Natural Resources and Ecosystem Services: Outline
The Asia-Pacific region is blessed with great diversity and richness in natural resources, from biodiversity-rich tropical forests and wetlands, to fertile flood plains and deltas, to diverse freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems. These natural resources play critical roles in supporting the livelihoods and economies of millions of people in the region, have immense global values in terms of biodiversity and climate change mitigation, and will have an increasingly important role to play in building resilience and adaptive capacity to deal with external shocks, especially those associated with climate change. However, natural resources are under increasing pressure from growing populations and economies, extractive industries, modern agricultural systems with high chemical inputs, a growing middle class with money to spend on modern commodities, demands placed on water and land for energy production, and from pollutants discharged into the air, water and soils.
The Natural Resources and Ecosystems Services Area conducts strategic research and related activities that aims at the full integration of natural resource management into all aspects of national economic development, and to ensure that natural resource management is adequately resourced for effective implementation at national and subnational levels. Priority policy processes and milestones for the Area include: Future Earth – a 10 year (2013-2022) research programme for global sustainability; national REDD+ readiness processes, and processes to strengthen forest governance, enforce environmental laws and establish equitable, clear and secure forest tenure arrangements; CBD-related processes for developing, revising and implementing national biodiversity strategy and action plans; climate change adaptation initiatives embedded in various UNFCCC work programmes and processes, and initiatives outside the convention such as the Hyogo Framework of Action; and processes/milestones associated with water security set out in the sustainable/post-millennium development goals (SDGs/post-MDGs).
The main research subjects of the Natural Resources and Ecosystems Services Area are:
Forest Conservation: REDD+ and other forest-related issues
Approaches to train communities to monitor forest biomass are being developed and tested at research sites in several Asia-Pacific countries. This research is being expanded to a broader study on community-based REDD+ approaches. Research into national REDD+ readiness is being conducted, focusing on the development of national governance standards, links between REDD+ and NAMAs, and links between subnational and national MRV systems. Bottlenecks in the REDD+ negotiations and ways to overcome these are also being explored. The IGES Online REDD+ database makes information on REDD+ available in a useful format and disseminate the results of IGES REDD+ research.
IGES is part of the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) partnership, which aims to promote the trade in legal and sustainable wood products. Through the partnership, IGES contributes analytical studies to support the development and uptake of forest sector legality and sustainability standards.
* REDD: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries
Climate change adaptation
The climate change adaptation research focusses on mainstreaming climate change adaptation considerations into institutional and policy processes in line with promotion of synergies for coordinated planning of poverty eradication, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Specific areas include identifying adaptation effectiveness indicators, facilitating innovative financial mechanisms in risk insurance and micro-finance, operationalizing concepts such as climate-smart development in rural (e.g. climate-smart agriculture) and urban areas, evaluating and addressing the consequences of loss and damage associated with climate change, addressing issues relating to social justice such as fairness and equity in adaptation through community participation, evaluating untested and far-reaching measures such as planned migration for their feasibility and training needs assessment for designing capacity building programs. Impact generation will be ensured by inputting research results to capacity building and policy processes at various scales using networks such as the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN).
Knowledge platform related to climate change adaptation and natural resource management, biodiversity
IGES continues serving as the Secretariat for the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) which is hosted by its Bangkok Regional Centre. IGES disseminates the results of its adaptation research and research conducted by others through APAN.
Water resource management
The objective of the water resource management research is to promote the efficient use of water resources, as well as to ensure local sustainability by proposing models of integrated water resource management and governance in different socio-economic settings. For this purpose, the research focuses on a review of groundwater management policy and the development of a framework of groundwater governance in Asia. In addition, the research provides support to Asian counties to implement pilot capacity development or demonstration projects on water pollution control/wastewater management. Nexus research on water-energy-food securities is also being undertaken.
IGES will also contribute to the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge for water resources management by participating in the World Water Forum, in regional knowledge platforms such as the Water Environment Partnership in Asia (WEPA), as well as through active involvement in the Water Knowledge Hubs Network of the Asia Pacific Water Forum.
Water Environment Partnership in Asia (WEPA)
The biodiversity and ecosystems services research aims to develop and promote policy instruments for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems. Specific research areas include the valuation of ecosystem services, the investigation of ecosystem accounting frameworks and policies, a review of capacity building activities for developing countries towards an effective implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the development of indicators for assessing product lifecycles and impacts of businesses on ecosystems services, the elaboration of an action plan for Japanese business groups to manage these impacts, and the policy analysis and development of guidance to compensate biodiversity impacts (biodiversity offsets).
As part of its contribution to the International SATOYAMA Partnership (IPSI), IGES provides analysis on the benefit of promoting the management of socio-ecological production landscapes for biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation, and develops indicators and guidance to evaluate sustainable use and these landscapes. Research findings and policy recommendations for the sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services are disseminated through international policy processes, including the CBD and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Synthesis research on resilient livelihoods through integrated land, water, food and energy policies
Synthesis research will be conducted on the growing land use competition between energy crops, food, water and forests in the Asia-Pacific region. The proposed methodology consists of (i) a study of land-use competition in two countries, one where biofuel policy and production is well advanced (Thailand), and another where policy and production are at an early development stage (Nepal), and (ii) a review of the uptake of integrated natural resource management approaches in Asia-Pacific countries. The comparative analysis on Thailand and Nepal will involve a comprehensive assessment of energy feed stocks in terms of land productivity, livelihoods, environmental implications and appropriate technologies. The review on integrated natural resource management will cover (i) the evolving nature of competition over land and resources, (ii) analysis of how these interests come to bear on natural resource conservation and exploitation through the existing state models for natural resource management, and (iii) progressive approaches to integrated natural resource management found in the region. This study is expected to highlight the challenges the region is facing and point to ways forward for natural resource management models that contribute to both economic development and resource conservation.