CIWEM backs IPCC’s call for swift action towards sustainable solutions with multiple benefits

During the first half of the 2030’s we will see at least 1.5 degrees of warming says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In a press conference convened on 20 March 2023, issuing its synthesis report Climate Change 2023, the Panel sets out how to effectively apply the brakes and prevent catastrophe for our planet.

The report is the last chapter of the IPCC’s assessment cycle. It’s message to citizens of the world is clear – one of hope, but with a crucial message that action cannot wait.

The IPCC rightly points towards the role of government and world leaders to strengthen their commitments. But it also emphasises solutions demanding wider integration and benefits to climate resilience. This echoes the message at the heart of CIWEM’s strategy People, Planet, Possibility.

As an organisation with membership across many disciplines, CIWEM champions a more integrated, systems-focused approach to combining solutions which address a wide range of pressures and provide multiple benefits.

Working in this joined-up way will unlock efficiencies in delivery across society and the economy, but to do so requires world leaders to step aside from business-as-usual approaches and rethink how action is planned and funded.

Measuring and understanding the full range of potential outcomes from multi-disciplinary initiatives is crucial to changing this mindset. It may immediately make solutions that once looked costly now prove to be economically efficient.

Nature-based solutions are an excellent example. The ways we choose to manage flooding can also be designed to maximise their carbon sequestration and provide nature recovery benefits. Likewise, carbon projects like peatland restoration or woodland creation may be harnessed to reduce downstream flood risk if used strategically.

Repeated changes in policy direction have too often not allowed for progress because supply chains and awareness have not been able to become established and efficient. Often the costs of such policies are considered over and above the benefits, leading to their being abandoned.

The IPCC report flags trust and support as crucial enablers for progress to continue. Governments need to be transparent on what they can deliver and enable, alongside where people can make positive impacts through behaviour and choices. CIWEM recognises the importance of engaging diverse perspectives, local knowledge and values in the design of action to ensure successful outcomes.

We will support our members in understanding where they can make impactful change as individuals in advance of World Earth Day in April.

If governments choose to act in a joined-up way, focusing on the multiple benefits of solutions rather than the cost, then this IPCC report may be the catalyst for change our planet needs.

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