from the Green Climate Fund. This announcement on GCF project preparation support was made by Hong Paterson, GCF Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, during our COP38 ‘Mangrove Ministerial’ event.

Alongside these philanthropic contributions, there has been significant contributions and announcements being brought forward by governments. The UK announced £72.5 million (USD 91 million) in new programs from its flagship Blue Planet Fund, some of which will be deployed to support the targets under the Mangrove Breakthrough.

Cristián Samper, Managing Director and Leader for Nature Solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund, identifying the role of mangroves in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises, said:

“Mangroves cover just 0.1% of the Earth’s surface but punch far above their weight. They provide a triple-win for people, nature, and climate and play an outsized role in fighting our global biodiversity crisis. The Mangrove Breakthrough is a clarion call to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves worldwide by 2030. We are pleased to partner in this effort—beginning with the vital work to connect locally led mangrove projects with funding to grow, replicate, and scale their work.”

Securing the future of the mangroves that remain requires this urgent collective action. The Mangrove Breakthrough aims to create a global movement to drive policy change and capital flow to deliver on biodiversity and climate targets. This never before seen convening aimed to mobilize new partners and resources needed to achieve the Mangrove Breakthrough, provide greater political visibility on the investment returns from mangrove ecosystems, while also sharing best practices in mangrove protection and restoration, with a focus on leadership by local and Indigenous communities. Throughout this cross-sector ‘Mangrove Moment’ during COP28’s Ocean Day, there was a clear focus on highlighting innovative and effective technology to protect and restore mangroves while also supporting measurements and tracking of implementation.

Han de Groot, CEO, Wetlands International, recognizing the growing ambition around mangrove conservation and protection, stated that

“The Mangrove Breakthrough has come a long way since COP27. We are honoured to be part of shepherding it to what it is today: a robust, scientifically and financially achievable pathway to scaled-up mangrove protection and restoration, now with the gravity of nations and the private sector behind it. COP28 has created momentum for these powerhouse ecosystems, and with that, increased coastal protection and sustainable livelihoods for millions of people while creating the conditions to grow the most effective carbon sinks we have. We look forward to more endorsements, because now more than ever, we need to keep the momentum going.”

Mangrove forests exist in over 100 countries, they are critical coastal ecosystems and are proven Nature-Based Solutions for both adaptation and mitigation. They sequester in many cases 4 times as much atmospheric carbon as rainforests and are known for fostering incredible biodiversity, enhancing coastal resilience, and supporting local livelihoods. At the same time, mangrove restoration and protection are drastically underfunded compared to the returns on investment, receiving only ~1% of climate finance.

Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, one of the founding civil society organisations to the Global Mangrove Alliance believes

“As one of the world’s most important ecosystems, Mangroves not only help protect coast lines, they provide critical resources for local communities and their livelihoods. The Mangrove Breakthrough and today’s announcement signal the importance of protecting biodiversity, investing in nature and ensuring that we develop, restore and protect these incredible carbon sinks around the world.”

The Mangrove Breakthrough was launched in Egypt at COP27 last year by the UN High-Level Climate Champions and the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA), which is made up of over 60  Environment Non-Governmental Organisations and Knowledge Institutions. The Mangrove Alliance for Climate, founded by Indonesia and the UAE and launched at COP27, convenes government partners for capacity-building and best-practice-sharing, complementing the Mangrove Breakthrough, spearheaded by the UN High Level Climate Champions and the Global Mangrove Alliance.

Patricia Zurita, Conservation International Chief Strategy Officer, also one of the five founding civil society organizations to the Global Mangrove Alliance shared her remarks for the shared global ambitions brought forward at COP28:

“Climate change is a global crisis that goes hand in hand with nature loss. The Mangrove Breakthrough is an example of the type of partnership and ambition that is needed to meet the scale of the challenge. Mangroves have been front and center at COP28 where they are finally being widely recognized as carbon storage powerhouses and natural climate solutions that truly benefit local communities. The investments announced through the Mangrove Breakthrough help catalyze this momentum and will support the protection and conservation of these ecosystems for climate, nature and people.”

The event truly united governments and non-state actors around the Mangrove Breakthrough, with ministers presenting ambitious commitments, and announcements of progress on existing initiatives by their governments, and civil society partners from the Global Mangrove Alliance creating space to announce new partnerships for finance, science, and collaboration.


Notes for Editors:

1) The list of national and subnational endorsers to the Mangrove Breakthrough: The governments of Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barranquilla, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Quintana Roo, Rio de Janeiro, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yucatán

2) For more information about the current state of the world’s mangroves see here.

3) For more information about the Global Mangrove Alliance national chapters see here.