What are nature-based solutions?

Re-meandering of streams and rivers is one example of nature-based solutions. Photo by Adam Śmigielski on Unsplash.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are defined by IUCN and IPBES as:

“Actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.

IUCN (2016)

There are many examples of how sustainable land management, conservation activities and ecosystem restoration can contribute to climate change mitigation and/or adaptation,simultaneously strengthen biodiversity and deliver ecosystem services to humans.

Nature-based solutions are considered a key part of the work on the climate, the environment and biological diversity and have many benefits. Examples of nature-based solutions include the sustainable use of land and resources, protection and restoration of bogs and wetlands and the re-opening or re-meandering of streams and rivers.

Nature-based solutions are highlighted by both the IPBES and IPCC as a cost-effective way of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature-based solutions encompass actions spanning protection, sustainable use and restoration in order to maintain and re-establish ecosystem services to solve societal challenges such as climate change adaptation, food security, biodiversity loss and climate gas emissions.

At the same time there is a growing body of information, scientific literature and practitioners experience, that there are challenges when implementing NBS, which include issues of participation and equity, economic valuation, scale and time effects, integration with built infrastructure and governance and policy issues (Nelson et al., 2020).