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 Oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems


Role of oceans and coastal areas in building climate resilience 

Healthy oceans are instrumental in regulating the climate system and are integral to achieving the SDGs​ and the objectives of the Paris Agreement​They also help safeguard coastal cities, communities and businesses from adverse impacts of a changing climate. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special report on Oceans and Cryosphere (SROCC​) warns that Small Island Developing States (SIDS), coastal megacities and communities are on the frontline of increasing climate impacts. 

Ocean and marine ecosystems provide a space for action for governments, communities and stakeholders living with increasing risks in the next decades. A number of countries have communicated their intentions through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to increase adaptation efforts in ocean ecosystems, and to safeguard oceans to facilitate sustainable development. Knowledge gaps in adapting to the impacts of climate change in coastal areas can pose barriers to countries to take necessary adaptation action. Nature-based solutions in the oceans and coastal areas are a vital part of strategies to strengthen livelihoods, ensure food security, and protect lives. 

Closing knowledge gaps through partnership with the NWP expert group on oceans 

The Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), UNFCCC knowledge-to-action hub on adaptation and resilience was mandated SBSTA 48 and SBSTA 50​ to focus on oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems as one of the priority areas. The work provides an opportunity to link with and build on existing initiatives and promoting coherence to ensure effective outcomes for the ocean-climate nexus, boosting exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices. 

The NWP expert group on oceans, established in 2019, aims to strengthen action on ocean and climate adaptation under the UNFCCC process. Building on the momentum to-date. The expert group can help address key ocean-climate gaps through collaboration among expert group members, and with the UNFCCC constituted bodies, other thematic expert groups of the NWP and relevant communities of practice.

The knowledge-to action methodology 

The Nairobi work programme (NWP), the UNFCCC knowledge-to-action hub for climate adaptation and resilience, uses a knowledge-to-action methodology (see figure below) that guides knowledge co-development through partnerships. This collaborative approach responds to the adaptation needs of Parties, with an emphasis on developing countries, and supports the formulation of national adaptation plans and relevant mandates of UNFCCC constituted bodies. The approach has been refined over the years incorporating lessons learned.

The NWP knowledge-to-action approach

The figure below provides an overview of the step-by-step process to facilitate delivery of this thematic work from August 2019 to 2020 and beyond.


Step 1: Scoping

  • Create a scoping paper to review and sythesize existing knowledge on oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems, including but not limited to mega deltas, coral reefs, mangroves and slow onset events   ​


Step 2: Identify and engage with expert groups

  • Setting up an expert group on the ocean consisting of around 23 representatives from renowned organizations and institutes, including the IPCC, United Nations agencies, networks and other relevant international organizations and institutes
  • Collaborate with the expert groups in subsequent steps

 Step 3: & 4: Refine knowledge and co-design actions with expert groups, constituted bodies and partners

  • Organized the expert group virtual meeting in November 2019 with 12 experts; led to refined knowledge gaps and indicative actions to address these gaps 
  • Co-designed and organized the 13th Focal Point Forum 

​ Step 5: Report and disseminate findings


Step 6: Facilitate partnerships for action

Figure: Oceans, Coastal Areas and Ecosystems: Overview of progress to-date