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UNFCCC Climate Meeting in Durban (28 Nov - 12 Dec 2011)

Wetlands International participated at the 2011 climate summit in Durban, South Africa. The overall steps taken by the 194 governments are dangerously minimal. Regarding wetlands, we are content that wetland-carbon is finally recognised in different decisions. This may have a great impact for saving carbon rich wetlands (see final press release).


Action Description:

Durban: what was at stake for wetlands? 

Kyoto Climate agreement, ignoring wetland emissions

One of the big questions in Durban was regarding the future of  the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto climate agreement ends in 2012. The current protocol in fact ignores the large emissions from wetland (peat soil) drainage. 


Reducing emissions from deforestation, and wetlands loss?

Wetlands International has advocated to ensure that not only trees, but also the organic peat soils of forests become a key part of REDD - the UNFCCC mechanism to reduce emissions from forests in developing countries. Excluding peat soils would also make REDD perverse by allowing significant emissions unaccounted. Furthermore, the exclusion of peat soils would drive even more drainage activities from for instance pulpwood and oil palm plantations to these highly emissive peat soils.


Wetlands for adapting to a changing climate

Another major issue is how vulnerable countries will be able to adapt to the impacts of climate change. We believe wetlands have significant stakes for both. On both these issues, however, just meager non-binding process steps are made.

Our activities

Wetlands International has been present at the climate meetings since 2005. We have developed reports on the importance of carbon rich wetlands for climate change mitigation, organised lectures, spoke to countless governments and other organisations and improved the knowledge on wetlands. See our work on peatlands and carbon dioxide emissions and our work on climate change adaptation: wetlands for reducing disaster risks and mangroves for coastal resilience.


Wetlands International presentations in Durban:

3 December on Agicultural and Rural Development Day: presentation on "wise us of wetlands:  hosted by CTA.

4 December on Forest Day: Mangrove Management for Climate Change Adaptation

4 December: Roundtable organised by NEPAD focusing on Mangrove protection as a tool for Climate Change Adaptation.



In Durban, the governments decided that Kyoto will continue to exist and ensures binding agreements on the reduction of emissions. In addition, the emissions of wetlands are now also listed so that countries can meet their climate targets by restoring wetlands! This is a great achievement of our organisation.


Regarding the issue of reducing emission from forest deforestation in developing countries (REDD), we helped to achieve that all 'carbon pools' in an area to be considered to see if a country truly reduced its emissions from deforestation. This basically means that carbon rich peat soils are also accounted for. This is a great achievement as it will generate a strong incentive for donors to tackle the loss of  wetland areas with carbon rich peat soils. 

Further information

Please download our policy submission to UNFCCC (SBSTA) from September 2011 with which we have briefed countries on these issues. Also download the powerpoint presentation from our side event in Panama on reference levels for peatlands in REDD:

Download the 'High Level Brief to Ministers' with the recommendations from our Ecosystems Climate Alliance  for the Land Use Sector (LULUCF) under the Kyoto Protocol.


Follow us:
Wetlands International was present in Durban from 28 November to 11 December and  will continue to work on this issue. You can follow us on Twitter: and through this webpage on Durban: | tel: +31 622624702



Action Partners:


Wetlands International Africa -

Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA) -


ECA's action on Forests in Exhaustion in CDM

Download the leaflet from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance that was distributed to negotiators in Durban on a newly proposed methodology for the Clean Development Mechanisms. As a result, it was not approved and has been postponed to next year for further discussion. Download Forest in Exhaustion - An ECA guide for the Perplexed.