Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) stands as a dedicated guardian of the ocean, using our science and advocacy to inspire environmental stewardship. Recognizing the pivotal role of the ocean in climate regulation, PWF aligns with global efforts to safeguard this vital ecosystem. Here, we explore the interconnectedness between COP28, the UN’s climate initiatives, and PWF’s commitment to protecting whales and dolphins.
UNFCCC's Recognition and Milestones and COP28
The UNFCCC stands for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an international treaty that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The primary objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous human interference with the climate system.
COP stands for Conference of the Parties. It refers to the annual meetings where the member countries of the UNFCCC come together to assess their progress in dealing with climate change and negotiate agreements to enhance the implementation of the Convention. Each meeting is numbered (e.g., COP28), indicating the meeting number that it represents. COP meetings are crucial for global climate governance and serve as a platform for countries to discuss and coordinate their efforts to address climate change on a global scale.
The UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement underline the importance of preserving the ocean. COP25 marked a turning point, initiating the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue to address ocean-related challenges. COP26 further solidified ocean-based action within the UNFCCC process. COP27, in 2022, continued strengthening this action through the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, focusing on Coastal Ecosystem Restoration, Blue Carbon, Fisheries, and Food Security.
The Ocean's Climate Crucial Role:
Covering 71% of Earth’s surface, the ocean is a keystone in climate regulation, absorbing 90% of generated heat and a quarter of carbon emissions. Cetaceans, a group including whales and dolphins, contribute to carbon sequestration and primary production, two processes that are essential for ecosystem balance. Through their bodies and carcasses, they sequester carbon dioxide deep on the seafloor, provide habitat to thousands of species, and through their feces they cycle nutrients throughout the ocean, increasing primary production. The importance of cetaceans to the functioning of the ecosystems was first recognized by the International Whaling Commission in 2016 and since then many other organizations have followed, such as the CMS, IMF, IPCC, and UNFCC. Whales contribute considerably to the ocean health and are increasingly being considered a nature-based mitigation measure to address the climate crisis.
Pacific Whale Foundation's Alignment:
PWF’s marine research, education, and conservation initiatives dovetail with UNFCCC goals. Acknowledged by global bodies like the International Whaling Commission, whales and dolphins around the world face threats from various human activities, necessitating urgent conservation efforts. Our applied research program assesses human impacts on whales, dolphins, and their ocean home, while our education programs foster awareness of these issues and environmental stewardship. PWF directly supports the objectives of the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue, concentrating on coastal ecosystem restoration and global food security. By championing practical and actionable solutions, PWF plays a pivotal role in protecting the ocean and its biodiversity.
Global Cooperation for a Sustainable Future:
COP28 exemplifies global collaboration to combat climate change challenges. PWF’s alignment with UNFCCC objectives reflects our commitment to safeguarding the ocean and its ecosystems. The ongoing endeavors of PWF and other environmental NGOs, combined with international dialogues, offer hope for a future where the ocean thrives as a resilient component of Earth’s climate system. We know that it will take an army of committed individuals to change the tide. We also know that this is possible; the “save the whales” movement brought back humpback whales from the brink of extinction. Together, we work towards a sustainable tomorrow, recognizing the vital connection between COP28’s global agenda and PWF’s efforts throughout the Pacific.