Working Paper

The Potential for Nature-Based Solutions

The Potential for Nature-Based Solutions Initiatives to Incorporate and Scale Climate Adaptation

This paper explores how existing NbS initiatives can better incorporate climate adaptation. It investigates the barriers these initiatives face, as well as new opportunities and lessons learned in implementation.

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The term "nature-based solutions" captures approaches to reverse natural resource degradation and biodiversity loss while promoting sustainable development. Across ecosystems, many NbS can also protect people and nature from climate impacts, including shorter-term hazards such as flooding and longer-term threats like desertification.

Reducing these risks is paramount, especially since they disproportionately affect vulnerable and marginalized groups. These groups stand to benefit the most from nature-based climate adaptation solutions, revealing an important opportunity to advance equity outcomes. Additionally, evidence continues to emerge showing that an NbS approach can be more effective and result in greater savings, social benefits, and avoided losses than business-as-usual interventions (World Bank 2020; Chausson et al. 2020).

NbS initiatives have achieved important mitigation and sustainability outcomes; many could expand their impact by including adaptation, ecosystem health, social well-being, and climate resilience simultaneously. This paper, produced by WRI, identifies key opportunities for NbS initiatives to contribute to adaptation outcomes.