Photo exhibit highlights EU - UNDP climate action in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia

Oct 11, 2017

The photo exhibit, Shifting Ground, highlighting climate action in the Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine -  and Russia opened at Studio Baxton in Brussels today.

The exhibit shows how intact ecosystems like peatlands, permafrost peatlands, boreal forests and pasture lands can have a strong and cost-effective positive effect both on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It highlights the powerful work of Clima East, a EU-funded initiative which helped these countries to adapt to climate change and how an ecosystem-based approach – which combines issues of rural development, sustainable land management, and sustainable livelihoods – can be used to establish community-centered solutions to climate change.

“In each of the eight Clima East pilot project sites, there are community leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, local and central Government representatives, protected area managers, NGOs and civil society organisations, men and women who are successfully finding new ways to protect and manage their environment and to prove that better livelihoods are possible to achieve together with benefits for nature and climate,” said Silvija Kalnins, Clima East Pilots project Regional Coordinator.

Impacts of climate change – such as increased droughts and erratic weather – threaten to undermine decades of development gains and put at risk efforts to eradicate poverty. Floods in Georgia, and severe droughts in Moldova and southern Ukraine, inflict major agricultural losses. Armenia is experiencing more erratic rainfall, while Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Russia are experiencing a variety of challenging climate change impacts. To address these impacts, people across the region have mobilized to cut greenhouse gas emissions, save lives, and help communities cope. Unprecedented steps have been taken in the peatlands of Belarus to keep carbon safely stored in the ground. Georgia now has sophisticated early warning systems and better pasture management plans. In Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, 39,650ha of peatlands, which comprise the world’s largest store of peatland carbon, have been rehabilitated.

“Since 2011, the EU-funded Clima East pilot projects have worked to explore positive-sum solutions associated with low-carbon development in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. The pilots have demonstrated how rehabilitating ecosystems can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time improve the lives of the people who depend on these ecosystems”, said Lawrence Meredith, Director for the Eastern Neighbourhood, European Commission.

Results of the Clima East initiative:

  • Greenhouse gasses equivalent to 132 million tonnes of CO2 sequestered or avoided over the next 20-year period through protection of peatlands, pastures, and other vital ecosystems.
  • More than 842,000 hectares of lands in the seven countries now covered by carbon cycle estimates, based on data from pilot project field monitoring.
  • Nearly 72,000 hectares of vulnerable ecosystems now enjoy improved resilience to climate change with over 192,000 people in the seven countries experiencing reduced vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change.
  • Over 93,000 hectares of key ecosystems and at least 57 key species have either reduced climate-related threats and/or improved their biodiversity status.
  • Nearly 35,000 hectares of newly protected areas established in service of biodiversity conservation goals, and over 1,787,000 hectares of previously protected areas supplemented with improved management, trainings, and participation of specialists.
  • Rural development results include over 65,000 individuals with improved livelihoods as a direct economic benefit of Clima East programming. In addition, over 92,000 individuals have secured social benefits (i.e. benefits other than direct economic benefits) across the seven participating countries.
  • Overall, a total of 17,700 hectares of lands have restored, secured, and/or enhanced land and water ecosystem services over the seven countries, and an additional 12,000+ hectares scheduled for planned restoration and/or enhancement activities.

About Clima East: Clima East has been a European Union-funded project assisting the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia in developing approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The seven countries involved, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine, have worked to complement the ecosystem-based climate change mitigation and adaptation activities of UNDP, the Global Environment Facility, and regional partners, as well as local-level initiatives. The European Union funded two components of Clima East: Pilot Projects that supported the development of ecosystems-based approaches to climate change in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine and  a Policy component that sought to foster improved climate change policies, strategies, and market mechanisms in the partner countries by supporting regional co-operation and improving information access to EU climate change policies, laws, and expertise.

For more information on the Clima East Pilots project, please visit:

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