By United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Galapagos Conservation Trust

Ocean Protection for Climate Resilience

Re-balancing the scales for the Galapagos Marine Reserve

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Amazing 360-degree view of hammerhead sharks by César PeñaherreraUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

How does ocean protection help stabilise the climate?

The global ocean and the species that live there play a major role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. This means that by protecting marine biodiversity, we are increasing the ability of the ocean to act as a natural carbon sink.

Aggregation of scalloped hammerhead sharks by Simon PierceUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

One of the world's most biodiverse marine ecosystems

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, have one of the most biodiverse seascapes in the world. Established in 1998, the Galapagos Marine Reserve covers 133,000 km2. Originally the 2nd largest marine protected area, today it’s the 33rd largest. Major threats to it are escalating.

A tagged whale shark by Galapagos Whale Shark ProjectUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Climate change poses a considerable risk for marine species.

Despite being a precious global jewel for conservation, Galapagos is under threat. Unsustainable fishing and plastic pollution are exacerbating climate change impacts.
Healthy oceans have a greater chance of withstanding the impacts of a changing climate.  

El Nino - NOAAUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Rising temperatures and changing currents harm ocean health

This affects the survival of marine species and the valuable ecosystem services and food security that they provide to humans. The Galapagos community relies on tourism and fishing, which are intrinsically linked with ocean health. 

Lucía Norris - What worries you most about climate change in Galapagos?
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Lucía Norris, a conservation and sustainable development consultant for the Galapagos Conservation Trust talks about what worries her about climate change in Galapagos.

Satellite image of the international fishing fleet in June 2020United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Exacerbating the impact of climate change

Overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, can cause the collapse of fish populations and destabilise ecosystems.

International fishing fleets surround the Galapagos Marine Reserve every year. Many species are at risk, especially sharks, which play an essential role in keeping our oceans healthy and ecologically balanced. 

Conserving sharks and other marine species has important implications for mitigating climate change and sustaining essential ecosystem services and livelihoods for coastal communities.

A green turtle tangled in ghost fishing gear by Jonathan GreenUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Plastic pollution amplifies the threat of climate change

Plastic pollution is also a problem in the fight against climate change.  According to the Center for International Environmental Law report in 2019, greenhouse gases are emitted at every stage of the plastic lifecycle, from extracting fossil fuels to managing plastic waste.

A lone yellowfin tuna by Simon PierceUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

GCT's approach to protecting wildlife and communities

We support projects that will provide sustainable and nature-based solutions, as well as alternative livelihood options to ensure resilience against growing threats to conserve the unique species found in Galapagos.

Rock pools, Isabela by George TzircotisUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

How do we do this?

We use robust scientific data to underpin our knowledge about how marine life and local communities will be affected by climate change. We develop solutions to major threats with our partners targeting economic, political and behavioural interventions.

Sustainable Development Goal workshop in Galapagos by Sophia CookeUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Lucía Norris - What climate actions are the Galapagos community taking?
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We believe in diversity, equality, and inclusion

We amplify local voices through our projects. We work with the Galapagos community to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We ensure a fair representation of views by amplifying diverse voices and facilitating solutions to meet local needs.

Ocean Protection for Climate Resilience in GalapagosUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

We are calling for action from grassroots to governments to tackle the greatest threats to the Galapagos Marine Reserve by transforming pledges into collective action. 

Schooling baitball of Salema fish by Jason LimUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

The more fish in the sea, the healthier our ocean and planet

Oceans absorb carbon more than any other habitat - containing 16x more carbon than the terrestrial habitat. To protect marine biodiversity and ocean health, we must extend marine protected areas and ensure adequate resources and capacity to enforce protections.

Overfishing must stop. Ending illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is vital to improving the sustainability and resilience of artisanal fisheries that the community depends on.

Plastics in Galapagos by Juan Pablo Muñoz-PérezUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Our consumption of plastics, which entangles and harms marine species, must be reduced, whilst moving towards a circular economy to minimise the use of oil and carbon emissions along the supply chain. We must introduce and enforce littering legislation within the Galapagos Marine Reserve and into the high seas. 

We must ensure all community voices are heard. Grassroots climate actions for mitigation and adaptation must be recognised and supported, such as observing sustainable fishery principles and adopting more sustainable living approaches.

Global Climate strike in Galapagos, November 2019 by Daniel UndaUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Lucía Norris - What do we need to do to build resilience against the effects of climate change in Galapagos?
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Our community's voices must be heard



We must globally harmonise our shared values and sustainable behaviours to achieve climate resilience.

Darwin Arch, Galapagos by Simon PierceUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Lucía Norris - What is your pledge to be more climate conscious?
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Take action today to protect the ocean around Galapagos and beyond. Make your climate pledge today, and share with us what worries you most about climate change in Galapagos. 

Join the conversation on social media #GalapagosClimateAction
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