LEDS in Practice: Boost ecosystem resilience to realize the benefits of low emission development

Submitted by Anna Hickman | published 29th Jun 2016 | last updated 11th Jul 2022
planting mangroves


Ecosystems such as forests, coastlines, and oceans are natural carbon sinks that store carbon from the atmosphere in vegetation, soil, water, and living organisms. This process, known as carbon sequestration, is key to avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. The world’s forests, for instance, store more carbon than exists in the entire atmosphere, and mangroves can store more than twice the amount of carbon as a terrestrial forest of the same size. The destruction and degradation of forests and coastal ecosystems, however, releases this stored carbon into the atmosphere, contributing at least 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. If left unchecked, these emissions will accelerate climatic change and further exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, and thereby undermine efforts to adapt to climate change.

Low emission development strategies for the land use sector that prioritize the protection of carbon rich ecosystems not only reduce emissions, but also protect biodiversity, safeguard local livelihoods, and reduce rural poverty, all of which can lead to more climate resilient systems. REDD+ and blue carbon initiatives are among the measures available to conserve, sustainably manage, and restore these carbon rich ecosystems, which are crucial for natural carbon storage and sequestration, and for building climate resilient communities.

This publication*, which was produced in partnership with Conservation International, explores how ecosystem approaches to low emission development can contribute to climate resilience and how ecosystem based approaches can be integrated into low emission development policies and planning. It also presents a short case study on the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative, Peru.

*download the full report form the right-hand column. The key messages from the report are provided below - see the full text for more detail and further resources.

Key Messages

  • Low emission development measures have the potential to increase resilience to climate change, especially in developing countries that are already suffering significant losses from climate change impacts.

  • Actions to protect and restore ecosystems that store and sequester carbon, for example, not only avoid greenhouse gas emissions but also strengthen people’s and communities’ resilience to climate change impacts and contribute to human wellbeing and biodiversity conservation.

  • Protecting and restoring carbon rich ecosystems such as forests and mangroves maintains and enhances natural carbon storage and sequestration. These ecosystems also provide numerous benefits, or ecosystem services, that enhance people’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.

  • Ecosystem services are essential for climate change adaptation in communities around the world. They provide flood control, clean air and drinking water, coastal protection from storms and sea level rise, and habitats for numerous species that are important for local livelihoods and food security.

Further resources