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Nature-based solutions can reduce vulnerability to climate change

November 6, 2021
News item image The three briefings are based on new research from the Nature-based Solutions Initiative.

Our recent research examines the role of nature-based solutions (NbS) in addressing climate vulnerability in Bangladesh and rural Global South in general, and on ensuring NbS support both biodiversity and climate change adaptation.

We have summarised the key findings from these studies for policymakers in three briefings.

Bangladesh

This briefing ‘Tackling climate change with nature-based solutions in Bangladesh’ summarises a review by Smith et al. (in press) that found robust evidence that NbS can provide resilient and effective protection from climate risks while also supporting sustainable development and enhancing biodiversity.

The briefing includes recommendations for policymakers that focus on integrating support for NbS into government policy, focusing on four key success factors:

  1. Participatory delivery of NbS involving all stakeholders.
  2. Strong and transparent governance.
  3. Provision of secure finance and land tenure.
  4. Systematic monitoring of outcomes for people and biodiversity, in line with good practice guidelines.

Understanding the benefits of NbS can help to make the case for protecting Bangladesh’s remaining high-value natural assets, including the Sundarbans mangroves and Chittagong hill forests, as well as implementing more sustainable agricultural practices such as agroecology and agroforestry in the farmed landscape.

Read the full briefing for key findings, enabling factors, and evidence gaps for addressing climate vulnerability with nature-based solutions in Bangladesh.

Global South

This briefing ‘Reducing people’s vulnerability to climate change in the rural Global South using Nature-based Solutions’ synthesizes the findings of a recently published assessment of the effectiveness of nature-based interventions at reducing social and ecological vulnerability through different pathways, with findings that suggest that NbS (such as ecosystem-based adaptation), can help reduce people’s vulnerability to climate change impacts across a diversity of social and environmental contexts.

The briefing includes four recommendations for policymakers:

  1. Make explicit, in policy, that NbS can be implemented across a wide range of ecosystems and socioeconomic contexts.
  2. Recognize that the effectiveness of NbS and enabling factors are context-dependent.
  3. Engage the full range of affected stakeholders and rights holders to understand what makes NbS effective, address people’s adaptation priorities and needs, and how they link to wider development processes.
  4. Adapt policy response considering enabling factors and barriers that impact NbS effectiveness: political, technical, social, or economic.

Increasing insight into whether and how NbS reduce vulnerability to climate change in the Global South is key, given that this region is home to the majority of the world’s most climate-vulnerable people.

Read the full briefing for key findings, enabling factors, and an illustrative example of NbS effectiveness in reducing people’s vulnerability to climate change in the rural Global South.

Biodiversity & Climate Change Adaptation

Our third briefing summarises research by Key et al. (in review) that addresses the question: can nature-based solutions (NbS) deliver a win-win for biodiversity and climate change adaptation?

The study reviewed the effects of nature-based interventions for climate change adaptation on different metrics of ecosystem health (such as the diversity of species, their population sizes, or soil and water quality). Most interventions with positive outcomes for climate change adaptation also reported measurable benefits for ecosystem health. However there was also evidence of some trade-offs between outcomes for climate and biodiversity, mainly resulting from interventions involving forest management and creation of novel ecosystems that are not designed according to the ecological context, or with biodiversity in mind.

The briefing, ‘Ensuring Nature-based Solutions support both biodiversity and climate change adaptation’, includes recommendations for policymakers:

  1. Ensure that nature-based climate policy always explicitly supports biodiversity and ecosystem health.
  2. Design targets for NbS commitments, including within NDCs, that cover a wide range of aspects of ecosystem health, rather than using simplistic targets such as forest extent or measuring single benefits such as carbon storage.
  3. Initiate transformative change across sectors to address direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss which is essential for the sustainability of NbS.

Research, practice and policy communities need to work together, and with local communities, to improve the design, monitoring and management of NbS so that they deliver clear benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem health alongside climate goals.

Read the full briefing for key findings, and further policy and practice recommendations on how to improve understanding and delivery of better ecosystem health outcomes of NbS.

The Bangladesh Briefing is based on the findings of:
Smith, A., Tasnim, T., Irfanullah, H.M., Turner, B., Chausson, A. and Seddon, N. (2021) Nature-based Solutions in Bangladesh: evidence of effectiveness for addressing climate change and other sustainable development goals. Frontiers in Environmental Science (in press).
For queries, please contact: Tasfia Tasnim, Lead researcher.
email: tasfia.tasnim@icccad.org
Twitter: @NbSBangladesh
For more information on NbS in Bangladesh please visit nbsbangladesh.info.

The Global South briefing is based on the findings of:
Woroniecki, S.; Spiegelenberg, F.A.; Chausson, A.; Turner, B.; Key, I.; Irfanullah, H.; Seddon, N. Contributions of Nature-Based Solutions to Reduce Peoples’ Vulnerabilities to Climate Change across the Rural Global South. Preprints 2021, 2021100403 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202110.0403.v1).
For queries, please contact: Stephen Woroniecki, PhD, Lead researcher.
email: stephen.woroniecki@liu.se   twitter: @stephenworoniec

The biodiversity & climate change adaptation briefing is based on the findings of:
Key, I., Smith, A., Turner, B., Chausson, A., Girardin, C., MacGillivray, M., Seddon, N. (2021). Can nature-based solutions deliver a win-win for biodiversity and climate change adaptation? Preprints 2021, 2021100336 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202110.0336.v1)
For queries, please contact: Professor Nathalie Seddon, corresponding author.

Keep updated by following @NaturebasedSols for the latest NbSI news and COP26 updates.