Nature-based solutions address climate impacts through measures that conserve, manage and restore ecosystems. These efforts support adaptation and convey societal and economic benefits, including biodiversity conservation and economic growth.
Addressing Social Problems by Looking to Nature
Nature-based solutions for adaptation take an integrated approach to solving several connected problems in international development. By looking to nature to address societal and climate problems, nature‑based solutions offer more sustainable cross-sectoral results to international development challenges than could otherwise be achieved. Nature-based solutions almost always have climate adaptation and mitigation co-benefits, so that one action addresses both the causes and consequences of climate change.
Concrete examples are the best way to understand nature-based solutions. Take these five core global issues whose solutions can be based in nature:
- Disaster risk management
- Public health
- Food security
- Clean water
- Climate change mitigation
Nature-Based Solutions to Human Problems
One nature-based solution — restoring an upland forest — can impact all five problems by protecting groundwater for both agricultural and domestic use, improving soil quality, safeguarding against the worst effects of drought, preventing landslides and sequestering carbon dioxide.
Restoring coastal ecosystems, incorporating ecological corridors into road projects and leveraging green spaces as part of urban planning are all examples of nature-based solutions that simultaneously address societal issues and ecological ones.
Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Offers Wide-Reaching Solutions
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a nature-based solution that promotes climate resilience through ecosystem integrity. EbA approaches can impact a variety of issues in international development including extreme weather, food security, water security and protecting coastal populations. EbA efforts include:
- Forest management activities designed to promote natural fire regimens, which protect local communities from dangerous wildfires in dry forests
- Strategically placed shade trees which enhance soil quality, creating an ideal habitat for pollinators and protect watersheds
- Conservation of marine and freshwater ecosystems, along with managing fisheries, to improve food security by maintaining fish stocks
- Agroforestry and conservation practices, which allow farms to save water and protect farmers from the worst consequences of drought
- Preserving or restoring coastal environments, including mangroves and coral reefs, which play a crucial role in protecting coastal communities from erosion and storm surge
Cities face grave climate risks. Nature-based solutions are an important part of holistically addressing these challenges.
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