Coast News

First Guidelines to Design and Deploy Blue Carbon Projects in Europe and the Mediterranean

IUCN launches a manual to support financing of restoration and conservation efforts on a European and Mediterranean scale. 


Conservation of blue carbon ecosystems such as wetlands and seagrasses is one of the most effective management measures for climate change mitigation. The Manual for the Creation of Blue Carbon Projects in Europe and the Mediterranean launched today by IUCN intends to respond to the growing interest in managing, protecting, and restoring these blue carbon habitats to their full potential as a part of local and global climate change mitigation policies.

In particular, this manual presents all the necessary methodological steps from the design of a blue carbon project on the ground to reporting according to diverse standards to obtain carbon credit offsets. Furthermore, it includes a selection of the best options in terms of restauration for mitigation, how to optimise efforts to obtain field data and building robust estimates within the boundaries of blue carbon projects. 

European and Mediterranean blue carbon coastal ecosystems such as wetlands, marshes and seagrasses, especially Posidonia meadows, when well preserved, can sequester and store significant quantities of organic carbon, for over centuries and millennia in these environments. If kept undisturbed, carbon stays locked away in the sediments.   

“Because of the high amount of carbon stored by these ecosystems, further degradation could lead to increased emissions into the atmosphere and the sea", explains Maria del Mar Otero, Mediterranean Marine Biodiversity and Blue Economy Programme manager at IUCN.

83% of the global carbon cycle is estimated to circulate through the ocean. While coastal habitats cover less than 2% of the total ocean area, coastal blue carbon ecosystems are ranked among the most effective "ocean-based solutions" for mitigating climate change.  

Over the past few years, initiatives around domestic carbon offsets have taken place notably outside Europe. Indeed, several countries, initiatives and regions are initiating their own plans to design future opportunities around blue carbon. This publication highlights that through voluntary carbon offset mechanisms, private companies can support conservation and restoration actions and can play a key role in the Mediterranean and European regions to upscale restoration and conservation efforts as it is occurring already in other regions.  

The integration of coastal restoration projects as a part of local climate-change adaptation and mitigation-planning are key elements to avoid further greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Coastal ecosystems demonstrate how nature can be used to enhance climate change mitigation strategies and therefore offer opportunities for countries to achieve their emissions reduction targets and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, added Maria del Mar Otero.  

The manual recalls that the objective of the Paris Agreement is to achieve the net emission of zero greenhouse gases by 2050. Following this goal, it provides essential elements for effective restoration, particularly for mitigation purposes, while describing additional resources that project developers can use to understand further management actions so as to enhance this value. Case studies from different regions are offered to illustrate relevant concepts and interventions on these coastal ecosystems.  

Furthermore, this publication offers an overview of tools to assess blue carbon project eligibility and feasibility, together with information on project certification processes, which should all be considered before initiating the design of any project to be financed through the carbon market.

This publication is addressed at public institutions, civil society organisations, researchers and private companies interested in strengthening their initiatives, as for example, the ones related to corporate social responsibility, through Blue Carbon projects. It draws from a number of existing methodologies and approaches created by the International Blue Carbon Initiative as well as the work developed by the EU LIFE Blue Natura project


The LIFE Blue Natura `project is co-financed by the Cepsa Foundation, the MAVA Foundation and Red Eléctrica to enhance understanding within public and private organisations of the different blue carbon standards and initiatives.  

The publication can be found here.

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