Nature-based solutions—solutions that involve working with nature to address societal challenges—have gained momentum as a tool that can deliver multiple benefits.
The benefits of nature are far reaching—from providing clean air and water to ensuring protection from flooding and creating cooling effects within our urban landscapes. That is why we work with nature to help address the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and many other threats to a sustainable future.
Here at IISD, we explore the holistic value of nature through the lens of sustainable development, building an evidence base that can mobilize practical approaches to address these challenges.
We work with governments, international agencies, civil society, and other stakeholders to advance nature-positive outcomes that support and benefit both people and ecosystems while always ensuring these efforts include and benefit everyone.
Most of this work focuses on building more nature-based infrastructure to support growing environmental, societal, and economic needs, as well as tapping into ecosystems to help build resilience for the ever-intensifying impacts of climate change.
Nature-based infrastructure, also known as natural infrastructure, is a way to plan and work with nature to meet our infrastructure needs. While these infrastructure projects are designed to fulfill specific goals, they can also generate a host of other social, economic, and environmental benefits that go beyond what traditional engineered or "grey" infrastructure can provide. Our research shows that nature-based infrastructure is often more cost-effective than traditional alternatives.
With the Nature-Based Infrastructure Global Resource Centre, we bring together key partners to establish a business case for nature-based infrastructure. We provide data, training, and customized infrastructure project valuations based on the latest innovations in systems thinking and financial modelling.
In the Canadian context, IISD's Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions initiative is working to scale up natural infrastructure on Canada's Prairies for cleaner water and more resilient communities. Our Canada-based work also includes conducting research at the IISD Experimental Lakes Area to improve our understanding of human impacts on the environment, influence policy and environmental best practices, and support public awareness.
Nature Building Resilience to the Impacts of Climate Change
We also highlight the role of nature in building resilience to climate change. Our Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative provides knowledge and capacity development opportunities in the form of guidance, events, and a massive open online course to enhance the implementation of nature-based climate solutions that provide benefits for biodiversity and people of all genders and social groups.
As the host of the secretariat of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network, we explore how NAP processes present a strategic opportunity to raise the profile of nature-based solutions as an essential approach to adaptation at scale.
The Nature-Based Infrastructure Global Resource Centre
The leading global hub for nature-based infrastructure (NBI). Together, we can help build a better, fairer, and more sustainable future through NBI projects.
Climate Adaptation and Protected Areas Initiative
A new initiative will use nature-based solutions to support local communities in adapting to climate change while safeguarding critical ecosystems in and around protected areas.
Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS)
Put simply, it’s about looking after nature, so nature can look after us.
Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative
A new initiative aims to support nature-based climate action that protects livelihoods and biodiversity in the most vulnerable parts of the world.
The Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi)
IISD developed the Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) to demonstrate to governments, investors and citizens why sustainable assets can deliver better value for money and more attractive internal rates of return.
The State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI)
Increasing market access of small-holder farmers, fostering gender equality and contributing to environmental conservation by leveraging voluntary sustainability standards.
ALivE - Adaptation, Livelihoods and Ecosystems Planning Tool
ALivE is a tool designed to help organize and analyze information to plan effective ecosystem-based adaptation.
Planting for Resilience
Scaling Up the Adoption of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Using Behaviour-Centred Design: The case of vetiver grass for riverbank erosion control in Fiji
Floating Treatment Wetlands
Floating treatment wetlands allow aquatic plants to grow in water that is typically too deep for them and transform pollutants into harmless by-products.
What Is the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience, and How Can Countries Move It Forward?
With the introduction of the new framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), COP 28 marked a milestone for adaptation. We unpack key outputs and set out how countries can move forward by strengthening their national monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) systems.
After COP 28: What's next for adaptation?
IISD experts Anne Hammill, Angie Dazé, Emilie Beauchamp, Jeffrey Qi, and Alec Crawford take a closer look at what we saw—and did not see—on adaptation at COP 28 in Dubai, and where we go from here.
Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation
Discover tools, recommendations, and case studies on how to plan, design, and implement nature-based solutions for adaptation that advance gender equality and social inclusion while enhancing resilience, biodiversity, and ecosystem integrity.
A Strategic Vision for Enhancing Naturalized Water Retention in Manitoba
Enhancing water retention infrastructure in Manitoba can provide numerous benefits, especially if it is naturalized and is located, designed, and maintained strategically.
Enhancing Biodiversity Co-Benefits From Nature-Based Solutions for Adaptation in Practice
By sharing promising practices and lessons learned, these case studies seek to inform and inspire adaptation practitioners and planners to help ensure that biodiversity co-benefits are captured throughout the lifetime of a project.
Natural Infrastructure and Prairie Prosperity
The natural infrastructure sector contributes billions to the Prairie-wide economy and creates jobs. More investment is needed.
Vice-President, Global Strategies and Managing Director, Europe
Editorial & Communications Manager, IISD Experimental Lakes Area
Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre
Director, Nature for Resilience
Senior Policy Advisor
Director, Water Management
Lead II, Bioremediation
Water Policy and Youth Engagement Officer, IISD-ELA
Interim VP Operations and Business Transformation
Senior Policy Specialist, Water
Director, Sustainable Infrastructure
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Advisor, Data and Technology; IISD-ELA
System Dynamics Analyst
Policy Advisor II
Senior Policy Advisor
Cesar Henrique Arrais
Senior Communications Officer
Policy Advisor II, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
Lead, Sustainable Finance
Brittney Le Blanc
Communications Officer, Water
Policy Analyst, Sustainable Finance
Senior Policy Advisor
Sustainable Asset Valuation of Restoring the Mallorquín Swamp, Colombia
This economic valuation demonstrates the benefits of restoring the Mallorquín Swamp in Colombia.
STELTER: Natural infrastructure could be win for environment, taxpayers
Building more natural infrastructure may just be a great way to save taxpayers money in the short and long term, a new report shows. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a new report that water infrastructure in Canada’s prairies is under threat but natural infrastructure may be the way forward to fix our ailing water systems.
A focus on water can lessen climate change’s burn
Canadians need water infrastructure to protect us in the face of mounting risks of flooding, drought, extreme heat, and wildfires.
Protected areas under pressure: An online survey of protected area managers regarding social and environmental conservation target attainment and stakeholder conflicts
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the interconnectivity between a diverse set of agendas. Identifying policies and practices that can reconcile incompatibilities across goals remains a challenge. With concurrent biodiversity and climate crises, the world faces increased pressure to find effective options for building resilience in remaining intact landscapes and ecosystems, which is critical for making progress toward several SDGs. While pressures on biodiversity and ecosystems have intensified dramatically, recent studies have shown a high geographic coincidence between important ecosystems and social conflict. Considering this, it is critical to understand how to manage Protected Areas (PAs) to effectively deliver environmental and social dividends while also minimizing or effectively managing stakeholder conflict.
Funding for Canadian Prairies’ water infrastructure urgently needed, but nature offers innovative solutions—new report
The Canadian Prairie provinces’ water infrastructure is aging and depreciating at an alarming rate. However, natural infrastructure can offer a practical and cost-effective solution when scaled up and adopted across all levels of government.
Bangladesh's water crisis and the problem of a 'green' solution
As the world scrambles to address climate change and build resilience to prepare communities for its destructive impacts, nature-based solutions are being presented as a panacea. These projects, which leverage nature and natural processes to help alleviate the effects of climate change and harmful human activity, are increasing in number and scale.
COMMENTARY: Can we afford to continue removing wetlands from New Brunswick?
Industrial parks and wetlands; can we have both? Moncton Industrial Development Ltd. filed an environmental impact assessment in December to build an industrial park covering about 259 acres between Berry Mills Road and the CN rail yard. The site is currently a primarily tree-covered lot which includes wetlands and watercourses.
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