The impacts of the climate crisis are being experienced all across the world. Rising sea levels are causing numerous extreme weather events and threatening biodiversity, food and water security, and human health. However, nature-based solutions can address these issues.
Solutions to help prevent and manage disaster risk are needed, and nature has a significant role to play. Research has suggested that nature-based solutions could be key to minimizing climate change and its impacts.
About nature-based solutions
Put simply, nature-based solutions are actions that help us sustainably manage, restore, or protect ecosystems. These solutions assist us in addressing societal challenges like food and water security, climate change, human health, and disaster risk reduction adaptively and effectively while also offering biodiversity and human health benefits.
They are a suite of policies or actions where nature holds the power. A great example of a nature-based solution is mangrove grows along coastlines which offer protective barriers against strong storms and erosion. They filter the water and offer coastal communities, food resources and valuable timber.
In addition, they can store a great deal of carbon. Therefore, they are tackling an issue we are facing – restoring and conserving the ecosystems – while also benefiting human health in these coastal communities by increasing their resilience and reducing vulnerabilities.
Other examples of nature-based solutions could include protecting forests since they are home to 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Forests, for instance, offer clean water and air, regulate the climate by removing carbon from the air, and protect against landslides and erosion. For example, rainforests, like the Amazon, act as carbon sinks sequestering significant amounts of carbon in soil and tree biomass.
Why are they important?
Nature-based solutions that help us to preserve grasslands and mangrove forests and sustainably manage, restore, and protect forests and coral reefs are highly effective strategies to slow the rate of climate change.
Over 130 countries have implemented nature-based solution actions into their national climate plans under the Paris Agreement. These natural solutions enable us to maintain and replenish natural elements.
Additionally, they create habitats for endangered species, reduce carbon emissions, restore natural beauty to communities, and conserve the environment. These solutions address global challenges, and while they should not be our only action, research has found they can offer 37 percent of the mitigation necessary to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement until 2030.
Ultimately, they will play an integral role in building resilience in communities and landscapes and climate change adaptation. A number of these solutions are already being implemented by the World Bank to manage disaster risk and relief.
Nature-based solutions are cost-effective and simultaneously address land degradation and biodiversity. Therefore, they can have a positive impact on many global problems at once.
As extreme weather events continue worldwide, we must avert our attention to natural solutions that can help us protect, restore, and sustainably manage natural ecosystems that will help the planet remain habitable.
All pathways to meeting the targets in the Paris Agreement involve the conservation, sustainable use, restoration, and protection of forests and natural ecosystems. Nature-based solutions provide an avenue for addressing biodiversity and climate issues in a cost-effective and synergetic means.