Environmental Protection

$2M Network Focus on Adapting to Changing Climate

Recognizing the significant impacts climate change already is having on nature and people, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Feb. 3 announced it is providing $2 million to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to develop a new Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network.

The network will serve as a resource for conservation groups, governments, international agencies, and others working to make vulnerable ecosystems more resilient and help human communities adapt sensibly to changing climates.

"The scale and urgency of climate change demands global cooperation and innovation to help animal and human populations adapt to our changing planet," said Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation. "Mitigation is a necessary but insufficient response. We can no longer afford to dismiss adaptation as ‘giving in’ or worry that it will reduce incentives for addressing the root causes of climate changes. This creative new network will nurture the emerging field of adaptation science, helping to build knowledge and catalyze new ideas."

In October 2008, at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Fanton stated that the foundation planned to invest $50 million to support efforts aimed at helping adapt to the threats posed by climate change. The network is an important component of that larger overall investment.

The network initially will focus on the developing world, where climate impacts are generally more acute and response capacity more limited. Climate change assessments funded by the MacArthur Foundation already have been carried out in eight hotspots in the developing world, providing a starting point for addressing biodiversity adaptation challenges in those regions. Projects include using geographical information systems to determine how a rise in sea level will impact coastal ecosystems and communities in the Caribbean, Madagascar, and Melanesia, and developing models to determine how specific species’ elevational distribution will change in the Andes, the Himalayas, and Africa's Albertine Rift.

The network will connect scientific researchers with resource managers and local and regional decision makers to ensure ecosystem-based management approaches benefit from the latest science and practical experience.

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