Seeking Clarity on Nature-Based Climate Solutions for Adaptation

While there is increasing policy momentum for NbS, criticisms and controversy cloud its application and upscaling. This guidance note clarifies the concepts behind NbS and related terms and shines a light on how to achieve equitable outcomes through a focus on gender responsiveness, social inclusion, and positive outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystems.

By Veronica Lo, Jeffrey Qi, Nicole Jang on June 6, 2022
  • The Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative will strengthen the knowledge and capacity of civil society organizations through an e-learning course, a virtual library of resources, and targeted online and in-person learning exchanges.

  • Nature-based climate solutions have the potential to deliver measurable benefits to communities and ecosystems in cost-effective, equitable ways.

  • Implementing nature-based climate solutions with strong social inclusion principles and robust social environmental safeguards with adequate enforcement can enhance their efficacy and legitimacy while enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems.

As the world witnesses and experiences the impacts of climate change, turning to nature could be a pragmatic way to adapt. Governments are being urged to implement ecosystem-based approaches, which include conservation, restoration, and improved land management, in both adaptation and mitigation. Such approaches, framed under the umbrella concept of nature-based solutions (NbS), are expected to be a key component of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and are already integrated into many countries’ National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

However, controversy remains about what constitutes as NbS and how to achieve equitable outcomes while enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Compounding this challenge is the unprecedented scale of biodiversity loss as a result of climate change and other interrelated drivers of change.

This guidance note aims to clarify the concepts of NbS and nature-based climate solutions (NBCS) with an emphasis on climate adaptation. These adaptation-focused NbS are captured using the widely known term ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). Beyond awareness and knowledge of these terms, it is vital to unpack the social and biodiversity safeguards necessary for NbS to ensure that solutions are gender responsive, socially inclusive, and deliver biodiversity benefits. This guidance note is a knowledge product of the Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative (NCAI).