Evidence strongly suggests that nature-based solutions can significantly help us adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Research revealed that NBS can contribute as much as 30% to reducing the impacts of climate change required to meet the 2050 goals of the Paris Agreements.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) refer to actions and policies that apply nature’s ability to address our most pressing problems ranging from water security to increasing threats from extreme events and climate change impacts.
It stems from the idea that when ecosystems are healthy and managed well, they provide vital services and benefits to people, like GHG emissions reduction, conservation of water resources, clean air, and food security. It employs a variety of applications, from green infrastructure, water resource management, disaster risk reduction, and management of resources.
The European Union as an established advocate and implementor of NBS, outlines its climate adaption and forest strategies in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 – “a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems that heavily relies on NBS to achieve these goals” (Biodiversity strategy for 2030, n.d.).
The paper “Building climate resilience through nature-based solutions in Europe: A review of enabling knowledge, finance and governance frameworks” notes that although research and policy in Europe have an advanced approach and operationalization of NBS, more support and implementation are needed to reach the goals of the European Green Deal – “transforming into a sustainable, climate-neutral, climate-resilient, fair, and prosperous EU by 2050” (Calliari et al., 2022).
The paper reviewed recent EU-supported research, policy, and practices and identified critical dimensions that still need to be addressed for greater uptake of NBS, focusing on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (CCA/DRR) that built on the key messages from the 5th European Climate Change Adaptation conference ECCA 2021.
The ECCA 2021 event hosted by the EU took place between 25 May to 22 June 2021, with the theme: “Bringing adaptation solutions to life: Inspiring climate adaptation action today for a resilient future”, and consisted of a series of webinars, leading to a high-level event on 22 June.
The conference highlighted the urgency to transfer the knowledge from research and innovation (R&I) into policies and practices, including societal transformation and behavioural change, to increase resilience in Europe and beyond in the face of rising climate risks (5th European Climate Change, n.d.).
The authors screened a wide range of NBS cases across the EU and provided an overview of the types of NBS interventions implemented, their scale, climate impacts addressed and associated benefits. The exercise revealed the three main challenges to the greater uptake of NBS:
- the lack of a comprehensive evidence base on the effectiveness of NBS to address targeted challenges;
- the need for greater involvement of the private sector in financing NBS; and
- opportunities for enhancing stakeholder engagement in the successful design and implementation of NBS.
These challenges served as a starting point for a broader reflection and critical discussion on the role of i) knowledge, i) finance, including investments in NBS and divestments from nature-negative projects, and iii) governance and policy frameworks to enable the uptake of NBS (Calliari et al., 2022).
The authors concluded the study by identifying options for the EU to foster the uptake of NBS in research, policy, and practice. By doing so, the paper seeks to contribute to an emerging critical debate about what NBS initiatives are achieving in practice and the broader implications for society.
Biodiversity strategy for 2030. European Commission. Retrieved from https://environment.ec.europa.eu/strategy/biodiversity-strategy-2030_en
5th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference. ECCA. Retrieved from https://www.ecca21.eu/
Calliari, E., Castellari, S., Davis, M., Linnerooth-Bayer, J., Martin, J., Mysiak, J., Pastor, T., Ramieri, E., Scolobig, A., Sterk, M., Veerkamp, C., Wendling, L., & Zandersen, M. (2022). Building climate resilience through nature-based solutions in Europe: A review of enabling knowledge, finance and governance frameworks, Climate Risk Management, Volume 37, 2022, 100450, ISSN 2212-0963, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2022.100450