Communities in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are predicted to experience some of the most intense impacts from climate change that will severely impact lives and livelihoods, economic growth, and human and environmental health. Nature-based solutions (NBS) can play a vital role in building community resilience and mitigating the impacts of climate change. To scale up NBS investments in SSA, there is an urgent need to track, monitor, and understand the current status of where and how NBS projects are implemented.

This technical note outlines the methodology used to create a region-wide dataset of projects that have implemented NBS for climate- and water-resilience objectives in two multilateral development bank (MDB) portfolios — the World Bank and the African Development Bank. The resulting dataset includes 85 projects led by these MDBS over a 10-year period (2012‒21), including 46 projects from the World Bank and 39 projects from the African Development Bank. Total budgets for World Bank projects were $7.9 billion (including $2.5 billion for components with NBS), and total budgets for African Development projects $4.2 billion (including $2 billion for components with NBS). The countries with the largest number of projects were Ethiopia (10), Ghana (7), Malawi (7), Tanzania (6), Uganda (6), and Democratic Republic of the Congo (5).

The technical note also demonstrates how these projects are leveraging NBS to address urgent challenges faced by communities in SSA, including urban flooding, coastal flooding, and water security. Additionally, the note illustrates numerous types of co-benefits that NBS are generating, including biodiversity, livelihoods, and opportunities for carbon sequestration.

While these projects demonstrate that MDBs have an established history of funding and are leading NBS projects in the region, scaled-up applications of NBS are urgently needed across the region to achieve a resilient future. Subsequent stages of research will use this methodology to conduct a broader scan of NBS projects across SSA, including projects led by governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector. Findings from this research will be complemented by interviews and case studies to uncover enabling conditions and strategies to scale up NBS applications across the region.