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.
Analyzing the Systemic Impacts of Forest Landscape Restoration: The case of Viridis Terra in Peru
This Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) focuses on land restoration interventions in the Peruvian Andes and the socio-economic benefits for the community.
Advancing Biodiversity-Positive Nature-Based Climate Solutions
From India to Ethiopia to Canada, exploring valuable examples of nature-based solutions’ potential while showcasing their versatility.
The Coral Gardeners of Saint Lucia: Local heroes against coral bleaching
Coral gardeners in Saint Lucia are working together to save reefs from the devastating effects of climate change through a flagship project under the island's National Adaptation Plan (NAP).
Nature-Positive Trade for Sustainable Development
Marianne Kettunen analyzes the role of trade policies in addressing the biodiversity crisis and promoting sustainable development while ensuring transparency, fairness, and interoperability across countries.
What Does Canada's 2023 Budget Signal for the Future of Fresh Water, Adaptation, and Natural Infrastructure on the Prairies?
Canada's 2023 Budget proved to be historic, with unprecedented investments for fresh water and the clean energy transition. As the Budget Implementation Act 2023 passed the House of Commons in June, what does this budget mean for fresh water, climate change adaptation, and natural infrastructure on the Canadian Prairies?
Enhancing Biodiversity Co-Benefits From Nature-Based Solutions
This technical report provides a set of recommendations to help plan, design, and implement nature-based solutions (NbS) for adaptation that enhances biodiversity and ecosystem integrity.
The NBI Global Resource Center
The NBI Global Resource Centre aims to bring together key partners to establish a business case for nature-based infrastructure.
Nature for Climate Adaptation Initiative (NCAI)
The NCAI seeks to enhance the capacity of civil society to implement nature-based climate solutions for adaptation that provide biodiversity and livelihood benefits to people of all genders and social groups in developing countries.
Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS)
Put simply, it’s about looking after nature, so nature can look after us.
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.
Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi): Using Systemic Approaches and Simulation to Scale Nature-Based Infrastructure
SAVi has already been used for assessments on lakes and wetlands, and IISD is seeking opportunities to conduct SAVi assessments of other natural assets and compare them with civil engineering alternatives. We are also working on blended financing strategies for nature-based infrastructure.
ALivE - Adaptation, Livelihoods and Ecosystems Planning Tool
ALivE is a tool designed to help organize and analyze information to plan effective ecosystem-based adaptation.
Nature-based Solutions in National Adaptation Plans
National Adaptation Plan (NAP) processes present a strategic opportunity to raise the profile of NbS approaches, providing a framework—and, potentially, financial resources—for implementation at scale. Find out more on through NAP Global Network resources.
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.
Editorial & Communications Manager, IISD Experimental Lakes Area
Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure Policy and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre
Director, Nature for Resilience
Lead II, Bioremediation
Water Policy and Youth Engagement Officer, IISD-ELA
Senior Policy Advisor
Associate Vice President, Water and Managing Director, Manitoba
Senior Policy Specialist, Water
Senior Policy Advisor
Director, Water Management
Policy Advisor, Data and Technology; IISD-ELA
Director, Sustainable Infrastructure
Senior Policy Advisor
What is the role of governments in biodiversity protection?
President and CEO of The International Institute for Sustainable Development, Richard Florizone was a keynote speaker on our special program: Global Action Initiative 2022 on Sustainability.
COP 15 : les Autochtones veulent être entendus
Les peuples autochtones présents à la 15e réunion de la Conférence des parties (COP 15) exigent de ne plus être ignorés au chapitre de la préservation de la biodiversité. « Les gouvernements doivent comprendre qu’aucune décision ne peut être prise sans inclure les peuples autochtones et les communautés locales dans les discussions », a plaidé Lucy Mulenkei, de l’organisation Indigenous Information Network, représentant le peuple maasaii du Kenya lors d’une conférence à la COP 15 de Montréal.
The Value of Incorporating Nature in Urban Infrastructure Planning
Cities around the world are struggling to provide people with the infrastructure they need to thrive. How can nature-based infrastructure foster sustainable cities?
The Value of Water Retention Beneficial Management Practices to Farmers and Landowners in the Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District
This report assesses the economic returns to communities and landowners from implementing on-farm water retention projects in the Seine, Rat, and Roseau watersheds in Manitoba, Canada.
Cop15 biodiversité : l'argent arrive, mais trop de milliards détruisent encore la nature (in French)
En dix ans, les pays riches ont doublé leurs aides à la protection de la nature. Une bonne nouvelle ? Oui, mais dans le même temps, des sommes colossales sont investis dans des activités destructrices pour la planète.
Biodiversité: les subventions pour la destruction de la nature
Des centaines de millions de dollars de plus sont nécessaires chaque année pour renverser les pertes de biodiversité —restaurer les forêts et les terres humides, établir des zones protégées, mettre en place une agriculture plus durable. Mais ce n’est pas seulement une question d’investissements dans la protection de la biodiversité. Les gouvernements doivent aussi cesser de subventionner sa destruction.
Seal River Watershed: The case for conservation
This report lays out the benefits and considerations for establishing the Seal River Watershed Indigenous Protected Area in Manitoba, Canada.
COP15 : Faits marquants du jour - le 10 décembre 2022 (in French)
« Montréal et les municipalités environnantes se mobilisent pour accueillir cette conférence. Je remercie tout particulièrement la Nation mohawk et les collectivités de Kanesatake, de Kahnawake et d'Akwesasne qui continuent de nous accueillir sur leurs territoires. Nous avançons ensemble sur le chemin de la réconciliation et de la conservation, et j'ai eu l'honneur de transmettre cet esprit de partenariat commun lors de ma visite du village autochtone aujourd'hui. Cet esprit de partenariat a également été mis en évidence durant l'événement de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, auquel j'ai assisté, qui représente 82 municipalités, qui a annoncé qu'elle visait à d'atteindre l'objectif de 30 % de milieux naturels de protégés d'ici 2030, ce qui correspond à l'objectif fédéral. »
You might also be interested in
Climate Change Adaptation
As climate risks escalate, we help governments and communities anticipate, cope, and adapt.
Climate Change Mitigation
Tackling climate change requires urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions to minimize the impacts on our societies, economies, and ecosystems.
Food and Agriculture
Agriculture is on the front lines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.
Infrastructure is the backbone of sustainable development and a powerful driver of economic activity.
In the transition to clean energy, a just transition can minimize negative impacts and maximize positive opportunities.
Human activity—from pollutants to climate change—is threatening the health of our planet's precious freshwater resources. That's where we come in.