WCS FOCUS: Biodiversity loss and the  climate crisis are inextricably linked. 

NEW YORK(October 15, 2021) – The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change  (CoP26, ukcop 26) takes place in Glasgow from Oct. 31st through November 12, 2021. WCS is sending a small delegation to CoP26 and will be supporting policies that focus on adequately addressing the climate crisis in the critical decade ahead, particularly in the context of biodiversity. A primary imperative is drastic reductions in fossil fuel emissions during this decade (and their elimination by 2050), consistent with its core mission, and the critical importance of natural ecosystems, especially forests, for reducing carbon emissions, removing carbon from the atmosphere, and regulating global and regional climate regimes. These “natural climate solutions” or “nature-based solutions” also protect biodiversity and align with ongoing biodiversity negotiations, including 30x30 – the effort to protect and conserve at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030—and efforts to protect and retain intact ecosystems (forests, coral reefs, and others).  


WCS will use the opportunity of this strategically important COP to mobilize enhanced ambition on climate finance for forests, particularly the conservation of Intact Forests as an essential nature-based solution. Through events, meetings, and communication strategies that we are both leading and delivering with core partners, we aim to advance a policy agenda that expands and strengthens incentives for the protection of forests and other key ecosystems at multiple scales.

Things to watch:

  • Will countries commit to end deforestation by 2030?
  • Will there be completion of rules governing global carbon markets (Article 6 of the Paris Agreement)?
  • Will countries step up climate ambition enough to maintain the possibility of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees C? 

WCS delegates attending:

  • Cristián Samper, President and CEO - Links between biodiversity and climate crises, 30x30
  • Daniel Zarin, Executive Director, Forests and Climate Change - Forest and climate science, policy and finance; drivers of deforestation; voluntary/compliance carbon markets
  • Todd Stevens, Executive Director, Markets - REDD+, carbon markets
  • Sandy Andelman, Vice President, Conservation Strategy and Partnerships
  • Tom Evans, Lead, Intact Forests - Forest Landscape Integrity Index, Intact Forests, forest science
  • Matthew Leggett, Associate Director, Sustainable Commodities and Private Sector Engagement - commodity-driven deforestation, sustainable supply chains
  • Justina Ray(virtual), President and Senior Scientist, WCS Canada - boreal forests, working with Indigenous Peoples and local communities on forest protection
  • Simon Cripps, Executive Director of WCS’s Marine Program
  • Stephanie Wang, Senior Program Manager, Forests and Climate Change program


Key WCS Events:

  • Emerging policy approaches for intact forest conservation/November 6, 17:00-18:15, livestreamed @Nature’s Newsroom–This event will feature a conversation between WCS President and CEO, Cristián Samper, and Tuntiak Katan, General Coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, vice-coordinator of COICA and a member of the Shuar People. They will discuss (Indigenous perspectives on Intact Forests and climate change. Also at this event, the Forests for Life partnership will present their new proposed finance mechanisms and policy approaches intended to lead to substantial, predictable support for conservation of the world’s remaining Intact Forests, as an indispensable natural climate solution.
  • Framing our Future Campaign/WCS is launching Framing Our Future – a campaign to educate and inspire the public to advocate for nature-based solutions in climate change policy and individual action through the power of the AZA network of 240 U.S. zoos and aquariums with a reach of 183 million annual visitors. This campaign will be announced by WCS President and CEO, Cristián Samper at the Nature Zone Pavilion (time and date TBD). 
  • 5 Great Forests for Mesoamerica, a regional initiative for climate, biodiversity, and people/November 3 (11-12:30 at GEF/GCF Pavilion, 15:45-17:00 at EUROCLIMA+ Pavilion) At a series of events, WCS and partners will present the progress of an initiative to conserve the 5 Great Forests of Mesoamerica and address the greatest threat to the region - illegal cattle ranching. Governments will commit to harmonize economic incentives in their countries to promote forest conservation and develop new economic models based on alternatives to livestock, and will call for international support to achieve these common objectives. 
  • Canada’s Peatlands (virtual)/November 8 (18:30) The world’s northern peatlands provide a global carbon service, cooling the climate by taking carbon from the atmosphere and storing it for thousands of years. One-quarter of these are in Canada, where policies, financial incentives, and accounting and reporting are inadequate to avoid the conversion and degradation of this irrecoverable carbon from pending land use change. President of WCS Canada, Justina Ray, will highlight the Hudson Bay Lowlands -- a homeland of Indigenous peoples and the world’s second largest peatland complex -- as a critical part of nature-based solutions to combat climate change.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation through coastal ecosystems conservation and restoration/November 3, EU UNFCCCSide Event, EU Pavilion (14:30)Science has identified a portfolio of coral reefs that can be managed to survive climate change.WCS Executive Director for Marine Programs Simon Cripps will discuss how a holistic approach is needed to restore the health of the whole coastal ecosystem, including mangroves, seagrass meadows, and fisheries, in which the coral reefs are an important part and provide ecosystem services to millions of people. The 30x30 initiative is a valuable addition to a climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy as it offers an opportunity to address the major threats to coastal ecosystems, thus reducing stresses allowing them to better survive climate change. A holistic approach, both driven by the 30x30 initiative and delivering on the initiative’s goals includes poverty alleviation, sustainable food and livelihood provision, support for healthy people and nature, as well as direct environmental interventions such as through fisheries management. Supporting policy and governance frameworks integrated across different coastal ecosystems are required if coastal systems are to survive and mitigate against a changing climate.

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