What are Nature-based Solutions (NbS)?
Our communities and ecosystems are experiencing the impacts of climate change at an unprecedented rate and these unique challenges need solutions that incorporate a more holistic approach and that support our complex ecosystems. Nature-based solutions (NbS) can help build resilience towards climate change through projects that restore, protect or sustainably manage ecosystems and address societal challenges (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2016). These projects are designed so human well-being and biodiversity can simultaneously benefit from the changes we make in the way we manage, protect and restore the environment.
The increase in frequency and intensity of weather events like flooding, wildfires, heatwaves, and smog are threatening our cities and the habitats of many species. Implementing protection and restoration of environments like forests and wetlands can help buffer these detrimental events. These can look like restoration of riparian buffers along streams, wetland protection, and Indigenous-led conservation. NbS is not intended to be a substitute for the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels so alongside NbS projects there is an opportunity to protect and support our ecosystems to be more resilient. The future of conservation projects needs to acknowledge the interconnectedness of the food web and that the well-being of ecosystems is directly related to the well-being of our communities. The future of environmental conservation requires us to honour alternative knowledge systems outside of the western way of knowing. Through engagement with Indigenous communities and Knowledge Holders, NbS projects can pave the way for a more inclusive and sustainable future.
Environmental systems and the natural cycles within them have been degrading at an unprecedented rate and causing irreversible endangerment to many wildlife and plant communities. The delicate processes on terrestrial and marine landscapes are strongly impacted by the mismanagement of resources and intense urban development that are threatening these natural spaces. Climate change and loss of biodiversity are unique challenges that need solutions which incorporate a more holistic approach and one that supports the complex components involved in ecosystems.
NbS case studies aim to address societal challenges and provide benefits to human well-being and biodiversity.
The IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) narrows down core principles of NbS for consistency and generalized use. Key takeaways are that NbS are evidence-based approaches that consider natural and cultural contexts such as traditional, local and scientific knowledge. NbS values evidence and information from more than one source or way of knowing. We must recognize that Indigenous and racialized communities are the most vulnerable to climate change. In order to reconcile and rebuild our relationship with the environment we must decolonize and reconcile our relationship with the First Peoples of this land. Traditional territories throughout the world contain immense biodiversity and habitats with valuable carbon sinks. By supporting the resurgence of Indigenous leadership and ways of knowing we can ensure that the rights and title of Indigenous people are at the core of NbS
Cohen-Shacham, E., Walters, G., Janzen, C., & Maginnis, S. (2016). Nature-based solutions to address global societal challenges. IUCN: Gland, Switzerland, 97.