EU and UNDP partner on biodiversity and climate change in Europe

Dec 4, 2012

The EU and UNDP have signed an agreement to support climate change mitigation and adaptation in Russia and Eastern Neighborhood countries. Through innovative pilot projects under the ‘Clima East’ programme, the hope is to demonstrate that ecosystems can have a strong, positive and cost-efficient effect on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Ecosystems such as peatlands, permafrost landscapes, boreal forests and pasture-land have an important role to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation. They also support the resilience of local communities that are dependent on natural resources.

Peatlands, which provide multiple ecosystem services such as climate and water regulation, biodiversity conservation and human welfare, also store vast amounts of carbon – in fact, they are the world’s richest carbon soils. At the same time, this is the soil most prone to release of carbon when exposed to degradation. Currently, peatlands in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine comprise the world’s largest store of peatland carbon. Large areas of these peatlands have already been drained for forestry and agriculture, or are being mined for peat, causing release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Through ‘Clima East’ pilot projects, the ecological status of over 26,000 hectares of peatlands in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is expected to be restored and improved. This will contribute to preventing the loss of carbon through erosion and fires. It will also turn degraded areas into productive land suitable for biodiversity-friendly pasture management and biomass-harvesting.

Other important ecosystem services are provided by boreal forests (taiga) and permafrost, which also are some of the key carbon pools of the globe.  In Russia’s Republic of Komi the pilot project will strengthen the management of a 1.9 million hectare protected area of boreal forest and create 20,000 hectare of new protected areas.

Permafrost is the most vulnerable ecosystem in the northern areas. In the Nenetsky Autonomous Okrug of Russia, the program will work with the private sector to restore 180 hectares of abandoned permafrost ecosystems. This is a unique experiment tried for the first time by UNDP and EU, with important implications for the Climate Change science and international dialogue on the role of permafrost in climate change.

In total, the pilot-projects under the ‘Clima East’ programme are estimated to reduce the emission of approximately 170,000 ton CO2-equivalent per year (or over 3.4 million ton CO2-equivalent in 20 years following the implementation of the project activities). This will be achieved by a combination of reduction of emissions and the increased natural capture of carbon dioxide.


  • The pilot-projects are part of a broader EU-financing package:  ‘Clima East: supporting Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Neighbourhood East and Russia’, financed from the Regional Action Programme 2011-2013 of the EU Eastern Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). 
  • The Clima East programme will be implemented in 2013-2016. The financial contribution from the EU to UNDP is EUR 11 million.
  • The projects will be implemented in in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia.
  • The projects complement the ecosystem-based climate change mitigation and adaptation activities of UNDP and the Global Environment Facility in Europe. They are important elements of UNDP’s recently approved Global Biodiversity Strategy and a new venue in UNDP natural resource management activities in Europe and CIS.
  • The programme-results and lessons-learned will provide input to EU’s Eastern Partnership Environment and Climate Change Panel, and EU-Russia climate change sub-group.
Contact information


Maxim Vergeichik,

Regional Technical Advisor, biodiversity & ecosystems

UNDP Regional Support Center for Europe and CIS in Bratislava, Slovakia


Tel: +421 259 337 152