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07/12/2019
A panel of experts has discussed the role of the oceans in adapting to climate change, which is increasing ocean acidity and reducing productivity

The Ministry for the Ecological Transition held a roundtable at COP25 to discuss the important role of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in curbing the effects of climate change. Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, said, "Marine Protected Areas are a good part of the solution to reducing pressure on the ocean and a tool to protect ecosystems."

The establishment of MPA networks is key to maintaining resilience to climate change. They protect coastal habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands, reducing their vulnerability to climate change. They also trap carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. 

These areas also suffer from the effects of climate change but, at the same time, reduce stress in vulnerable areas, helping marine animals adapt to climate change by allowing them to migrate and escape climate-related environmental pressures. They can also be used as scientific research sites to help identify the effects of climate change. 

Participants presented examples confirming the role that MPAs play as fundamental spaces in the fight against climate change. Itziar Martín-Partida, Deputy general director for the Protection of the Sea at MITECO, and Cristian Laborda, consultant for Latin American countries and the representative of the government of Chile also participated. 

THE SEA AS AN ALLY AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Global warming has already risen 1°C with respect to pre-industrial levels due to past and present greenhouse gas emissions. The consequences for the oceans include warmer waters, increased acidity and reduced productivity.

To conserve the ecological value of the oceans, the signatory countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity set Target 11 at Aichi to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. MPAs offer nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

For example, the LIFE IP INTEMARES project coordinated by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition via the Fundación Biodiversidad, seeks to consolidate and expand the marine components of Natura 2000, the world's largest network for biodiversity conservation. It provides for effective management and active participation of related sectors and uses research to guide decision-making. With more than 12% of Spanish marine areas protected, Spain already meets the Aichi target. 

The General Directorate of Sustainability of the Coast and Sea of MITECO, the IEO, the Spanish Fisheries Confederation, SEO / BirdLife and WWF-Spain are project partners. 

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