A Quick Intro to Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change

by Amy Denton, Assistant Editor

Inspired by Dr Fiona Nunan’s talk entitled ‘Power-sharing for nature-based solutions to climate change’, delivered at the TED Countdown event organised by TEDxWarwick and GLOBUS.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are actions and policies that protect, manage and restore ecosystems to address socio-environmental challenges, and are being used more and more in the fight against climate change. Essentially, they work by using the power of nature to restore nature, and generally centre around 4 areas:

Image via IUCN
  • Forestry: Planting forests, creating protected areas in which forests can re-grow, improving management
  • Wetlands: Conserving and restoring wetland areas
  • Restorative agriculture: Building soil carbon
  • Oceans: Restoring and protecting species such as kelp to restore ecosystems

NBS focus on restoring nature by protecting and expanding biodiversity that we may have previously lost due to human practices and climate change. The greater value placed upon nature will also benefit human well-being, both physical by breathing cleaner air and drinking better water as well as mental by being around nature.

NBS could also mitigate about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions before 2050, but according to Dr Fiona Nunan from the University of Birmingham, long-term collaboration is critical to implementing them effectively. In an interview with TEDxWarwick, Dr Nunan explained that she has found collaboration between the private sector, government, and local communities very challenging because “people with power, money and resources tend to dominate.” Therefore, more power should be given to local communities who often place greater value on nature and nature-based solutions as a whole to promote participation in the action at a smaller scale.

A greater emphasis also needs to be placed upon integrating nature-based solutions to climate change in urban areas, as more people than ever are living in city settings. In implementing these policies, urban areas will become more resilient to extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves. An example of such solutions presented by Dr Nunan is a flooding initiative in China called ‘sponge’ cities, where people are giving over green spaces and creating parks around them to absorb water from heavy rainfall and prevent flooding, especially in wetland areas.

In order to combat climate change effectively, we need to collectively change our mindset towards valuing nature and the power it holds in stopping environmental collapse. Without nature, we have nothing, and without nature our world as we know it will not survive. So, by integrating ecosystem restoration and value into our everyday life, we can take steps towards a better and more eco-focused world.

Image by Lukasz Szmigiel via Unsplash

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