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).

Multi-stakeholder, multi-year, and multi-country initiatives centered on NBS have great potential to expand adaptation goals into their activities and reach more stakeholders.

Key Findings:

NBS initiatives have achieved important mitigation and sustainability outcomes; many could expand their impact by including adaptation. Secretariat staff of surveyed initiatives stated a strong interest in better including climate adaptation.

Deliberately integrating adaptation into existing NBS initiatives would contribute to ecosystem health, social well-being, and climate resilience simultaneously. This paper identifies key opportunities for NBS initiatives to contribute to adaptation outcomes:

  • Better coordinating among NBS initiatives to incorporate and accelerate climate adaptation efforts, especially by leveraging one another’s strengths: expertise in building strategic partnerships; providing specialized technical assistance and capacity building; promoting knowledge sharing; and actively engaging initiative stakeholders
  • Sharing adaptation tools and processes from adaptation- focused organizations already integrating NBS
  • Continuing to invest in NBS for adaptation pilots to open the door for larger initiatives while capitalizing on existing NBS initiatives’ expertise in accessing and mobilizing finance to attract more funding for adaptation
  • Maximizing the adaptation benefits that NBS can deliver to groups that disproportionally bear the brunt of both climate impacts and ecosystem degradation
  • Harnessing current political momentum surrounding NBS for adaptation by improving the evidence and socioeconomic cases for them and by better communicating their benefits

NBS initiatives face multiple barriers that limit their uptake of adaptation priorities. Examples include insufficient funding to expand their activities to include adaptation and limited technical expertise on adaptation.