Recommendations to Policy Makers adopted by the participants to the Biodiversity and Climate Change Meeting, Brussels, 21-22 May 2007.
Taking into account the findings of the Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as outlined in its Fourth Assessment Report, it is clear that:
- Observational evidence from a variety of ecosystems on different continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases
- A global assessment of data since 1970 has shown it is likely that anthropogenic warming has had and is still going to have a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems
- Other effects of regional climate changes on natural and human environments are emerging, although many are difficult to discern due to adaptation and non-climatic drivers
- Many impacts can be avoided, reduced or delayed by mitigation
- Adaptation will be necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming which is already unavoidable due to past emissions
(from: IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report, Summary to Policy Makers, April 2007)
In the face of the projected threats, which are clearly and unequivocally recognized by scientists, policy makers have the responsibility to anticipate and organize scientifically sound mitigation and adaptation measures, adopting an ecologically and economically effective precautionary approach (e.g., see the Stern report). Possible mitigation and adaptation measures are proposed in the IPCC WG2 and 3 SPMs.
Recommendations for research and knowledge transfer
To support and evaluate actions, the participants of the “Biodiversity and Climate Change” meeting recommend that funding bodies, institutions and researchers address the gaps in knowledge as identified in the recommendations of the European Platform on Biodiversity Research Strategy, as adopted at its 2005 meeting under the UK Presidency of the EU, and the recommendations in the upcoming IPCC WG2 and WG3 Technical Summaries.
Considering the interests as expressed in the consultation of sector representatives organized by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform and taking into account the scientific expertise of Belgian researchers, the participants of this meeting recommend the following research priorities:
The problem of scale
- Most climate change and impact scenarios are relevant on a global or continental scale. Studies are needed that enable scaling down these projections to a regional and local level of interest to Belgium, and that enable prediction of biodiversity change following climate change and extreme events affecting these spatial levels.
Interaction between Climate Change and Biodiversity
- More research is needed to improve our understanding of the effects of climate change on biodiversity and its components, and on ecosystem functioning, especially taking into account the interaction between climate change and multiple other factors such as habitat fragmentation, biological invasions, pollution, and overexploitation.
- Conversely, there is need to improve our knowledge on the effect of biodiversity and its components, on climate change, either mitigating (e.g., ecosystem service of carbon sink or of local climate regulator), or exacerbating (e.g., release of greenhouse gas by livestock or from wetlands).
Monitoring of change in populations, species and ecosystems
- Monitoring efforts to track range shifts of species and changes in status of populations should be continued and reinforced, to develop vulnerability assessments including genetic characterization of isolated and threatened populations of umbrella, flagship or keystone species; our understanding of the ecology, including their ability to adapt and/or migrate, of species should improve to assess their vulnerability.
- The distribution and impact of non-native invasive species, , and the effect of climate change on their success, need to be further evaluated.
Adjustment of management and policy to change
- Methods should be developed to review and adjust management of natural resources and current policies in the light of likely climate change impacts and the role of ecological networks for adaptation.
- Robust indicators of climate change impacts on biodiversity are to be developed and tested, as well as methodologies to reassess and define appropriate management units matching the ecological processes operating at the relevant geographical scales.
- Mitigation and adaptation to change can only be successfully achieved through interdisciplinarity and exchange of knowledge among a wide-range of stakeholders, following a cross-sectoral, participatory approach. Tools and mechanisms should be established to facilitate communication within and between sectors, scientific communities and institutions.
- Open access to data should be promoted in order to develop useful products for policy-makers and field practitioners.