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COP27 and COP15: What is next for Malaysia?

Photo (c) WWF-Malaysia

9 December 2022, Kuala Lumpur: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are two important international agreements to promote sustainable development, which Malaysia is a part of. The UNFCCC's 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) ended on 20 November, while the CBD's COP15 began on 7 December.
The recent COP27 emphasised the importance of Nature-Based Solutions and Ecosystem-Based Approaches in addressing climate change, and the need for inclusive participation, such as Indigenous Peoples, youth, and women, making nature and people integral to the solutions needed.
One landmark decision from COP27 is the establishment of a Loss and Damage (L&D) fund - a financial fund to compensate vulnerable countries for loss and damage caused by extreme weather events. L&D is the third pillar of climate action, joining the other two pillars, which are mitigation and adaptation, established in 1992 when UNFCCC was adopted.
Nonetheless,  COP27 did not go far enough to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, despite acknowledging that global emissions must be cut by 43% of 2019 levels by 2030.
Lamenting the lack of needed mitigation ambition, the UN Secretary General’s closing remarks also called for "ambition to end the suicidal war on nature that is fueling the climate crisis, driving species to extinction, and destroying ecosystems."
The convergence of these two existential crises is becoming more apparent. Climate change is an increasingly important factor in biodiversity loss, and deforestation contributes about 20% of annual global GHG emissions. Ecosystems like mangroves provide the best defence against the impacts of climate change, like storm surges and coastal erosion. Nature, therefore, cannot be ignored when discussing both mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
At the CBD COP15, countries hope to come to a new agreement on biodiversity. The focus will be on setting global targets to stop and reverse the loss of biodiversity by adopting a globally agreed-upon framework for living in harmony with nature, called the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Malaysia, a megadiverse country vulnerable to climate change, has much at stake in these negotiations. Our rapid economic development relies heavily on the country's rich natural resources. As such, a healthy natural environment and a sustainable economy are essential for safeguarding wildlife and humans.
Extreme weather events in Malaysia causing severe floods, landslides, forest fires, and haze, are evidence that climate change is already affecting our country. At the same time, Malaysians are becoming more environmentally aware, as reflected on the pledges to protect and enhance our natural environment by the parties involved in the recent General Election (GE15).
WWF-Malaysia would like to highlight how implementing these proposals can deliver multiple objectives that contribute to the important outcomes that both the UN conventions seek to achieve, which are to protect planetary health and our well-being.
These forests and marine areas are home to our incredibly diverse flora and fauna. As they thrive, so does their ecosystem, which absorb and store carbon, reducing its concentration in the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. They also buffer the impacts of climate change, including reducing the risks of landslides and floods. This helps us to face the impacts of climate change, and, in turn, gives us a reliable supply of food and water, and keeps the economy running smoothly.

Given the benefits we stand to reap, WWF-Malaysia urges parties which form the Unity Government headed by our Prime Minister to fulfil their election promises regarding the environment. Development gives connection, economic growth, investments, and job opportunities. However, if we do not safeguard nature, biodiversity, and people, we will lose it all. It is clear that global biodiversity and climate crises cannot be solved separately. We either solve both or neither. Malaysia should harness the abundant benefits that nature provides and safeguard them for future generations. Let us, therefore, invest in nature and develop sustainably to live in harmony with nature, as we strive to meet our net zero and other climate targets.

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