Nature-based Solutions: Opportunities and Challenges for Scaling Up

Nature is fundamental to the functioning of our societies and economies. The degradation of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services diminish our capacity to address challenges such as climate change. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) encompass actions that conserve, manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems to tackle these challenges. While the term “Nature-based Solutions” is relatively recent, it builds upon a longstanding recognition of our reliance on nature.

In 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted a universally agreed definition of NbS, stating that they are “actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use, and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems which address social, economic, and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services, resilience, and biodiversity benefits.”

NbS play a crucial role in the global sustainable development agenda for three main reasons:

  1. They offer effective solutions to various challenges such as climate change, food and water insecurity, disaster impacts, and threats to human health and well-being, while also reducing environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
  2. Individual NbS interventions can generate multiple benefits for people, the economy, and the environment. For instance, efforts aimed at improving water security may also protect infrastructure, support decent work, sequester carbon, and enhance habitat connectivity.
  3. Certain challenges addressed by NbS, including biodiversity loss and climate action, cannot be adequately tackled without their contribution. This does not diminish the importance of other actions such as rapid decarbonization of economies.

Support for NbS is growing, as evidenced by international declarations, national policies, and public and private sector commitments and investments. However, there are still significant issues and concerns to address, particularly regarding the need to ensure that NbS demonstrate environmental integrity and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs).


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