Blue Carbon Conference 2021
Blue carbon plays a central yet little-known role in the well-being and health of the environment, communities, and the economy. The term refers to the process of sequestering and storing of carbon dioxide by marine and coastal habitats such as mangroves and tidal marshes, which proliferate across the globe. The sustainable management of such habitats – the challenges and opportunities behind it – was the subject of Blue Carbon: a New Frontier for Conservation?, a pioneering international conference hosted by the Blue Marine Foundation on 9 June 2021. Bringing together leading international blue carbon scientists and policymakers, the conference aimed to unite the community and share evidence about the human impact in the health of blue carbon systems and to build momentum ahead of COP26. Participants recognised the need for better coordination between scientists, government agencies, and NGOs and for putting sustainable ocean management at the core of climate change agendas. Commercial activities at sea, such as deep-sea trawling, are at the core of debates on the health of the ocean, and therefore of the environment, which makes the engagement of coastal communities and broader politics crucial for the success and growth of blue carbon projects. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation contributed to £22,000 to the development and delivery of the conference.
The establishment of the UK Blue Carbon Forum, which builds on the success of the conference, acknowledges the vital role of community engagement and of collaboration between NGOs, scientists, and civil servants to catalyse policies to protect the ocean and, inextricably, the climate. Speaking to the community-centred approach we have promoted through the years with our climate and ocean programmes, stakeholders agree that local community involvement is critical for the long-term effectiveness of blue carbon projects. In light of UNFCCC process, this Forum will enable an increase in the profile of blue carbon habitats and will ensure that marine protection networks also support climate resilience in a manner “which should be inclusive of everybody, from the markets, to the science, to the policy.”
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Blue Carbon Habitats Installation
On the occasion of COP26, the Blue Marine Foundation created an immersive video installation representing the climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits offered by blue carbon habitats. The video, below, was exhibited in the main café of the Blue Zone (the UN negotiating zone) at COP26, with future iterations during climate-ocean events in 2022 planned. The video is also permanently on display in the Calouste Gulbenkian Wing, inaugurated in November 2021, at the Lisbon Planetarium. The Foundation funded the development of the film with £58,500.