Discover more from A Nature Fix
What the IPCC report means for nature
And the enablers and inhibitors for Aotearoa New Zealand
Kia ora, and welcome back to A Nature Fix. Nice to see you again.
I’m writing this on the day the second part of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report on climate change is released. It’s stark news.
‘Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit.’
What stands out is how much more integrated (less siloed) the analysis is. The Chair of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee, commented:
“This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,”
Crucially there is a central role for safeguarding and strengthening nature to secure a liveable future, and it’s at the very heart of a positive vision for how we progress:
“By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 per cent of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.”
(I note the land habitat target may be achievable for Aotearoa New Zealand given that the DOC estate is around 30% of our total land area, but we have a long way to go to meet the targets for freshwater or ocean habitats).
These are just the headlines from the report (I’m yet to read the detail), but what I have learned is that transformational change does not immediately flow from IPCC reports. If it did we would already have the climate crisis in hand.
The climate and biodiversity crises are wicked problems, which can seem impossible to solve, resulting from interconnected systems that are complex, dynamic and made up of a web of interconnected elements.
One way to address wicked problems is to use Systems Thinking, which is something I’ve been interested in, and learning about, since my time at the Sustainable Business Council. As part of my Fellowship, I’ve been doing the Acumen Academy Systems Practice course. I’m finding it excellent, it’s free, it’s online, and the next course kicks off in May.
I’m on module three, identifying all the things that enable and inhibit solutions that solve both the climate and biodiversity crisis. It’s a big list, more heavy on inhibitors than enablers. It’s sourced from my conversations with experts who work in this field, and my own experience. It is by no means complete.
I’ve clustered them into themes and reviewed them in light of the IPCC report. It’s not evident to me that the IPPC report materially overcomes existing inhibitors but it will act as an enabler.
My provisional list is:
There is complacency and limited concern about biodiversity loss and very limited understanding of the issue and options to address it
There are significant gaps in the data, science and measurement frameworks needed to support investment in biodiversity
There are policy and other government actions or inactions that constrain combined climate change and biodiversity efforts
There is limited funding to invest in biodiversity
There is increasing international focus, activity and frameworks that influences us
There are opportunities for structural change happening now
There are unique features about Aotearoa NZ that allow us to do something that can’t be done elsewhere
There are influential and effective actors working on ideas and solutions in this space
My next step is to identify causes and effects of these themes, all ultimately in service to finding points of leverage that might enable change to be created. More of this in future blogs.
In the meantime, if you’ve got thoughts about inhibitors and enablers that aren’t captured by my list, I would love to hear. Drop them into the comments to the blog or on my LinkedIn.
Thanks for being here.