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Natural Infrastructure

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Natural infrastructure is an area or system that is either naturally occurring or naturalized and then intentionally managed to provide multiple benefits for the environment and human well-being.

It is a form of "green" infrastructure, a term that also includes systems with positive environmental outcomes, such as renewable energy or electric vehicles.

Many of the benefits provided by nature and natural systems are not valued in real economic terms. These benefits, or "ecosystem services," are gaining in popularity as a means to improved well-being and sustainable development. Even so, natural infrastructure is emerging as a useful means to acquire these benefits on a larger scale. Moreover, policies and markets are starting to emerge to deliver some ecosystem benefits, such as carbon sequestration.

Wetlands, including these floating treatment wetlands, are a form of natural infrastructure and bring many advanatges to both humans and the environment. 

IISD is working to advance the conversation around implementing and financing natural infrastructure in Canada.

We have worked on an analysis that evidences the great value of natural infrastructure systems in mitigating flooding, and are also convening an event at the end of 2018 to bring major stakeholders into one room and discuss how we can better finance and implement natural infrastructure systems in Canada.

  • Report
    Combatting Canada’s Rising Flood Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option

    Combatting Canada’s Rising Flood Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option

    ​This report presents ample evidence to suggest that efforts by governments to limit flood risk may be consistent with – and reinforce – their fiduciary responsibility to administer good governance.

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  • Blog
    The Multiple Benefits of Natural Infrastructure

    The Multiple Benefits of Natural Infrastructure

    We explain exactly what natural infrastructure is and all the multiple benefits that it brings to humans and to the environment.

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  • Report
    Floating Treatment Wetlands: Keeping our fresh water clean and healthy

    Floating Treatment Wetlands: Keeping our fresh water clean and healthy

    This short, engaging storybook takes you through what Floating Treatment Wetlands are, and how they could really help us keep bodies of fresh water clean and healthy.

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