Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services

The Report tries to enhance an understanding of climatic stressor effects on ecosystems and possible correlations and implications for societal losses and damages. The report focuses on climate impacts on specific ecosystem services, including provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services of ecosystems.

Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services (PDF)

Most studies up to date have focused on human systems and tended to overlook the mediating role of ecosystems and the services ecosystems provide to society. Therefore this report tries to advance understanding of climatic stressor effects on ecosystems and uses five case studies to illustrate effects through realworld examples, covering a range of climatic stressors, such as drought, floods, heat waves, and cyclones.

In South Asia, extreme heat events coupled with extreme rainfall resulted in threats to human health and loss of property and lives. Floods have also caused severe erosion and landslides in mountain areas. Ecosystem services are literally being eroded as intense rainfall and increased glacial runoff combine to worsen flood events. But the case studies show that causal links between climate change and a specific event, with subsequent loss and damage, are often complicated. Oversimplification must be avoided and the role of different factors, such as governance or management of natural resources, should be explored further. For example, lack of investment in water related infrastructure, power and policy, improved agricultural technology, and/or health care services also influence the risk of loss and damage.

The cases also show that while some adaptation measures have been implemented, loss and damage has nevertheless occurred.However, as changing climate intensifies, promising practices will have to scale up and new methods devised.

A win-win solution will be to invest in ambitious mitigation action to avoid the unmanageable, and comprehensive and holistic adaptation action to manage the unavoidable–including better management of ecosystems and their services, improved governance, and economic policies that support sustainable development.

Source: UNEP (2016): Loss and Damage: The Role of Ecosystem Services. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme.

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