New UNEP report: Opportunities and Challenges for Scaling Up NbS

Image of person tending to tree © Eduard - Adobe Stock
The report synthesises the current state of knowledge and key actions to translate NbS commitments into action. Image © Eduard - Adobe Stock

A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nature-based Solutions: Opportunities and Challenges for Scaling Up, published in October 2022, outlines the developments on NbS with global, regional, and national commitments, key issues, and concerns.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) decision 15/8 in 2022 mentions NbS and invites Parties to explore complementarities across Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) including, where appropriate, “in the implementation of sustainable land management, ecosystem-based approaches or nature-based solutions.

This report builds on this need to increase awareness and implementation of NbS within MEAs. It outlines recent developments on NbS with a focus on global, regional and national commitments, and key issues and concerns. Building on the new multilaterally agreed definition of NbS , affirmed by the UN Environment Assembly in March 2022, it sets out key elements in the concept with examples of NbS and related approaches. Recommendations are provided for actions by governments, civil society and the private sector to substantially scale up the use of NbS.

The overarching aim of the report is to inform NbS-related initiatives and discussions on NbS at global, regional, and national levels, with a focus on how NbS can be scaled up to more effectively address social, economic, and environmental challenges. The report outlines four main things that need to be done to help address concerns and scale up the use of NbS. These are:

  • Build a common understanding of NbS.
  • Adopt integrated approaches to implementation.
  • Apply appropriate safeguards.
  • Strengthen locally-led action.

These four actions should take account of the specific economic, social and environmental context in which they are being applied.

Key messages on scaling up NbS include:

  1. NbS work with nature to address a range of important social, economic and environmental challenges. These challenges include climate change, land degradation, food security, water availability as well as urban development, poverty, unemployment, and biodiversity loss.
  2. Some of these challenges cannot be fully addressed without making use of NbS. Individual NbS interventions can also deliver multiple benefits and, collectively, NbS can make a major contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to tackling the planetary crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution.
  3. Recognition of the value of NbS has grown in recent years, at international, national and local levels. This is reflected in an expanding number of commitments, expressions of support and policy statements from many countries and organizations across the world.
  4. There is now a multilaterally agreed definition of NbS, agreed at the May 2022 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) by 193 Member States, providing a basis for a common understanding.
  5. The opportunity exists for a large scaling up of the use of NbS. This will require integrated approaches that link together policy, financial instruments and technical advances.
  6. Building a common understanding of the nature and value of NbS will be important for scaling up. It is essential to address concerns that have been raised about NbS and to enable actions that respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) and have strong financial, environmental and social integrity.
  7. Robust safeguards, standards and guidance for NbS are critical. These need to be further developed, refined and applied to ensure that NbS are implemented in ways that are effective, gender-responsive, transparent and consensual.

Learn more in the full UNEP report, Nature-based Solutions: Opportunities and Challenges for Scaling Up.