The Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns us that climate change is unequivocal. This means, climate change is here, it is happening and has adverse impact to both natural and human systems. Accordingly, with an increase of 1.5-2.5°C in average global temperature, around 20 to 30 percent of existing biodiversity resources can be wiped out. Increasing it further to 3.5°C can potentially wipe out 40 to 70 percent of wildlife. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of the United Nations Environmental Programme.
Some appropriate responses to climate change to promote biodiversity conservation include the following: (1) promote a more integrated and systemic approach in addressing the problem at the global and national level; (2) advance the science and practice of climate change adaptation that mainstreams biodiversity and sustainable development in policies, plans and programs; (3) secure sustainable financing mechanism for environmental services, and (4) ensure sustainable livelihood for forest or biodiversity-dependent communities.
Historically, humans have always been left with two choices: one is to wait and see until catastrophes overtake us; another is to be more aggressive and proactive by promoting social check and balance to correct systematic failures. Climate change and biodiversity loss are systemic failures. So we have an important role to play as far as the second option is concerned. After all, the future of our children depends on how well we prepare and adapt to changing climate and biodiversity.
(Condensed presentation of Dr. Juan Pulhin, Dean of College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños on May 22, 2013 at La Breza Hotel, Quezon City during the FPE National RAC-Partners Meeting)