What Are Nature-Based Solutions and How Can They Help Us Address the Climate Crisis?

Photo: Wikipedia/US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Nature-based solutins refer to a suite of actions or policies that harness the power of nature to address some of our most pressing societal challenges, such as threats to water security, rising risk of natural disasters, or climate change.

These solutions involve protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing ecosystems in ways that increase their resiliency and ability to address those societal challenges, while also safeguarding biodiversity and improving human wellbeing.

Take mangroves, for example. Mangrove forests along coastlines are not only important for sustaining fisheries but also for providing protective natural barriers against erosion and strong storms. They filter water, provide valuable timber and food resources to coastal communities, and can store huge amounts of carbon. Conserving and restoring these ecosystems benefits people in coastal communities by reducing vulnerabilities and increasing their resilience to the effects of climate change.

In short, nature-based solutions can be a win-win for people and nature.

But nature-based solutions aren’t always the best answer. For example, planting non-native trees to offset carbon emissions can be detrimental to biodiversity and can even reduce the availability of water, and the potential climate benefits don’t outweigh the cost. It’s important that we make science-driven decisions to apply the right solution in the right place.

And nature-based solutions aren’t the only solutions we should use to help countries, communities, or corporations adapt to climate change.

“We should think of managing climate risks as being something like investing in stocks,” says WWF’s Jeff Opperman, Global Freshwater Lead Scientist. “It’s best to invest in a diversified portfolio. If you’re trying to keep a low-lying coastal community safe against the impacts of flooding, for example, it’s best to not to put all your investment into just one solution, like levees,” he says. “Instead, you use a range of strategies that complement one another. Nature-based solutions can be key assets in a diversified portfolio.”

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Source: WWF