Green List
Climate Change

Protected Areas and Climate Change

Role of Protected Areas in the Climate Change battle

How Protected Areas contribute to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation


Prevent the loss of carbon that is already present in vegetation and soils;



Sequester further carbon from the atmosphere in natural ecosystems


Maintain ecosystem integrity, buffer local climate, reduce risks and impacts from extreme events such as storms, droughts and sea-level rise;



Maintain essential ecosystem services that help people cope with changes in water supplies, agricultural productivity, fisheries and disease exacerbated or caused by climate change

Protected areas as climate resilience tools

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

How the IUCN Green List Standard embeds climate change and DRR

Good Governance

  • Requires adaptive governance that draws on the best available knowledge of the social and ecological context of the area, using an adaptive management framework that anticipates, learns from and responds to change in decision-making and circumstances. This ensures that changes caused by more severe climate impacts and associated natural disasters (such as extreme weather events) can be dealt with effectively through an adaptive approach to ensure that ecosystem benefits and services from PAs can support people in times of need. See Criterion 1.3 in the standards for more detail on adaptive management requirements.

Sound Design and Plannign

  • Requires that PAs identify major natural and ecosystem service values and design for their long-term conservation in the planning for the area; many of these values can be climate or DRR related such as forest or peatland ecosystems for carbon sequestration or mangroves for flood control. Often PAs are managed without clear objectives or an in-depth understanding of the multiple values of the PA to nature and society. For example, a tiger reserve in the mangroves of the Sundarbans plays an important role in climate regulation and coastal buffering against sea-level rise and storm events. Yet if they are only managed for tigers, these other climate and DRR related values may not achieve their potential. See Criteria 2.1 and 2.2 in the standard for more detail on these elements.

Effective Management

  • Requires that PAs have a long-term management strategy appropriately designed and sufficiently resourced to achieve specified management goals and objectives, including the conservation of the area’s major natural and ecosystem service values. Where these values are climate and DRR related, these requirements ensure that the management strategy explicitly integrates the conservation of these values for their sustained provision of mitigation, adaptation and DRR benefits. See Criteria 3.1 and 3.2 for more detail on these elements.

Successful Conservation Outcomes

  • Requires that the PA is demonstrating conservation of major natural, ecosystem service and cultural values. Where these values are climate and DRR related, these requirements ensure that appropriate implementation of the sufficiently resourced management strategy is in place. This will directly result in conservation of these values, which will demonstrate the mitigation, adaptation and DRR benefits for the PA and equally, if not more importantly, for the larger region where the PA is located (e.g. adaptation and DRR benefits to local communities around the PA). Such a demonstration of benefits can help programming of climate and DRR financing to PAs, and can also inspire new and innovative approaches to equitable and effective PA management for addressing climate change mitigation, adaptation and DRR.

Gorgona National Park (GNP) Case Study

“Addressing climate change in protected areas is about more than just thinking about changes in temperature and precipitation; it requires new approaches that will enable protected areas to maintain their social and ecological values as the climate changes. In the IUCN Green List Standard we have mainstreamed climate considerations across the standard, including through the incorporation of adaptive governance criteria. This will help protected area planners and managers to incorporate mitigation and adaptation measures into their current management rather than having stand-alone plans that sit on the shelf.”

Carina Wyborn, Research Advisor at the Luc Hoffmann Institute of WWF, an active partner of the IUCN Green List Standard
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