Mariam Almheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, invites nations around the globe to support the Mangrove Breakthrough initiative Image Credit: Getty Images for WWF Internation

Dubai: In a resounding commitment to combating climate change and safeguarding critical coastal ecosystems, the UAE has endorsed the Mangrove Breakthrough and announced a high-level Mangroves Ministerial at COP28 that will convene mangrove-hosting governments and partners including civil society, philanthropy, financial institutions, as well as the scientific community to accelerate the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems.

A collaborative effort between the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA) and the UN Climate Change High-level Champions, the Mangrove Breakthrough aims to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030. Today, the world has 14 million hectares of mangroves left, half their original extent.

Key objectives

The key objectives of the Mangrove Breakthrough are halting mangrove losses, restoring half of the recent mangrove loses, doubling the protection of mangroves on a global scale, and calling for an investment of US $4 billion by 2030 to conserve and revitalise mangrove ecosystems.

The Mangrove Breakthrough is an integral part of the Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, which seeks to accelerate resilience efforts for vulnerable communities worldwide. This initiative aligns with the Race to Resilience goal of making 4 billion people — nearly half the world’s population — more resilient by 2030.

Underlining the UAE’s endorsement of the Mangrove Breakthrough, Mariam Almheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The Mangrove Breakthrough represents a significant stride towards reducing carbon emissions and preserving our planet’s natural treasures. The UAE recognises the paramount importance of mangroves in combating climate change and supporting our coastal communities and we look forward to helping drive real on-the-ground change. I invite nations around the globe to support this unique initiative.”

Collective fight against climate change

Announcing the Mangroves Ministerial on Dec. 9, COP28’s ‘Nature, Oceans and Land Use Day’ and inviting all stakeholders to be part of the event, Almheiri said: “The Mangroves Ministerial aims to shape a strong pathway to advance nature-based solutions in our collective fight against climate change. It will focus on accelerating finance, policy and technology to meet the Mangrove Breakthrough global target of restoring and protecting 15 million hectares of mangroves, as well as halting their destruction, by 2030.”

“Our hope is to see substantial announcements anchored in a science-based, action-oriented plan to deliver these targets. Let us take forward the actions and commitments to the global stage mobilized at COP28, to continue raising strong awareness of the intrinsic interdependence of nature and climate,” added Almheiri.

The marquee event

To be hosted jointly by the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, the Global Mangrove Alliance, the UN High-Level Champions (stewards of the Mangrove Breakthrough), and the COP28 Presidency, the ‘Nature, Oceans and Land Use Day’ at COP28 reflects the commitment made by the UAE at the COP15 to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal last December. The marquee event, which will discuss the delivery of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)’s 30x30 targets, will serve as an informal stocktake of current progress on the GBF’s implementation one year from its adoption.

Climate agenda

“Mangroves exemplify the power of natural systems that advance our climate efforts while providing co-benefits for people, nature and biodiversity,” Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP28. “With coastal ecosystems already facing the impacts of a changing climate, we urgently need to scale up action to conserve, restore and protect mangroves. COP28 will provide a valuable opportunity to amplify the Mangrove Breakthrough’s goals and place nature at the very heart of the climate agenda.”

The UAE’s support for mangrove ecosystems is well known, including its own national target to plant 100 million plants by 2030. The country has also formed partnerships with international organisations, NGOs, and other countries to share best practices, conduct joint research, and implement marine conservation projects.

Why mangroves are important

Mangrove forests cover about 0.1% of the planet’s surface, but they can store up to ten times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests, according to MAC. These major benefits will be in the spotlight at COP28, where the UAE aims to promote the power of international collaboration in accelerating progress in conservation and restoration.