Biden-Harris Administration expand use of Nature-Based Solutions to Protect Communities

Bridge in Autumn
The administration's plan focuses on scaling up the adoption of nature-based solutions to benefit communities.

At United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties (COP28), the Biden-Harris administration announced a comprehensive strategy to scale-up nature-based solutions for addressing the impacts of climate change on communities across the United States. This initiative marks a significant step forward in the administration’s commitment to environmental resilience and sustainability.

The administration’s plan focuses on scaling up the adoption of nature-based solutions to benefit communities. By investing in green infrastructure projects, such as reforestation efforts, coastal restoration initiatives, and green urban spaces, the administration aims to bolster resilience while simultaneously promoting biodiversity and ecosystem health.

‘Nature plays a critical role in expanding the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold efforts to tackle the climate crisis, make our nation more resilient to extreme weather, and strengthen communities and local economies.’- White House press release, December 2023.

Following the development of the first-ever Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap for America at COP27, the Dubai climate conference saw the Biden-Harris administration announce their intention to take action for NbS:

  • Connecting with global platform to advance nature-based solutions:  The United States is joining the partnership to Enhance Nature-Based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation (ENACT), to contribute to the platform’s efforts to advance nature-based solutions. With high-ambition targets to ‘enhance the resilience of at least 1 billion at-risk people, secure up to 2.4 billion hectares of healthy natural ecosystems, and increase global greenhouse gas mitigation efforts’.
  • Resilient, climate-smart infrastructure with nature-based solutions: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memorandum to encourage adoption of nature-based solutions for building resilience and community benefits.
  • A new guide to funding nature-based solutions resources:  Nature-Based Solutions Resource Guide 2.0, designed to equip communities and agencies with successful implementation examples, tools, and evidence to advance effective nature-based solutions, and to provide communities with information on potential funding opportunities. The guide now includes nearly 300 resources that can support nature-based solutions, and provides a snapshot of 140 funding programs that could continue to support nature-based solutions. The updated guide includes examples and best practices on the use of nature-based solutions to reduce heat risk and fire risk, and to support jobs and equity.
  • Department of the Interior’s Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap and Policy: Release of the Nature-based Solutions Roadmap, an online tool created in partnership with Duke University that provides strategies, training resources, and successful examples for adopting nature-based solutions throughout the United States. The Department will also publish a new policy to prioritise nature-based solutions and provide land managers and decision-makers with guidance to support collaborative partnerships, equity, environmental justice, and the use of the best available evidence.
  • Enhancing tools for communities to better plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change: Newly launched features in the Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation portal provide enhanced connectivity to U.S. federal funding opportunities and programs, including for nature-based solutions. The portal’s Assessment Tool includes new data from FEMA’s National Risk Index, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Billion Dollar Disasters, and important information to help communities prepare for extreme cold. In addition, new functions in the interactive Atlas of the Fifth National Climate Assessment provide the most up-to-date climate knowledge and allow users to visualize and use future climate data at decision-relevant scales.

An important aspect of the strategy is the integration of nature-based solutions into existing federal programs and policies, ensuring that these approaches are mainstreamed across various sectors. This includes infrastructure development plans, disaster risk reduction strategies, and land-use planning processes.

Furthermore, a statement by the administration recognised the importance of equitable access to nature-based solutions, particularly for frontline communities disproportionately affected by climate change. The administration aims to tackle this inequality by prioritising investments in vulnerable areas and engaging local stakeholders in decision-making processes.

By harnessing the power of nature, the United States has recognised that it can build more resilient communities and protect vital ecosystems. The Biden-Harris focus on a nature-based solutions strategy sets a precedent for global action and demonstrates the transformative potential of nature-based approaches to tackle societal challenges such as climate change.