• Day 1: Tuesday, 19 December
  • Room: Nairobi 3 - 4

Smoke on water – Countering global threats from peatland loss and degradation

Nairobi 3 - 4

A Rapid Response Assessment: A Call to Action

Join us as we share and discuss the finding of the recently launched Global Peatlands Initiative report Smoke on Water – Countering Global Threats from Peatland Loss and Degradation.  The report is a call to action and it urges all countries to make informed decisions to improve the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of peatlands.

  • It is an urgent call to decision-makers to acknowledge the importance of peatlands to protect this critical ecosystem and to prevent the carbon it stores from being released into the atmosphere for the climate, people and the planet.
  • It is a call to actors to identify where peatlands are and to halt actions that drive the degradation of peatlands.
  • It is a call to stakeholders to take note and inspiration from the solutions and innovations presented in the report.
  • It is a call to like-minded partners to join in the Global Peatlands Initiative and help chart a way forward for concerted climate action – for the climate, people and the planet.


Objectives of the Event

The event will highlight the main messages of the Smoke on Water – Countering Global Threats from Peatland Loss and Degradation report:

  • Peatlands are important to people around the world.
  • Immediate action is required to prevent further peatland degradation and the serious environmental, economic and social repercussions it entails.
  • A landscape approach is vital and good practices in peatland management and restoration must be shared and implemented across all peatland landscapes and the catchment areas.
  • Local communities should receive support to sustainably manage their peatlands by preserving traditional non-destructive uses and introducing innovative management and viable livelihood alternatives.
  • A comprehensive mapping of peatlands worldwide is essential to better understanding their extent and status, and to enable us to work together to safeguard them.


Smoke on Water – Countering Global Threats from Peatland Loss and Degradation

Recommendation 1: Policy must send a clear message to protect and conserve peatlands for the multiple ecosystem services that they provide and must link delivery of climate change, biodiversity, water, heritage and development objectives.

Recommendation 2: Act now to conserve intact peatlands, keep carbon in the ground and achieve “quick wins” in the areas of protection, sustainable use and restoration by:

  • Safeguarding and preserving natural peatlands from degradation.
  • Rewetting and restoring where peatlands are degraded to conserve biodiversity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replenish freshwater resources.
  • Managing peatlands where economic activities are taking place in a sustainable and climate smart, i.e. wet, way.
  • Following adaptive management practices where rewetting is not possible.
  • Addressing social issues, such as local communities’ right to use natural resources and their traditional uses.

In the longer term,

  • Policies include strategic planning to protect peatlands from damaging activities,
  • “Perverse incentives” that lead to damage should be removed immediately, and
  • Coordination and cooperation across government sectors needs to be made a priority to secure ecosystem benefits, rather than maximizing the delivery of individual services.

Recommendation 3: The necessary fiscal arrangements must be put in place to support new research and fund conservation and management activity, discourage damaging activities and ensure the restoration and good management of peatlands into the future. These arrangements must assist governments that are unable to pay for extensive research, restoration or other activities. In these cases, private sector involvement is required.

Recommendation 4: Channel funding for responsible peatlands policy development and management through international mechanisms such as the Nationally Determined Contribution framework, REDD+ and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Accounting for carbon stocks within forested peatlands under REDD+ could foster long-term protection.

Recommendation 5: Create an institutional framework built around coordinated action to ensure good practices across the globe in peatland management. As part of this, ensure involvement of local communities in the development and implementation of sustainable management plans.

Recommendation 6: Improved management and protection requires that the research and knowledge gaps identified in this report be addressed, especially the following requirements:

  • Develop a better understanding of the state and extent of global peatlands to inform better peatland management for climate change mitigation and provision of ecosystem services,
  • Improve understanding of the contribution of peatlands to greenhouse gas fluxes.
  • Increase understanding of the costs and benefits of restoration of peatland ecosystem services, and the opportunity costs of a ‘do-nothing’ or ‘business-as-usual’ approach.
  • Monitor and research appropriate restoration techniques suited to different peatland types and locations, with knowledge exchange playing an important part.
  • Use consistent methodologies in peatland research to enable better evaluation and comparison of published studies.
  • Provide a platform for communities, companies and government for exchange of lessons learned on sustainable alternatives for rewetted peatlands across the globe.

Recommendation 7: Governments, industry and other stakeholders must invest in raising awareness about the importance of peatlands at a global, national and regional level if new land use planning policies and management ideas

Recommendation 8: Ensure there is open dialogue, fair negotiation and social legitimacy from the local to the national level to implement any climate-responsible strategies. Millions of people rely on peatlands or land that has been converted from peatlands for their food and livelihoods. Support is needed to assist communities using peatlands to manage them sustainably and develop livelihood alternatives to halt and cease destructive practices.

Further readings:

Global Peatlands Initiative

Rapid Response Assessment

Presentations (PDFs): Alun Dohong & Anna van Paddenburg PPT Peatland solutions