Carbon, biodiversity & ecosystem services:
exploring co-benefits

Policy context

Increasing concern about climate change and its impacts has placed the management of carbon in ecosystems high on political agendas, including at the world's largest forum for discussion of carbon management rules and modalities for climate change mitigation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, having been adopted in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The UNFCCC is one of three conventions to have arisen directly from the 1992 Earth Summit; the second being the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the third being the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Together, these conventions are more commonly known as the "Rio Conventions."

For an overview of issues under the UNFCCC where co-benefits are particularly relevant, click here.

Consideration of co-benefits in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation could help bring the agendas of the three Rio Conventions closer together. This is a necessary step in ensuring that nations' actions under the UNFCCC do not undermine their capacities to implement the objectives of the other conventions. The Joint Liaison Group (JLP) between the secretariats of the three Rio Conventions was established in 2001 to serve as an informal information sharing forum and to foster synergies. For more information on how the CBD and UNCCD incorporate considerations relating to the agendas of the other Rio Conventions, click on the links below:

2010 marks a unique year for the Rio Conventions, as it coincides with the target year to achieve a “significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level” committed to by the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in 2002. For this reason, 2010 has also been designated as the International Year of Biodiversity. As action on the Rio Conventions moves forward, stronger cohesion between the Conventions could support the achievement of targets for carbon, as well as for biodiversity, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.

REDD-plus mechanisms are policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (Bali Action Plan).