UNFCCC COP26 playback: “Scaling up the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Initiative”

On 2nd November, a side event “Scaling up the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Initiative” was organized at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). In cooperation with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and BirdLife International, the event highlighted the importance of conservation and restoration of wetlands and migratory waterbirds who depend on these wetlands, and how the Regional Flyway Initiative will contribute to tackling the climate change impact.

The event was in a format of a panel discussion, with Warren Evans from ADB as moderator. Beccy Speight, CEO of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Bruno Carrasco, Director General of Sustainable Development and Climate Change department at Asian Development Bank, Carlos Pascal Martinez from Global Environment Facility and Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International sat down for the panel discussion at the venue with Khwankhao Sinhaseni, Conservation Manager at Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) and Alex Zhang, Secretary General of Eco Foundation Global (EFG), remotely.

[Replay on YouTube]

Regional Flyway Initiative (RFI), a long-term joint program to scale up the restoration of key wetland ecosystems and sustainable management in the East Asian- Australasian Flyway (EAA Flyway) was officially launched at the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, People’s Republic of China on 14th of October. EAAFP, ADB and BirdLife International are co-leading the initiative in cooperation. For more about launching of RFI, please visit [here].

Bruno Carrasco, the Director General of Sustainable Development and Climate Change department at Asian Development Bank stated that ADB is committed to strengthening the work in climate change and looking at becoming the climate finance bank of Asia Pacific region. As part of the Regional Flyway Initiative, a platform for migratory water birds delivers climate adaption and mitigation as well as consideration which is helping the local communities to develop further opportunities will be developed.

Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International expressed that, Through the investments, there will be huge opportunity of engaging people and creating jobs at the local level, and to revamp the economic after the pandemic. The RFI is a fantastic opportunity to channel funding to enable these local communities to restore their wetlands, have jobs but at the same time start building up the resilience to climate change. So, it is not only protecting extraordinarily important sites for nature and birds but also protecting these sites that are incredibly important for getting us resilient and becoming more adaptable to changing climate.

All panelists gave meaningful speeches from the perspectives of their organizations and shared their relevant experiences. Significant relations between climate change and conservation, protection and restoration of the wetlands and migratory waterbirds that depend on these wetlands were addressed. Khwankhao Sinhaseni from BCST Thailand also raised how the Regional Flyway Initiative could be a great opportunity for local communities and local government can work together and in cooperation with international organization for conservation of migratory waterbirds and wetlands. Alex Zhang from EFG  illustrated with the case in Yangcheng National Nature Reserve as World Heritage Site of how protecting the nature can also contribute to the livelihoods of local communities and local economy.

Regional Flyway Initiative is an excellent opportunity and beginning of new generation that would assist the developing countries in the East Asian and Australasian Flyway to address the challenges of climate change and protect vital habitats for migratory waterbirds and other wetland biodiversity.  The conservation and restoration of the wetlands through the Initiative will bring co-benefits to the local communities in terms of economic and social aspect.

Watch the side event again:

Read more: RFI Communique can be downloaded [here].

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