MacArthur Foundation Awards $2 Million to Help Threatened Ecosystems

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced a $2 million grant to the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to develop a new Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network that will serve as a resource for conservation groups, governments, and international agencies working to make vulnerable ecosystems more resilient and help human communities adapt sensibly to changing climates.

The network, a component of a $50 million MacArthur initiative announced in 2008 at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, will take a targeted, localized approach to climate-change adaptation starting with climate-change assessments in the developing world, where environmental effects generally are more acute and response capacity is more limited. Network members also will work to connect scientific researchers with resource managers and local and regional decision makers to ensure that ecosystem-based management approaches benefit from the latest science and practical experiences.

To date, MacArthur has funded assessments in eight hotspots in the developing world that provide a starting point for addressing biodiversity adaptation challenges in those regions. One project, for example, used geographical information systems to determine how a rise in sea level will affect coastal ecosystems and communities in the Caribbean, Madagascar, and Melanesia. The network will organize assessments in other parts of the world to develop baseline information useful for prioritizing adaptation needs.

"The scale and urgency of climate change demand global cooperation and innovation to help animal and human populations adapt to our changing planet," said MacArthur Foundation president Jonathan Fanton. "Mitigation is a necessary but insufficient response. We can no longer afford to dismiss adaptation as 'giving in' or worry that it will reduce incentives for addressing the root causes of climate changes. This creative new network will nurture the emerging field of adaptation science, helping to build knowledge and catalyze new ideas."

"New $2 Million Network to Help Threatened Ecosystems & Societies Adapt to Impact of Climate Change." John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Press Release 02/03/2009.