Asia’s secret weapon to climate mitigation lies in nature – with mangrove as the powerful nature-based solution that can reduce impact of tidal waves by 70%. Deploying mangroves is a cost-effective solution with expenditure reduced by 50 times as compared to building a cement sea wall. This is in addition to the savings on the carbon emissions emitted during its construction. Mangroves are carbon negative infrastructure and are estimated to be able to save $US65 billion per year in losses and damages stemming from storms and floods.
Mangroves provide a natural nursery ground for shrimps, crabs, and fishes which communities can depend on. In fact, projects in Pakistan have shown that the community who are reliant on shrimp farming from mangroves have managed to double their income. Yet, mangroves are facing deforestation at an alarming rate. As much as 50% of world’s mangroves have been lost in competition with fishponds and aqua culture. Despite efforts by local communities and non-government organisations (NGOs) to replant and restore the mangroves, more can be done to address the underlying economic pressures of deforestation.
Mangroves are found in 25 countries in the world with half of them located in Asia, storing about 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon. Hence there is potential to build an investment pipeline that looks at mangroves as an asset on the global scale and drive an alternative way of resilient economic growth. The key is to create economic alternatives for communities, companies, and countries such as sustainable fish farming which has the potential to make another US$8,000 per hectare per year when combined with other benefits such as reduced water pollution, higher water productivity and carbon offsets.
New economic growth blueprints need to be developed to help regions grow economically while keeping nature at its centre. Investment ecosystems could be developed with investors, governments and communities, NGOs, and foundations to support these developmental pathways in nature, and drive both capital and economic growth. At present, 1 million hectare of mangroves that have been deforested could be restored, serving as a carbon opportunity to put nature in the balance sheet. Secondly, the growing US$45 billion aquaculture industry could serve as a source of protein for communities. Lastly, there is potential in blue carbon finance with growing interests in carbon sequestration and sinks. While there may be issues and challenges in the auditing requirements, a possible solution lies in technology – one that can be used to disrupt the sector and make it attractive for landowners to engage in carbon trading.