One of the clients of Browning Environmental agency, global NGO The Nature Conservancy, planned to launch a landmark science paper that it had worked on for two years with 15 other organizations. This provided the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential of land use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (for example, reforestation, conservation agriculture, and coastal wetland restoration). This paper is relevant to climate change scientists and to the conservation community but Browning Environmental recognized its potential to deliver transformational change to action on land use on the ground, using communications. For decades, the climate debate had tended to dismiss the land sector opportunity because it appeared too complicated compared with technological fixes like solar panels or wind turbines.
With the support of our client, we conducted a research project in six countries (USA, Mexico, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia) to understand what was working in land use communications, and how this was related to policy action.
This enabled us to develop messaging to more effectively engage audiences in target countries and draw some significant conclusions regarding land use. For example, we found that compared with renewable energy, and sustainable transport, few leaders had taken strong positions on the topic. We also found that campaigners had focused overly on tropical forest protection, neglecting the opportunities in agriculture in Northern and OECD countries.
We prepared the launch of the paper working on a typical array of content–videos, social media material, a brochure–but we also tailored media materials to local languages and audiences. We also engaged VIP leaders through our network including Christiana Figueres, Lord Stern, and Dr. Mayaki.
At the same time, we started the planning for a new initiative, Nature4Climate, which aims to rally different stakeholders around increased action on land use (see the section: Strength points of the practice).
Objectives and beneficiaries
The objectives were to:
- Revitalize the land use debate;
- Focus the climate community on the goal of land use;
- Engage stakeholders with divergent interests around the world.
The beneficiaries are all those already working in land use and climate, the wider climate community that has not seen enough action on land use, and the wider world, that will benefit from increased action on land use.
Strong points of the solution
The science paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in October 2017, was a great success. We launched the media campaign at the same time, delivering more than 120 articles in more than 30 countries.
Stakeholders started to engage with The Nature Conservancy on this, and they were able to put forward the Nature4Climate concept we had developed. Quickly this found supporters.
On 20 June 2018, the Nature4Climate initiative was launched, with the following supporters: the United Nations Development Programme, World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Conservation International and Woods Hole Research Center. The Convention on Biological Diversity joined shortly after the launch, and other major global organizations are set to join.
The initiative has its own website (nature4climate.org) and Browning Environmental is helping to coordinate the messaging of the N4C partners on land use around the world.
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
Accounting for cost constraints, the study calculated that land use pathways could reduce emissions by 11.3 billion tonnes per year by 2030, providing for 37% of the emissions reductions needed to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. One-third of this cost-effective mitigation can be delivered at or below 10 USD MgCO2.
Land use pathways also support adaptation to climate change by helping ensure habitats, ecologies, economies and communities are more resilient to the impacts of climate change. For example, investing in the conservation and restoration of coastal ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass meadows and saltmarshes can help increase protection for coastal communities threatened by storm events.
Scalability potential of the solution
The Nature4Climate initiative is entirely scalable, e.g. it is currently setting up working groups to address the private sector via the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This is engaging diverse groups around the world on the topic of climate action in land use.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made for length and clarity.]